Meditations on Jesus in John’s Gospel : 28 : Jesus, bringer of Equality
Jn 4:7 When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?“
Our world is riven with divisions of all sorts. It seems division is one of the ‘natural’ fruits of Sin. The first sin in the Garden of Eden demonstrated that. The couple were immediately divided from God (they hid from Him, Gen 3:8) and from each other (he blamed her, Gen 3:12). In our world today we have prejudice – nationality against nationality, colour against colour, creed against creed etc. etc. – but also divisions at all levels of relational society – people against government or authority, employees versus employer, parent versus child. Division is rife.
In Jesus day, the Samaritans were a sort of under-class in the eyes of the traditional Jews. Their history meant that they had become a mixed race and in Jewish eyes, inferior. Women were largely seen as the inferior gender and power and authority was mostly in male hands, and often badly used. A woman on her own in public was likely to be considered dubious, they was some probably dubious reason why she was on her own; three things that make this woman who appears at the well where Jesus was resting, questionable, a woman who a respectable male Jew would avoid. Not so Jesus.
Jesus had no problem crossing national, religious, class or cultural boundaries. He was happy to talk to Romans (Mt 8:5-), Greeks (Mk 7:26), Samaritans, (4:7), civic leaders (Jn 3:1), blind beggars (Jn 9:1-), the morally strict (Mk 12:13-), the religiously liberal (Mk 12:18-), and the morally lax (Lk 15:1); Jesus came to ‘the world’.
It is perhaps easy to say this or write this, but the truth is that Jesus did it but we find it incredibly difficult. What would be the person or people you would find it difficult to speak to? Would it be the member of the Royal family? Would it be a powerful company director? Would it be a way-out pop star? Would it be a heavy metal addict? Would it be a drug addict? Would it be an alcoholic? Would it be an AIDS infected person? Would it be a known criminal? Would it be a wife beater? Would it be a paedophile? Would it be a Nazi, a Communist, a Conservative, a Socialist, or a Liberal? Would it be a beggar or simply someone unemployed? Would it be someone mentally retarded or physically disabled? Would it be a homosexual? Would it be an adulterer? Would it be a pornographer? Would they be black or white or brown? Would they be Muslim, Hindu or Jew? Would they be French or German or Spanish or a hundred other nationalities? If they came hungry and seeking, Jesus would not have a problem with any of these and hundreds of other types or groups that you might think of.
How did Jesus relate so easily to this woman in our verse today? First of all he knew he has something that could bless her: “Jesus answered her, ‘If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.’” (v.10). He also knew her plight: “you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband” (v.18). That was true of whoever came to Jesus. He knew he had resources to bless them and he knew their situation and their plight. Jesus came into the world to reveal God’s love – to whoever! We struggle to get past a person’s colour, their clothes, their appearance, their language, their expressions, their background, their philosophy of life, their quirks, and their unpleasantness, but Jesus sees past all of that and sees what they could become when they know his Father.