On Sunday I preached twice on this passage. I am inspired by the way that Jesus reaches out across so many barriers to ask this woman for a drink, barriers of ethnicity, gender, convention and in turn this woman, Photini according to Orthodox history, received the living water that Jesus offers. After the encounter she goes an tells everyone about Jesus. For me, the story shows how the message of the gospel is for all and how a woman is one of the first people in John’s gospel to tell others about Jesus – could we call her an apostle to the Samaritans? In my preparation for preaching I found this reflection from Jean Vanier – it summarizes more eloquently than I can the message of this story.
Jean Vanier’s (founder of L’Arche) reflection on the story of the woman at the well in John ch 4:
It is very moving how Jesus meets and welcomes this fragile, broken woman
He knows the depth of her negative self-image
He does not judge or condemn her
He does not condescend or give her any moral lessons
He approaches her life, a tired thirsty beggar asking her to do something for him
He begins to dialogue with her and creates a relationship with her
In trusting her he uplifts her and gives her back her self-esteem
Throughout the Gospels, Jesus is acclaimed as the One who takes our humanity upon Himself.
He identifies with the poor, the vulnerable, those cast out of society. Like the prophets and the Psalmist he pleads their case, no matter the consequences for himself.
Jesus asks – Give me a drink.
In this cri de coeur he cries out with the marginalised, with those who have no voice, who have little hope in our world
Give me a drink –I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink (Matthew 25:35).
In receiving water from this Samaritan woman, Jesus gives her life – a life of fullness of esteem, of relationship with God.
Water gives life… Jesus came to quench our thirst for presence and acceptance.
Then the woman went out and shared her story…