Day 9 - Friday, March 6 Unpacking Truth DAILY READING - Jn 4:1-42 There is so much that we could unpack in today’s reading. When people move across the country into a new house, important boxes fill the new house in an overwhelming fashion. Like a family facing a moving truck of important boxes to unpack, we have to decide what to unpack first. Today, we will concentrate on just a few of the important boxes, even though there are many that we could unpack. Chapter four of the Fourth Gospel begins with a journey. Jesus and his disciples left Judea where they had been baptizing near John the Baptizer and drawing too much attention from Pharisees. The shortest route from Judea back to Galilee included a trek through Samaria. Jews despised Samaria. More on that in just a bit. John 4:4 says that Jesus “had to” go through Samaria. Some theologians have said this characterizes the antipathy between Jews and Samaritans (Carson, 216). They see it as Jesus “had to” subject himself to the Samaritans as part of the journey. Others mark “had to” as a propulsion forward into divine compulsion and orchestration (Carson, 216). I think we can consider both ideas working in unison as truth. Jesus “had to” travel through Samaria if he wanted to take the shortest route; and, he “had to” because there was some divine work to be done in Samaria. Why did the Jews despise the Samaritans? Samaritans were (a few still exist) a group of people of mixed blood. When the Assyrians captured Samaria in 722-721 BC, they carried off all of the Israelites who were educated, wealthy, and talented. The cream of the crops were scooped away with the Assyrians. In an Israelite’s opinion, what was left in Samaria were the low lifes. Think of a caste system society. The Samaritans were the untouchables. Not only were they the cast off Israelites, they began intermarrying with pagans. The Jews considered the Samaritans to be political rebels and racial half-breeds (Carson, 216). To a Jewish person, a Samaritan person was untouchable. A Samaritan woman would be perpetually unclean to a Jewish man. Jewish Rabbis often considered their own wives unclean and unworthy of their time. Beyond unclean, women were insignificant. A Samaritan woman was the least of the least. Yet, Jesus speaks to the Samaritan woman at the well. He doesn’t just speak to her. He asks her for a drink of water. What does this say about the nature of Jesus? Let’s back up a bit and also talk about the fact that she was drawing water from the well at noon. Most women traveled to the well in the morning to draw water for the needs of the day. This woman was at the well in the heat of the day. Either she was such an outcast that others didn’t want to be with her, or she FELT like such an outcast that she traveled alone. Isn’t that what shame does? Shame convinces us that we are uniquely tainted. Are there times in your own life when you have convinced yourself it was better to be alone than with other people because of something you had done? Have you ever told yourself that something you had done was so bad that others would never understand? How does shame reinforce loneliness? Consider the ways that you distance yourself from others and from God because of shame. Jesus met the woman right where she was. Jesus meets you right where you are, too. Jesus does not shy away from shame. He faces it head on and calls it out. Maybe that’s what scares us. It doesn’t need to. To the Samaritan woman, he reveals his insight into her truth. Jesus sees your truth, too. He’s not scared of it. He’s the light that will bring it out of darkness. Read Isaiah 55:1-7. How does this passage of Scripture relate to what Jesus is doing with the Samaritan woman? The transformative work of the Savior saves the Samaritan woman. The spirit and truth comes to her in revelation. Christ admits that he is the Messiah. Can you imagine the intensity of the awe and wonder experienced by this woman? It was so grand that she dropped her jars and ran to the village to tell all of the people about Jesus. The one who was outcasted. The one who was alone mid-day. The unclean one. She ran into her town to proclaim the good news. She was the first evangelist. A woman, proclaiming the good news of the Messiah to men and women. John 4:42 says that they believed because of her words and because they heard for themselves. Where would we be without the Samaritan woman, the first evangelist? What does this pericope say about sharing our stories? What does this pericope tell us about Jesus? What does this say about the power of Jesus, the living water? How will you move forward knowing all of this?