Day 11: John 4:1-45

Roman Palestine was a hot, dusty climate. Most people only had access to water through wells or cisterns. Water is the difference between life and death, but that does not make it simple or easy to find. Jesus was thirsty like everyone was thirsty, and he waited by a well for someone to bring him water. He had the power to make water out of nothing, but he waited for someone else to draw water from the well for him.

The Samaritan woman who came to the well did not expect to be spoken to by a Jewish man. Jews and Samaritans had divided over religious issues. Among those issues was a disagreement over where God had told his people to worship him. The Jews believed the one temple was meant for Jerusalem, while the Samaritans worshiped God on Mount Gerazim. The woman refers to this disagreement when Jesus demands water.

Jesus’s response rejects the idolatry of place that both groups sometimes indulged in. He promises instead that people can worship God “in spirit and in truth” because of something new in the world. Jesus is that something new. he is the “living water” which he offers to the Samaritan woman, and which she eagerly accepts. Unlike the physical limitations of water and place, “spirit and truth” are available at all times and in all places through Jesus.

Like the living water, the food of doing the will of God does not rot or need replenishing. The good food of God’s work is sustaining forever. 

The reception of Jesus’ words among the Samaritans stands in contrast to the rejection of the Pharisees and the lukewarm reception of Jesus’ own Galileans. The Samaritans were wrong about the scriptures, but they were the eager receivers of Christ. People worship God in spirit and truth because they receive him, not because they have demonstrated superior religiosity.

Question: Are there places in your life where you have limited God to this holy place or that set of expectations instead of receiving him as the Samaritan woman did?

Prayer: Lord, give me the eager faith of the Samaritan woman, who received you even when she did not understand. Give me the grace to worship you in spirit and truth and be refreshed by your living water.