Jesus was always full of surprises. He surprised the Pharisees. He surprised his own disciples. If we consider his life as though we’ve never heard anything about it, he surprises us. In John 4, he surprised a woman from the Samaritan town of Synchar.
She was surprised that Jesus was talking to her, a Samaritan. After all, the Jews and the Samaritans harbored deep resentment toward each other. But repeatedly, Jesus associated with outcasts and sinners. In this case, he asked the woman for a drink of water. They would drink from the same well–from the same bucket!
Jesus’s disciples were surprised that he was talking to a woman. After all, women were second class citizens. A close reading of scripture, however, reveals that some of Jesus’s closest friends were women.
We forget that Jesus usually lived against the grain of organized religion of his day, as well as the rules of proper society. We forget that I think, because we are part of organized religion today, and let’s face it, we are more comfortable in the company of proper society.
There are many issues that divide Christians today. If we spent our time trying to emulate the life Jesus lived, I doubt that we would have time to fight each other. We’d be united in doing the surprising.
After hearing of the living water Jesus offered, the Samaritan woman returned to her town, told her friends and neighbors what had happened, and led them to meet Jesus. “Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony.” (John 4:39, NIV)
What had caused the Samaritan woman to become a witness? What caused her friends and neighbors to believe in Jesus? The inclusive way he treated the woman. His inclusive message to her.
“…[A] time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain [where the Pharisees worshiped] nor in Jerusalem [where the Jews worshiped]…A time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” (John 4:23-24)
Is that time still with us?