Eventually he came to the Samaritan village of Sychar, near the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there; and Jesus, tired from the long walk, sat wearily beside the well about noontime. Soon a Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Please give me a drink.” He was alone at the time because his disciples had gone into the village to buy some food. The woman was surprised, for Jews refuse to have anything to do with Samaritans. She said to Jesus, “You are a Jew, and I am a Samaritan woman. Why are you asking me for a drink?” Jesus replied, “If you only knew the gift God has for you and who I am, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.” “But sir, you don’t have a rope or a bucket,” she said, “and this is a very deep well. Where would you get this living water? And besides, are you greater than our ancestor Jacob who gave us this well? How can you offer better water than he and his sons and his cattle enjoyed?” Jesus replied, “People soon become thirsty again after drinking this water. But the water I give them takes away thirst altogether. It becomes a perpetual spring within them, giving them eternal life.”
As a child heads outside to the front yard to play, his mother warns the child not to talk with strangers. This appropriate boundary will guard the child against possible harm. Boundaries like these are helpful, but other negative cultural boundaries actually prevent us from following Jesus’ example of reaching out to our neighbors.
In Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman, Jesus crosses numerous boundaries that he was probably taught to obey as a young Jewish boy. Many Jews during Jesus’ time would not even speak with Samaritans and might even go out of their way to walk all the way around where Samaritans live. I assume that there were special names and slurs created to degrade Samaritans who were culturally and religiously different from their Jewish neighbors. Jesus sets aside these sinful boundaries by entering into conversation with a Samaritan.
He then crosses two further boundaries by speaking with a woman and a person of moral failure. In order to remain pure and upright, Jesus would have been taught to avoid this woman of questionable history. Jesus ignores these lessons of his culture and reaches across boundaries to invite this woman, whom God loves, to experience the living water of eternal life.
What boundaries do we allow in our own lives that separate us from others and prevent us from sharing the living water found in Jesus?
Jesus, break through the boundaries in my life and open me up to reaching out to others with the gift of living water.
Dialog discuss: Tony Jones, author of The New Christians: I now believe that GLBTQ can live lives in accord with biblical Christianity (at least as much as any of us can!) and that their monogamy can and should be sanctioned and blessed by church and state. (BTW, for those unfamiliar with the acronym GLBTQ it stands for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer. And for those who are unfamiliar with the acronym BTW…are you kidding me?)