This week’s Monday Morning Scripture is a day late—but this Scripture passage is particularly relevant this week as we grieve and pray for the community affected by Sunday’s Sikh temple shooting.
Are you familiar with the term “The Other?” It’s used to identify someone who exists outside the borders of what’s accepted in your own culture or society. Someone might be labeled “Other” because of their ethnicity, nationality, religion, poverty, or many other factors. Throughout history, individuals and groups branded as “Other” have found themselves marginalized, shunned, and sometimes persecuted.
For Jews in the 1st century, Samaritans were definitely “Others.” That made it shocking for Jesus to be talking with a Samaritan woman in John 4. Beyond her nationality, it turned out that this woman was a known adulterer—yet another reason Jesus should have been keeping his distance. With that in mind, read how Jesus treated this woman who was about as “Other” as you could get.
He had to go through Samaria on the way. Eventually he came to the Samaritan village of Sychar, near the field that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there; and Jesus, tired from the long walk, sat wearily beside the well about noontime. Soon a Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Please give me a drink.” He was alone at the time because his disciples had gone into the village to buy some food.
The woman was surprised, for Jews refuse to have anything to do with Samaritans. She said to Jesus, “You are a Jew, and I am a Samaritan woman. Why are you asking me for a drink?”
Jesus replied, “If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.”
“But sir, you don’t have a rope or a bucket,” she said, “and this well is very deep. Where would you get this living water? And besides, do you think you’re greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us this well? How can you offer better water than he and his sons and his animals enjoyed?”
Jesus replied, “Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.”
“Please, sir,” the woman said, “give me this water! Then I’ll never be thirsty again, and I won’t have to come here to get water.”
“Go and get your husband,” Jesus told her.
“I don’t have a husband,” the woman replied.
Jesus said, “You’re right! You don’t have a husband—for you have had five husbands, and you aren’t even married to the man you’re living with now. You certainly spoke the truth!”
“Sir,” the woman said, “you must be a prophet. So tell me, why is it that you Jews insist that Jerusalem is the only place of worship, while we Samaritans claim it is here at Mount Gerizim, where our ancestors worshiped?”
Jesus replied, “Believe me, dear woman, the time is coming when it will no longer matter whether you worship the Father on this mountain or in Jerusalem. You Samaritans know very little about the one you worship, while we Jews know all about him, for salvation comes through the Jews. But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.”
The woman said, “I know the Messiah is coming—the one who is called Christ. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”
Then Jesus told her, “I Am the Messiah!” — John 4:4-26 (NLT)
Questions to Consider
- Who are the “Others” in your local culture? What does this story teach you about interacting with them?
- Later on in this passage, we read that through this woman’s testimony, many came to know Jesus. How do you think your story of encountering Jesus might help others?
- What does Jesus mean when he says that the time has come to worship God “in spirit and in truth?”