One of the features of John’s beautiful Gospel are the stories of people who encounter Jesus. In contrast with the other evangelists, John draws out the encounters, showing interplay between Jesus and his conversation partner. In these moments, I think we can make a more personal connection with Jesus, and know that he is patient with our search of understanding and meaning in life. Like Nicodemus in last week’s encounter, Jesus transforms the life, this time of an unnamed woman, who stops at a well for an unexpected conversation.
The first thing we learn from Jesus at the well, is that in God’s there are no barriers between God’s people. The woman who visits the well is doing so in the middle of the day, at a time when she can reasonably expect nobody else would be there. She is probably a woman of questionable reputation, ostracized by the other woman who use the well in the morning when the temperature would have been cooler. That a man would be at the well at the same time must have been a great surprise to her. But after they talked, something even more surprising would happen.
The woman is reluctant to give water to Jesus, symbolic of the social barriers of the time (man/woman, Jew/Samaritan, moral/immoral), but none of that matters to Jesus, who makes a stunning claim, that Jesus would draw water for her, and that this water would be “living water”, water that would quench thirst for all eternity. As we saw with Nicodemus last week, the woman did not quite get what Jesus meant, at first. The conversation continued and the woman was amazed at what Jesus was able to tell her about herself.
Then a most amazing thing happens. This marginalized and shunned woman runs from Jesus to tell her neighbors about her encounter with Jesus and invited them to come and see – and John tells us that they listened to her, and came. This lonely woman at the well, received living water from Jesus, and was transformed that day from social outcast, to inspired evangelist – from outsider, to a leader of a movement.
How have your encounters with Jesus transformed you?
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Devotions for the Week of March 19, 2017
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Gustavus Adolphus Lutheran Church (GA) in New York City has been chosen as one of eight internship congregations to participate this year in a church-wide initiative designed to increase our understanding of Holy Scripture and most importantly, to cultivate our engagement with it. In partnership with The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, Vicar John Heidgerd will be working to develop innovative ways to deepen our faith formation and sense of discipleship for the sake of ourselves and our communities.