Summary: Christ calls us to a life of honesty and integrity - as He out it 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” Jn 4:24
Jesus and the Samaritan woman -Jn 4:5-26
Story: Many years ago, when I was down on Romney Marsh, I conducted the wedding between Darren Curtis and Zuraida Omarjee on 4th March 2006 in St Mary the Virgin church.
The bride and groom had chosen, as their Bible reading, a passage from I John 4 which included the verses 16-19 which read like this:
...God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.
17 This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. 18 There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
And the couple asked the Best Man to read the lesson.
As is my custom, we arranged the wedding rehearsal the night before and we walked through the service.
When we came to the part in the service where the Best Man was to read the lesson, I suggested that he practise there and then.
He said he didn’t need to - as he was confident he knew his way around the Bible, but I insisted and so he read his lesson.
And when he came to what he thought was 1 John’s Chapter 4 verses 16-19 we highly amused for this is what he read:
16 Jesus told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”
17 “I have no husband,” she replied.
Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband.
18 The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”
The Best Man had not paid sufficient attention to detail and so had muddled John’s Gospel up with the First Letter of St John.
Fortunately we caught his mistake in time and avoided any embarrassment on the wedding day.
In contrast Jesus was someone who paid a lot of attention to detail.
Story: Maddy and I were in a little Episcopalian Church two weeks ago on Long Island – St John’s in Oakdale – a very welcoming congregation, but it has not Vicar or Rector, though a local clergyman Fr Rick brings them communion once a month - out of the kindness of his heart as he has his own church a good number of miles away.
And the passage that Sunday was the story of Nicodemus who came to Jesus by night – and Jesus simply tossed him an intellectual hand grenade when he told Nicodemus: You must be born again.
This week, we read of Jesus’ conversation with the Samaritan woman – the woman at the well someone right at the other end of the social spectrum.
She was everything that Nicodemus was not.
As one Bible commentator put it:
“He was a Jew, she was a Samaritan
He was a man, she was a woman
He was learned, she was ignorant,
He was morally upright, she was of loose morals
He was wealthy and from the upper class, she was ignorant, probably an outcast
He recognised Jesus’ merits, she saw him only as a curious traveller.
Nicodemus was serious and dignified, she was flippant and possibly boisterous” (John: The Gospel of Belief - M.C.Tenney p.92)
Jesus treated people as individuals – and not as “one size fits all”.
And so we see Jesus presenting her with the Gospel in
a totally different way to Nicodemus.
Jesus brought the Gospel to Nicodemus by giving him an intellectual conundrum. “You must be born again” - and telling him to go away and think about it.
To the woman at the well, he brought the Gospel by telling her about her life through his prophetic power.
Jesus often defied convention, if it would give him an opportunity to share the Gospel or to teach his followers.
Conventional wisdom said that this meeting should never have taken place.
There were at least three good reasons that I can think of why no self-respecting Rabbi would have talked to this Samaritan woman at the well of Sychar:
1. She was a Samaritan
2. A single man did not strike up a conversation with a lone woman and
3. She had a pretty loose moral history. She had been married five times and now was living with a man who wasn’t her husband.
Yet Jesus defied convention.
Why? Because he saw a person who needed the Gospel.
Jesus touched her at her point of need.
His courteous questions awakened her spiritual need.
As you follow the story, you get the feeling that Jesus is like an angler fishing for trout.
First, Jesus casts his bait by asking her for a drink and then follows it up by saying: