James Witwicki has been tasked with writing some reflections and poems as we work through a series on relationships this summer 2015.
The Woman at the Well
Reflection by James Witwicki
There are moments in the gospels where Jesus seems to quietly and subtly introduce a revolution in the way that the disciples and (with them) the readers are meant to think. One example occurs in Matthew 19 when Jesus tells the disciples how difficult it is for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven, and thereby turns on its head the traditional notion that wealthy persons are favoured of God.
An even more dramatic example occurs in John 4 at Jacob’s well where Jesus encounters a remarkable Samaritan woman and asks her for a drink. John 4: 4-42 NIV. As in the example above. The reaction of the disciples gives us a hint that something amazing is going on: “his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking to a woman” v.27.
It is easy to skim over this episode as another fascinating bible story, but that would be a mistake. I encourage you to reflect on what is actually happening here. Jesus/God directly addresses a woman, and not a Jewish one. He engages her by asking for something and then, disregarding the barriers she raises, offers her living water. v. 13-15
The Samaritan woman’s questions reveal that she has a prophetic calling and is intensely interested in the spiritual truths that Jesus will willing provide her. This is done despite her unusual domestic circumstances. When Jesus reveals his knowledge that she is living with a man not her husband, neither of them are slowed down. The woman continues to seek and Jesus continues to reveal up to his revelation of himself as Christ.
Acting as the apostles before her, the woman leaves her water jug and goes to her community, asking “Could this be the Messiah?” a question she knows the answer to. Acting as a disciple the Samaritan convinces some of her neighbours and paves the way for Jesus to convince others. v.39-42
To summarize (a hard job here): Jesus, acting on his own breaks through to a gentile woman, with a common-law husband and reveals himself in a subtle, almost playful way, before empowering her to act as a disciple and a prophet. Little wonder that whole Christian movements have been directed by this passage.