3 March 2012

John 4:1-26

"A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, 'Give me a drink.'" (v. 7)


When Jesus was tired he had the sense to sit down, and to ask for a drink when he was thirsty.

Remarkably, in the midst of all the discussions around ritual cleansing and uncleanness (see John chapters 2-4), Jesus is shown in the company of a woman of another faith asking for a drink.

Jesus shows no prejudice. He reflects an attitude of honesty and humility.

It is not he but the woman who expresses questions around prejudice and purity - 'You are a Jew. I am a Samaritan. How can you ask me for a drink?'

In reply, Jesus talks about the "living water" (v. 10) he can give: "The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life" (v. 14). These words point to the gift of new and transformed life Jesus offers, later described as 'abundant life' (John 10:10).

The woman appeals to Jesus: "Sir, give me this water so that I may never be thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water" (v. 15).

The Johannine Christian community (ie the first recipients of John's Gospel)underline their confidence that religious ritual (symbolised by water vessels in chapters 2 and 4) is not the source of nourishing abundant life. Rather it is Jesus himself.

This passage also includes a discussion on worship: "God is Spirit, and those who worship him must worship in the spirit and truth" (v. 24).

The woman, having declared Jesus a prophet, then says "I know that Messiah is coming" (v. 25), only for Jesus to declare: "I am he, the one who is speaking to you" (v. 26).

The thirsty, tired man, asking for a drink, is the Messiah and offers the fullness of life.

To Ponder

How do you rest and refresh yourself?

Where do you find it easiest to worship? Why?

Bible notes author

The Revd Inderjit Bhogal

Inderjit Bhogal is a Methodist minister with a wide experience at local, regional, national and international levels. He is a former president of the British Methodist Conference and is currently working as leader of the Corrymeela Community in Northern Ireland.