Friday 30 June 2017

Bible Book:

“The woman said to him, ‘I know that Messiah is coming’ (who is called Christ). ‘When he comes, he will proclaim all things to us.’ Jesus said to her, ‘I am he, the one who is speaking to you.’” (vv. 25-26)

John 4:1-26 Friday 30 June 2017

Psalm: Psalm 27


The first four verses of John 4 give us narrative context forthe conversation which is about to unfold at Jacob's well. ThePharisees were shifting their attention from John the Baptist toJesus, so he decided to return to his home country in Galilee,travelling via Samaria, 'foreign' territory. And here, while thedisciples were off shopping, he encounters a woman, coming alone todraw water, at the worst, hottest time of day, suggesting that shewas something of an outcast in her own community.

Much has been said about the extended conversation which ensues,particularly about Jesus as the breaker-down of barriers, racial,religious and gender. This is a wonderful case study in the meaningof incarnation, the making flesh of the divine. So much is humanand earthily corporeal: Jesus' bodily needs for rest and drink; thewoman's reputation which Jesus clearly knew; those social, racialand religious divides. The woman tests what he says withintelligent, sensible down-to-earth questions; she wants thephysical living water of his metaphor, not least so she won't haveto keep coming to the well every day in the heat.

The rich dialogue proceeds at a dizzying pace, and concludeswhen the disciples return, with one of the key statements in John'sGospel, Jesus confessing his messiahship. It is to this heretical,female, foreign serial monogamist that he first declares his truenature.

Psalm 27 is another confident individual poem to follow Psalm26, but there is no tinge of arrogance this time: theconfidence is in the Lord, not the poet's own merits. Well aware oflife's struggles, he (or could it be a she, a sister of the laterwoman at the well) rejoices in absolute dependence on God, apatient longing based on trusting faith.

Joy to the world is usually associated withChristmas, but is actually about the coming of the Lord moregenerally and the Lord's sovereignty. It could comfortably sitamong the biblical Psalms, celebrating the universal work of God inChrist.

To Ponder

  • How far would you have kept your common-sense calm in theconversation as well as did the Samaritan woman?
  • How does the sublime poetry of Psalm 29 sit with youtoday?
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