The Samaritan Woman

The Samaritan Woman – a different perspective

This is about the well-known story of the Samaritan woman whom Jesus encountered at Jacob’s well near Sychar in Samaria. The gospel is full of meaning for John’s readers but possibly lost on us today.

The woman is generally portrayed as being of ill-repute. She avoids people by coming to the well at a time when others would not. She stumbles upon Jesus resting after a long and continuing journey. Leaving for the moment the conversation between them, how could this woman receive an overwhelmingly positive response from her friends and neighbours when she returns to her village? She called them to drop everything and come and see a Jewish man she has just met! Something does not add up here.

The advice to travellers from the Jewish equivalent of the Home Office at that time was DON’T TRAVEL THROUGH SAMARIA. So why did Jesus do just that? Jews and Samaritans did not get on! The journey from Judea to Galilee, avoiding Samaria, took three times longer. Was Jesus in a hurry? There is no indication in John’s gospel that he was.

It is significant that Jacob’s well is close to the “land that Jacob gave to his son Joseph” Symbolically, Jesus has come to re-unite Judean Israelites and Samaritan Israelites at the very place where the promise of reunification was made to Jacob in the Old Testament (Josh 24:1-32) Jesus has come “to do the will of my Father”.

The ensuing conversation between Jesus and the woman shows her to be well versed in scripture. So much so that she hurries back to the village saying: “Come and see a man who has told me everything. Could this be the Christ?” Would the villagers have believed her if she had been a woman of ill-repute? Jesus does not say so. The poor woman’s husbands may have died, they may have just left her, they may have divorced her (she would have had no say in that!) She may be now living with a male relative because she was destitute. Jesus understood her. We do not. In the same way he understands every single one of us.

Jesus, clearly, was not in a hurry. He stayed with them for another two days so that many came to believe “that he really is the saviour of the world!”

Would Jesus take time out to come to our village? Who would he meet on the way? Are we, every single one of us, ready to receive him?