This was the Sunday message following the Christchurch massacre. It was a God moment: Jesus, a Jew, encountering a disenfranchised Samaritan woman, alone at a rural well. It was an encounter that should never have been and broke a myriad of cultural taboos.
And yet it did, and not only this woman but a whole village came to hear what Jesus had to say, and respond to His invitation to worship the God they knew but were unable to wholly worship due to the Jewish restrictions.
Jesus’ response to one person in one moment was the way to approach those who are different, even “enemy”. And Jesus did this despite weariness, heat, hunger, thirst and cultural etiquette, and hostility.
Jesus recognised the woman’s ‘thirst’ of desire and its origin. He offered ‘living water’ to quench that thirst. She immediately countered with questions about worship, and God. Jesus recognised her question and showed her a glimpse of a time when the Jerusalem Temple would not be involved in worship – and the Jews would worship in Spirit and truth, with the Samaritans, and Gentiles.
Of course, if the Jews heard such things, Jesus would never have made it out alive. Indeed, He was in Samaria because He had to get out of Judea in a hurry, away from the Pharisees who were growing suspicious.
This encounter is an example of overcoming hostility through listening and opening doors to reconciliation as we have been reconciled to God through Jesus. Wrongs made right. Surprising grace to this woman, to the Samaritans, to Israel, to us.
In the wake of the Christchurch murder of innocent Muslims, this was a timely reading and message.
We should keep the living water of Jesus flowing through true worship – not of tradition (like the Jews) nor obstinacy (like the Samaritans) nor idolatry (like this woman), but of the God who creates and sustains us, and who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus death & resurrection.