Thursday

25 June 2020

John 4:1-26

‘It was about noon.’

Psalm: Psalm 63:1-8

Background

Jesus has now decided to leave Judea and return to  Galilee because the Pharisees have heard that Jesus and his disciples are baptizing more people than John. It seems as if Jesus wants to avoid an unwelcome competition with John and his followers, fuelled by the Pharisees hoping perhaps to divide and rule the movements breaking out among the people.

On his way back Jesus goes through Samaria and starts a conversation with a Samaritan woman he meets at the well. As we mentioned on Tuesday, this woman has several disadvantages compared to Nicodemus. She is certainly not a teacher of Israel and she is a woman, a Samaritan and a sinner; all problems that are highlighted by the author in these verses and the next.

While the conversation with Nicodemus happened at night, this conversation happens at noon. The author is not just noting the time but seems to be adding a theological significance to these conversations. The darkness and light act as a metaphor for each of the character’s ability to be enlightened by Jesus’ message.

The conversation is not exactly straightforward and it is not as if the woman instantly understands, but she does seem to get there in the end. Who else does Jesus entrust with the straightforward statement that he is the messiah? He certainly doesn’t say this to Nicodemus.

As well as the time of day, the author also notes the place where this happened, namely Jacob’s well that he then gave to Joseph.  Geography is also important in the discussion between the woman and Jesus. Where is the correct place to worship God? But it seems that geography or ancestry no longer matter, it is those who worship in spirit and in truth who are the true worshippers.

 

To Ponder: 

  • At the time of writing the COVID-19 pandemic means that churches are closed. What has it meant to worship in spirit and in truth during this time?
  • What does the social status of the Samaritan woman teach you about your attitudes to others?
  • Jesus left Judea because his success was fuelling rivalry with John the Baptist. What do you learn from this?

Bible notes author

The Revd Jonathan Mead

Jonathan is a Methodist minister. He is based in the London NW Mission circuit where he is minister of Kilburn Methodist Church and a Pioneer starting a new church community with a rule of life. He enjoys keeping fit, reading history and visiting Mediterranean destinations.

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