Summary: Jesus met the woman at the well & showed us how to communicate with those outside, & what we have to offer - a past, future & present in Him
Just a woman
John 4: 4-26
I know as a man this is going to sound patronizing & that’s not my intent, but it’s hard being a woman isn’t it?! It’s something often men haven’t even noticed, but praise God we are getting more educated.
I have done enough funerals to know that it used be even harder. I remember well tales families affectionately told of mum doing this job & that job, & that bit of cleaning, & took in other people’s washing just to help make ends meet; while all the while somehow having enough time let alone energy to raise 5 or 6 children.
It was even worse 2000 years ago. It is not unusual anymore to see woman in all sorts of roles - Prime Minister, Clergy – maybe later this year even a woman President in the USA, but back then in Biblical lands woman were sidelined as almost irrelevant, & if there is a struggle these days for women’s rights, it was impossible back then.
Women were not even allowed to sit in same area of Synagogue & to compound that the woman in our story today is even more disadvantaged, for she is not a Jew.
Picture if you can the scene in your minds eye: a deserted well on a dusty road in the sweltering heat of the noonday sun. Noel Coward said that only ‘mad dogs & English men go out in the midday sun’, yet here we have this woman & the Son of God in exactly that place.
Of course she is there because she wants to be at the well when no-one else is. I wonder if we can imagine how she must have felt to be such an outcast amongst her own people that she is prepared to go out at the most inhospitable time of the day just to avoid others. Jesus is there though breaking every taboo in His culture precisely to speak to her, & I believe what He showed her He seeks to share with us today too.
Jesus wants to communicate because unlike it would seem everyone else He sees not just another woman, not just a woman with a murky past, not just an outsider; no Jesus see a precious beautiful human life & wants relationship with her. That is first lesson we need to take from this encounter.
Is Jesus criterion the one we use in our valuations of other folk or instead do we look at what people wear, where they live, how many partners they have had?
Equally Jesus was prepared to break the cultural rules in order to communicate. I wonder when the last time we did that if ever was?
It is so important that we see in this account that our God is a God interested in personal relationship with His creation, & He demands no less from all of us.
When Jesus greets her He does so in a wonderfully ordinary way, just asking ‘Can I have a drink?’ O how I wish we were the same in our dealings with people. Too often we dress up Jesus & His offer of life to us so much, but here we see Him at His most natural – none of our pretensions or falseness, just ordinary & normal & approachable.
Jesus talks to the woman & gets beyond the things we get bogged down in – you know like what the weather is like, or how worried we are about Mrs x or Mr Y, or how awful it is that the Wolves have lost again etc. Jesus wants to speak to the woman about her spiritual needs. How often do we get stuck on the frivolous and unimportant, instead of allowing the Spirit’s gifting to get us to the heart of the matter?
As Christ’s ambassadors we are all called to this ministry of sharing our faith. We can do no better than to ask God to make us like Jesus this day at the well. So what does He offer her, & likewise what does He offer you today?
I’ve been sadden on my Christian journey to encounter people trapped by the mistakes & horrors of yesterday. Many like this woman are desperate for peace.
Too often we the Church have been expert at uncovering faults but Jesus isn’t interested in making this woman or anyone else feels guilty - far from it.
Instead Jesus doesn’t change her history, but instead gives her the strength to cope with her past; the forgiveness & assurance she needed so badly.
Today you might be in the same boat as the woman? There are literally thousands out there who are for sure. To us & them Jesus stands ready to bring forgiveness & assurance.
Yet that isn’t the end for we are offered living water literally “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.” v 14 NRSV. By His Spirit - & the Holy Spirit alone - we can receive so much: a present refreshed & a future secure and full of hope, & the amazing blessing of God with us day by day.