Something to ponder about from today’s Gospel reading is,
who are the Samaritan women today??
Who are the Samaritan women in your life?
They don’t’ just have to be people who have had a number of partners.
Think about who are the people who you believe are not acceptable.
Maybe they are people who you are not comfortable relating to?
Perhaps they are people with a different set of values?
And maybe they are people who do not seem to live as you believe they should.
Or perhaps they don’t carry on their business as you think they should?
Often such people are shunned.
We often avoid such people.
Partly because of how they live their life, the habits they have developed over time.
And partly because of the exaggerated stories that are sometimes told about them, usually by people who don’t really know them or their situation
And partly because we are worried about our reputation.
Who can you think of who could be a Samaritan woman today?
The homeless on the street.
The person who is constantly swearing
The business person you suspect is making money immorally if not illegally.
The person who you think is a bit strange…
Who are the Samaritan women of today??
When we look at today’s gospel reading, we see a woman who is broken.
She has experienced rejection.
She knows that people around her love highlighting her flaws to each other.
She knows that she shouldn’t be mixing with men or people of another culture but she still needs to live.
So she approaches the water well to get some water.
This will at least give her some short term refreshment.
And she does this at a time when she thought no one would be around, to avoid her having to experience any embarrassment.
Do you know anyone like this?
Will avoid a situation or people so as to avoid feeling ashamed?
Some years ago a Lutheran congregation in Adelaide decided to do something out of character.
They decided to physically introduce themselves to the people living around the church…by visiting their neighbours.
They told them where the church was, what a Lutheran is, invited them to a meal, gave them a brochure of their activities and invited them some other events.
So in small groups congregational members,
walked around the streets close to the church building knocking on doors and they received a variety of responses.
To I always wondered what that building was.
Ahh we ain’t into that religious stuff.
To what’s the catch.
However there was one instance that stood out for this congregation.
They knocked on the door of an elderly lady.
On hearing who they were and they were inviting her to something she was overwhelmed.
She said “I used to go to a Lutheran Church, however I got divorced,
so I just stopped going because I was worried about what people would say
and that I would be constantly judged by people and that God wouldn’t want me there.”
She now is a regular worshipping member of that congregation,
simply because the people of that congregation took the time with her.
They not only told her but they also showed her that Jesus constantly loves her and wants her to be part of the congregation and his family.
And that is what Jesus did at the well for the Samaritan woman.
Jesus demonstrates this love to the Samaritan woman in at least 3 ways.
First of all Jesus was resting at the well.
But he wasn’t there by chance.
Although Samaria was the direct route between Judea and Galilee
Jesus had to make a deliberate decision to go to Samaria,
because it was the Jewish habit to bypass Samaria taking a longer route
so as to avoid the unclean and unacceptable Samaritans.
So Jesus went out of his way to be in a place where he will meet people in need.
Meet people who are hurt and broken…
And didn’t he do that for us?
Remember he came to earth for us.
People infected by sin.
Sin which brings hurt into our lives.
At times we are often hurt because of our sin and the sins committed against us.
But Jesus came to us despite of these problems we have.
Secondly, Jesus takes the initiative.
He does something, which even this woman knows is not on.
He talks to her and asks her for a drink of water.
Now in today’s climate this may sound like nothing.
But in that world it was not appropriate for man and woman who did not know each other to talk to each other, no matter the circumstances.
It was not acceptable.
And those who are Jewish, like Jesus, would have nothing to do with the Samaritans.
Not only would they not drink from the same container.
From a Jewish perspective if a Samaritan person had touched a water jug, then that jug was totally unclean and it would contaminate everything else that it came into contact with.
So Jesus initiating conversation with the woman shocks her.
A male Jew, wanting to talk to her and wanting her help, surprises her.
And it begins a discussion that brings her closer to Christ.
In relation to our lives, this is what Christ does for each one of us.
He takes the initiative with you.
He suffered and rose again for you.
He invites you into his family, which you first experienced when you were baptised.
And you continue to experience every time you are exposed to His Word and His family.
He gives you opportunities in worship, in bible studies and other congregational settings that allow you to participate and contribute in this family.
However what was the women’s response?
Look at verse 9.
She attempted to use society’s rules to prevent this interaction between her and Jesus.
Maybe she felt a little uncomfortable.
Perhaps she had been burnt before with promises, so she acted defensively.
Or maybe she was so shocked she didn’t know what to do.
As fellow Christians how often have you experienced this?
Whenever you have attempted to talk about the church or Christianity,
have you heard or experienced people who have tried to halt the discussion
by relying on what they believe are the acceptable customs.
Probably the most common one today is something along the lines of religion should be kept private, you can believe all that stuff about Christianity but its not for me.
Ironically, if people explore their lives….
They may soon discover that even though they say they are not religious.
They are in fact extremely religious…
even more religious than the average Christian.
They are devoted, committed or evening worshipping many other gods in their lives.
Like sport, money, their careers, their families, holidays, their right to determine how they live their lives.
All of these do offer some satisfaction but it is never lasting satisfaction…
And this brings us to the third way Jesus shows his love to the Samaritan woman.
When Jesus said that the woman had five husbands in her life,
he may have been hinting at something a little more than just poor sexual discretion.
On the surface this appears like a moral judgement and perhaps it was.
However there may have also been another meaning because the word baal in Hebrew, a language familiar to the Samaritans, means both gods and husband.
Either way what Jesus was saying to the woman was you have sought love from so many things, and all these things have let you down.
They have in fact given you extra worries,
extra burdens in your life
and they could only ever give you short-term satisfaction.
And at times Jesus does this to us.
He uses situations that occur in our lives to jolt us into realising that maybe we are devoted to things with a limited life.
Not only that, some of those things, actually cause us damage for many years after they have been of any benefit.
He also uses scripture to highlight to us what are the things that are worthwhile and what are not.
He even uses fellow Christians to guide us…
(now this is not a license for any of us to go about pointing out each others flaws, remember Jesus developed a relationship with the woman first and we should take the time to develop relationships with each other).
It is an action of love to highlight to the Samaritan woman and to us that some of the things we are devoted to, will only ever give us short term satisfaction.
We may not like it.
However in doing so Jesus helps us put our lives into perspective.
He helps us see that we should be more devoted to the things that offer us eternal life.
In doing so Jesus gives us another road to take.
A road that leads to life,
to the lush greenery of heaven,
not the emptiness that this world can only offer.
On this road He nourishes us with His life giving water.
The water we first experienced at our baptism, where we received promises that we can constantly call upon.
This road is constructed by God himself.
It exists because God wants us to be in heaven with him
And he knows the best we can do,
when left to ourselves,
is to build a crumbling road,
with a bridge that is guaranteed to collapse under the weight of our sins,
the things that trouble us.
So God builds us a road that is based on His son’s death and resurrection.
And he provides us with the necessary sustenance for this journey with him.
Our baptism, the scriptures, holy communion and worship.
These things are God’s tangible ways of showing us his love.
Of reinforcing and bringing his death and resurrection into our lives.
They say to the Samaritan women of today
and they say to each one of us.
God accepts you with all your flaws,
with all your bad habits
with all your burdens and worries.
And he has given and continues to give you the gift of eternal life.
So Jesus brings us from a state of brokenness,
of being burdened
to a state of being accepted by God,
of being comfortable with God,
to being welcomed and reconciled with God.