7 A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” 8 (His disciples had gone to the city to buy food.) 9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?” (Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans.) 10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” 11 The woman said to him, “Sir, you have no bucket, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? 12 Are you greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us the well, and with his sons and his flocks drank from it?” 13 Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.” 15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I may never be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.”
16 Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come back.” 17 The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; 18 for you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you have said is true!” 19 The woman said to him, “Sir, I see that you are a prophet. 20 Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you say that the place where people must worship is in Jerusalem.” 21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” 25 The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When he comes, he will proclaim all things to us.” 26 Jesus said to her, “I am he, the one who is speaking to you.”
27 Just then his disciples came. They were astonished that he was speaking with a woman, but no one said, “What do you want?” or, “Why are you speaking with her?” 28 Then the woman left her water jar and went back to the city. She said to the people, 29 “Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done! He cannot be the Messiah, can he?” 30 They left the city and were on their way to him.
Disgraceful. Immoral. Shameful. Deplorable. Scandalous. Unbelievable. Appalling. No, I am not talking about our current political leaders. I’m talking about the exchange we encounter in the 4th Gospel of John between this man, who was a Jew and this woman, who was a Samaritan, a Gentile. Because if any of the towns people of Sychar, where Jacob’s well is located, would have stumbled upon these two people at the well that day, that’s what they would have said about their interaction. But who would they have been talking about? Who was immoral, scandalous? Jesus? The woman? Both of them? Hmmm. I think that’s important because, if we don’t first fully appreciate the interaction between Jesus and the Samaritan woman, then the focus of this story, the importance of the Living Water, will truly escape us. It will slip through our fingers just like water, no matter how close we try to hold our fingers.
When we understand that it was not an accident, but part of God’s perfect plan for the two of them to come to that well, on that day and create an encounter and an experience that 2000 years later would create the opportunity for us to have an encounter and an experience of the Living Water. Then you understand the importance of the cultural misfit and the spiritual saint? But which one is which?
Focus verse: John 4:9
The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?” (Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans.)
What is it that makes this story perfect for a misfit or a saint? Let’s examine the facts. Jesus violates two cultural norms, 1) a Jewish man did not initiate conversation with an unknown woman, specifically, a Jewish teacher did not engage in public conversation with woman, and 2) Jews did not invite contact with a Samaritan. And has anyone ever questioned why she was at the well at the hottest part of the day, when it was more the custom to come when it was cooler?
So who’s the misfit? Jesus, for disregarding social and genders norms by speaking to this Samaritan woman. The woman, for admitting that her personal life was a hot mess. Then who was the saint? Jesus, for sharing the Living Water. The Woman, for going back and telling everyone about Jesus and many Samaritans believed. Well, which one is which?
ARE YOU A CULTURAL MISFIT OR A SPIRITUAL SAINT?
Well, my sense is that this is a season in which we may have to be a little of both. For we the Body of Christ , are once again uniquely positioned to share faith, show love and restore hope in the world so we can make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. More than once in this nation’s history we have found ourselves in this place, though one set of circumstances or another. The question for us is are we going to be like the Samaritan woman, who became a witness for Jesus, or are we going to be like Jesus, breaking down those divides that keep us from truly living into being the body of Christ.
In this unprecedented season of COVID-19, social distancing, travel bans, empty shelves, and deserted streets, how will you care for your neighbors, keep the elderly who are alone encouraged, help children not succumb to overwhelming anxiety and keep others from going hungry or losing hope? Right now everyone is that woman at the well, looking for Living Water. What are you willing to do, be a cultural misfit, a spiritual saint, or both?
Let us pray:
Loving God, who sent Your Son Jesus into the world, so that we might know of the Living Water, but also share the Living Water, give us the strength, encouragement and wisdom that only comes from You, as we seek to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. In Jesus name we pray. AMEN.
This post is an adapted excerpt from Rev. Dr. Chaney's devotion. a part of Sunday Supplements, 3/13/2020.