Sunday 12th March 2023
Psalm 95; Exodus 17 : 1 – 7; Romans 5 : 1 – 11, 13 – 17; John 4 : 5 – 42
By Local Preacher, Brenda Isherwood (Yate).
John’s gospel says that Jesus, setting out from Jerusalem for his native Galilee, “had” to pass through Samaria however, although most Jews would have taken a detour around the land of Samaria because there were other routes, Jesus deliberately chose to travel through Samaria. The hostility towards the Samaritans was of long standing, there had been centuries of loathing towards them. Although the Samaritans worshipped the same God as the Jews, and believed that a Messiah would come, the Jews considered them not as true Jews, but as a mongrel breed, as foreigners, idolators and hypocrites.
There was a Jewish saying at the time ‘May I never set eyes on a Samaritan!’, but Jesus intentionally went there. So, it was not by chance that Jesus was where the woman would be, even though she came at a time when she thought no one else would be there, to a well most people did not use, away from others in the city because of how she was regarded by her fellow citizens because of the immoral life she was leading. She is a rejected and lonely figure, a person in need … and then she meets Jesus, who is there for her. He speaks to her, not just a few words but a very telling conversation and it was not the custom for a Hebrew man to talk with any female in public, — and this was not just any woman but a Samaritan, and one whose life style, at that time was very much frowned upon, and Jesus knows this, knows all about her, knows the life she is living and despite this, accepts her and loves her still. He tells her about the living water of faith, and then significantly reveals to her, this Samaritan woman, who he really is. She believes him and she cannot wait to tell others, she who shunned the company of her people, now goes running to tell them of Christ and they respond!
It has always been part of our church tradition that no one is beyond the reach of Christ’s love, he reaches out to all of us, no matter who we are or what we have done, and we often find him there, waiting for us at the moment of our greatest need. Jesus was there for the woman at the well, he is there for us, and once we have met him, believe in him, trust him, his love is within us, his holy spirit, like a living water of love, it is there for each one of us, and it is something we are able to share with others, as there is no shortage no rationing of it, no expectation of a reward, it is freely given overflowing and bountiful. Meeting Jesus changed the woman at the well, it changes all those who meet him, perhaps we by our actions can enable others to meet Christ. Amen.
Father, we pray for all those who feel unwanted and unloved for those who feel they are undeserving of love, for those who feel they are different and not acceptable, help them to recognise that you accept all people, that the living water of your holy Spirit is for everyone, that no one is excluded. Amen.