Monday, March 13, 2017

A surprising match (John 4)

Jesus says to the Samaritan woman: “will you give me a drink?” (v7)

The Samaritan woman seems surprised and defensive.


It’s surprising that Jesus should ask this woman for a drink for 3 reasons:

The Samaritan woman’s 3-fold exclusion:

(1) woman

feminism had not yet reached ancient Palestine – women’s lib had a long way to go

V27 – the disciples are surprised to find Jesus talking with a woman - it was not done for men to talk to women in public

Jewish prayer, “Blessed art thou O Lord who has not made me a woman”

An unusual leading lady

Not the most eligible of brides:

(2) Samaritan, v9

traditional enemies of the Jews – that’s why the Good Samaritan is a surprising hero in Jesus’ parable

Samaria was captured by the Assyrians centuries ago. Assyrian Conquest - 720BC ? - Large numbers of the inhabitants were deported from the Northern Kingdom of Israel and replaced by people from the Assyrian empire in 729BC. (2 Kings 17:24.)

The worship of idols was added to the worship of the true God and there was a multi-cultural, multi-faith society

Hostility between the Samaritans and the Jews who returned from exile (Ezra 4:2, 9-10)

The Samaritans had built a temple on Mt Gerizim (v20) in around 400BC which was burnt by the Jews around 128BC.

The Jews saw the Samaritans as political rebels, racial half-breds and as theologically tainted religious mongrels

(3) notoriously immoral

a tart, a slut – the people of Samaria probably found worse things to call her

v18 - Jesus says to her: “The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband”

Unusual today – unheard of in 1st C Palestine

this woman had quite a reputation

social outcast, perhaps that is why she comes to the well at the “6th hour” (v6) = noon

the hottest time of the day, in the heat of the baking Palestinian mid-day sun

hardly the hour for manual labour

deliberately choosing the time when no one else would be around

mad dogs and Englishmen and social pariahs go out in the mid-day sun

Especially unusual for a rabbi to speak to a sinful woman like this

Jesus doesn't care about his reputation or what others think of him

Jesus bothers to stop and talk to this woman and engages with her

Who knows how many sexual partners this woman had had

Perhaps Jesus is the only man in a long while to be interested in her for anything other than her freely available body

Jesus treats her with respect and dignity

Jesus isn’t bound by social convention

His love reaches across every conceivable barrier and embraces all

(Lessons for us there)

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