The harvest is ready
Now when Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John (although Jesus himself did not baptize, but only his disciples), he left Judea and departed again for Galilee. And he had to pass through Samaria. So he came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the field that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there; so Jesus, wearied as he was from his journey, was sitting beside the well. It was about the sixth hour.
A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, ”Give me a drink.” (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, ”If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.”
Jesus said to her, ”Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.”
Jesus said to her, ”Go, call your husband, and come here.” The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, ”You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.” The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” Jesus said to her, ”Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.” Jesus said to her, ”I who speak to you am he.”
Just then his disciples came back. They marveled that he was talking with a woman, but no one said, “What do you seek?” or, “Why are you talking with her?” So the woman left her water jar and went away into town and said to the people, ”Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” They went out of the town and were coming to him.
Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.” But he said to them, ”I have food to eat that you do not know about.” So the disciples said to one another, “Has anyone brought him something to eat?” Jesus said to them, ”My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work. Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest. Already the one who reaps is receiving wages and gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.”
Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me all that I ever did.” So, when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there two days. And many more believed because of his word. They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.” John 4:1-42
From this passage, we know that the woman at the well went to draw water later in the day, when it was hottest and when others would not be at the well. It is often thought that she chose this time to avoid seeing other community members, to keep to herself, perhaps in shame. It is important to note that in this day, most Jewish people looked down upon Samaritans. Samaritans were seen as less-than members of society, and their experience was often one of oppression and violence. For Jesus, a Jewish rabbi, to accept a drink from a Samaritan, a woman, much less speak to her, would have been unthinkable.
But, God, our Christ, meets this Samaritan woman exactly where she is. Our Christ responds to her surprise and her questions about His identity with the promise of living water, the promise of eternal life. Our Christ was generous with His compassion to her, right in the middle of her ordinary day in her community. Our Christ does not condemn her; our Christ does not focus on her past. Many commentaries in existence discuss the meaning of her five husbands and the possible reasons why she may have been married multiple times. Our Christ does not. Instead, Jesus points her to the Father, to what it means to worship in spirit and in truth, to Himself as the Messiah. In response, she leaves her water jar behind at the well and shares her testimony with the townspeople, many of whom believe.
Who are we intentionally or unintentionally discounting or looking down upon? What judgment or oppression of others do we need to repent of? The harvest of those in need is great; the harvest of those thirsting for living water is abundant. How will we respond?
Our Christ chose this woman, on this day, at this time to reveal Himself as “I Am” for the first time. Our Christ intentionally chose fellowship and He intentionally broke down the cultural barriers that would have otherwise prevented this fruitful interaction that led to many believing. May it be so with us today, too.
Lord, thank you for your presence and your radical generosity to us. Thank you for our church community. Thank you for the woman at the well and your example of compassion without bounds. Please help us to welcome your presence and thereby embrace compassion. Please help us to honor you by honoring others around us. Please lead, guide, and direct us as we move forward with Your clarity and vision this new year. Ellen Hefner
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