This chapter tells of Jesus going outside of traditional Judaism among those his contemporaries considered to be their enemies, the Samaritans, the breach between them and the Jews can be traced to the Assyrian occupation of northern Palestine. I chose this topic because it speaks to our need to get out of the pews and go outside to a world that needs to hear about Jesus. I will admit that there is another reason that brought this to mind. Most of us find it easy to be nice where we are expected to be nice, like in church or around church friends or family. How do we react outside the walls of the church and away from our Christian contemporaries?
When Jesus meets the Samaritan woman at the well, he meets someone that is a total contrast to all he has been taught. Not only are some of her beliefs different and not only is he is not speaking to a male of the Jewish religious establishment but to a female of an enemy people. One lesson to be learned here is Jesus recognized the theological necessity of offering himself to those whom social convention deemed unacceptable. The social conventions of Jesus’ time would not allow Jesus to initiate a conversation with an unknown woman and certainly a Jewish teacher did not engage in public conversation with a woman. Jews also did not invite contact with Samaritans. So how serious would this be? It was a reflection of a fear of ritual contamination and this alone discouraged any and all social intercourse. So how is that relevant to us today? We are comfortable and feel safe among those like us and our church pews reflect that. Outside these walls we run the risk of being contaminated by those who don’t think like us, act like us, dress or look like us and in some cases don’t smell like us. If there is no one to go and tell them, how are they to know?
I encourage you to read the entire 4th chapter of John. As you read this chapter perhaps you might see yourself as taking the good news to unexpected places at unexpected times.