16 Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come back.” 17 The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband,’ 18 for you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you have said is true!” 19 The woman said to him, “Sir, I see that you are a prophet. 20 Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you say that the place where people must worship is in Jerusalem.”
The living water that Jesus offers runs deep into this woman’s dark corners because he desires this woman, and each of us, to experience truth and freedom from the broken parts of our lives. It’s uncomfortable, so it’s no wonder that she changes the subject.
- How easy is it for you to receive the living water of Jesus in your darkest places?
- What do you believe about yourself or Jesus that influences your openness to receiving the living water?
- Are there thoughts, attitudes, or activities that you practice to distract yourself from the places where Jesus desires to transform you?
Gracious God – nothing surprises you about our innermost thoughts, emotions, and attitudes, and yet, we confess that we try to hide the parts of ourselves that most need your living water to cleanse and heal. Help us to face the truth about ourselves in the assurance of your love and compassion that we may be whole and all you have created us to be. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming and is now here when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”
The woman was quick to change the subject when Jesus asked her about her personal life. And Jesus was gentle and open enough to address her question, rather than force putting her on the spot. And gives her a vision for the future where she has equal access to God through the Holy Spirit, regardless of gender or ethnicity.
- Can you think of a time when you changed the subject because you felt uncomfortable?
- How does Jesus’ invitation to worship outside the understood places at that time sit with you as you think about churches and denominations today?
- How do you worship God in spirit and truth?
Gracious God, thank you for your gentle invitations to transformation and your patience when we are resistant. Thank you that access to you is open to all, free of the “isms” that so often marginalize some and divide us. Help us to experience access to you and reflect that welcome to all we come into contact with. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
25 The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When he comes, he will proclaim all things to us.” 26 Jesus said to her, “I am he, the one who is speaking to you.”
I wonder what emotions her knowledge that “Messiah is coming” stirred in her. Her longing to belong, to understand, to have an anchor in a world where she had been tossed to and fro. It was to this woman, one limited in value by her culture, that Jesus revealed Himself as the Messiah, the Christ.
- What do you know that gives you hope?
- What is included in the “all things” that you desire Christ to proclaim to you?
- How are you posturing yourself to see Him when He reveals Himself to you unexpectedly?
Gracious God – What we know is a start but we confess that it is not enough. Thank you that you desire us meet us where we are at – what we know – and reveal yourself to us in surprising and unexpected ways. Give us an openness and readiness to see you when you appear. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
27 Just then his disciples came. They were astonished that he was speaking with a woman, but no one said, “What do you want?” or, “Why are you speaking with her?”
Here Jesus just revealed to the woman that He was the Messiah, and while it is sinking in, the disciples return and are shocked to see Jesus talking to, not a Samaritan, although they were hated by the Jews, but to a woman. The same moment that inspired joy for Jesus and the woman stirred up consternation for the disciples. They were beginning to learn that the kingdom of God broke through the religious and cultural structures that ruled their context.
- Can you think of a time when you almost missed the most important thing because you were distracted by your interpretation of a situation?
- Where do you need to experience belonging?
- Is there a place where you are being invited to align yourself more closely with the Jesus who breaks across ethnic and gender boundaries and grants access to all?
Gracious God, we confess that we wear lenses that are shaped by our cultural, religious, and historical influences. We acknowledge that this keeps us from seeing what is before us clearly and as you would see it. Help us to gain an awareness of our blurred vision and align ourselves with you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
28 Then the woman left her water jar and went back to the city. She said to the people, 29 “Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done! He cannot be the Messiah, can he?” 30 They left the city and were on their way to him.
Because of her encounter with Christ, the woman, who had snuck to the well in hopes of avoiding her community in shame, ran past the judgy disciples and back to the village where she was marginalized and proclaimed the good news of what Jesus had said to her. The hope instilled in her by Christ emboldened her and empowered her to share her story and invite others to experience the same hope.
- Are there places in your context where you don’t feel free to be yourself? If so, why?
- How do Jesus’ words invite you to step in boldly with your story of encountering Jesus?
- How are you carving out space in your life to hear good news from those at the margins?
Gracious God, thank you that your good news is good news for all, and that it has the power to transform us and embolden us to tell our story. Give us courage to speak when we have the opportunity and humility to listen to unexpected voices that have been sent by God. In Jesus’ name, Amen.