July 12, 2009

John 4.1-42

A report now reached the Pharisees: "Jesus is winning and baptizing more disciples than John"; although in fact it was only the disciples who were baptizing and not Jesus himself. When Jesus learned this, he left Judea and set out once more for Galilee. He had to pass through Samaria, and on his way came to a Samaritan town called Sychar, near the plot of ground which Jacob gave to his son Joseph and the spring called Jacob's Well.

It was about noon, and Jesus sat down by the well. The disciples had gone away to the town to buy food. Meanwhile a Samaritan woman came to draw water. Jesus said to her, "Give me a drink."

The Samaritan woman said, "What? You, a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?" (Jews and Samaritans, it should be noted, do not use vessels in common.)

Jesus answered her, "If only you knew what God gives, and who it is that is asking you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water."

"Sir," the woman said, "you have no bucket and this well is deep. How can you give me 'living water.' Are you a greater man than Jacob our ancestor, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, he and his sons, and his cattle too."

Jesus said, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water that I shall give him will never suffer thirst any more. The water that I give him will be an inner spring always welling up for eternal life."

"Sir," said the woman, "give me that water, and then I shall not be thirsty, nor have to come all this way to draw."

Jesus replied, "Go home, call your husband and come back."

She answered, "I have no husband."

"You are right," said Jesus, "in saying that you have no husband, for although you have had five husbands, the man with whom you are now living is not your husband; you told the truth there."

"Sir," she replied, "I can see that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but the Judeans say that the Temple where God should be worshiped is in Jerusalem."

"Believe me," said Jesus, "the time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship without knowing what you worship, while we worship what we know. It is from the Jews that salvation comes. But the time approaches, indeed is already here, when those who are real worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. Such are the worshipers whom the Father wants. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth."

The woman answered, "I know that the Messiah" (that is 'Christ') "is coming. When he comes he will tell us everything."

Jesus said, "I am he, I who am speaking to you now."

At that moment his disciples returned, and were astonished to find him talking with a woman; but none of them said, "What do you want?" or "Why are you talking with her?"

The woman put down her water-jar and went away to the town, where she said to the people, "Come and see a man who has told me everything I ever did! Could this be the Messiah?"

They came out of the town and made their way towards him.

Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, "Rabbi, have something to eat."

But he said, "I have food to eat of which you know nothing."

At this the disciples said to one another, "Can someone have brought him food?"

But Jesus said, "It is meat and drink for me to do the will of him who sent me until I have finished his work.

"Do you not say, 'Four months and then comes harvest!'? But look, I tell you, look round on the fields; they are already white, ripe for harvest. The reaper is drawing his pay and gathering a crop for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. That is how the saying comes true: 'One sows, and another reaps.' I sent you to reap a crop for which you have not toiled. Others toiled and you have come in for the harvest of their toil."

Many Samaritans of that town came to believe in him because of the woman's testimony: "He told me everything I ever did!"

So when these Samaritans had come to him they pressed him to stay, and he stayed with them for two days. Many more became believers because of what they heard from his own lips. They told the woman, "It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard him ourselves; and we know that this is in truth the Savior of the world."


At 12:00 p.m., Blogger Diane said...

Given what I think is about to be said about recognizing one's self as spirit born, this passage I can see differently than I have before, in that it could be about the mind's discernment.

I am reminded of the verse: "... Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes …with the will of God." ~Rom 8.26-27

This Romans verse speaks of prayer, wherein we can open ourselves to the inner voice (which I can equate to living water).

The rest is that no one can do it for you, however, and it is between you and your inner light (not on a mountain top).

I have no idea what "it is from the Jews that salvation comes" means, or in what context.

But "God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth" is a central statement that really focuses what it is we should be doing when we gather for worship. The rest would then be about spiritual nourishment.

At 1:35 p.m., Blogger forrest said...

Okay, I'm taking the 'concrete' side of this one too. "The Jews" in this context would be the main group of people who consider themselves falling within the mainstream covenant tradition. The Samaritans are reading the same basic five books but interpreting them differently in a few particulars; the "Jews" here are those people who have refused to consider the Samaritans fellow-Israelites, instead calling them a hodgepodge of idolatrous aliens moved into their country by the Assyrian Empire. (According to the Samaritans themselves, by the way, they descend from Israelites who stuck to the old traditions and refused to accept a king, way back when Samuel reluctantly (?) imposed one. Whichever account is truest, when the Persians returned a group of Judean exiles to build a Temple in Jerusalem (& be their client rulers) that group refused to accept Samaritan help, and there've been bad feelings and bad behavior between them ever since! Jesus talking to them at all is a major break in custom, as the woman here remarks.)

"Salvation" for a first century Jew would be the re-establishment of God's rule over Israel--presumably with a Jewish government, but one responsive to Ezekiel's pronouncement, that any foreigner who's had a child in the country merits all the rights to proper treatment of citizenship.


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