One on One with Jesus: the Samaritan Woman

Sunday’s meditation will be based on John 4: 1-30, 39-42, Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan Woman. We’ll experience that encounter in a different way as three voices present this scripture, the longest conversation that Jesus has in the Gospel accounts. In the New Interpreter’s Bible Commentary, Professor Gail O’Day offers these thoughts on the passage:

“The Samaritan woman is never judged as a sinner. On the contrary, she is portrayed as a model of growing faith. As [the story] unfolds, the reader sees the woman’s faith grow as she comes to entertain the possibility that Jesus might be the Messiah. Of even greater significance, however, the woman is portrayed as a witness. She invited her fellow townspeople to come and see Jesus. The Samaritan woman’s successful evangelization of her town belies the myth of the privileged position of men as witnesses and disciples. Because of her, the number of people who believe in Jesus grows. Jesus treats her as a serious conversation partner, the first person in the Gospel to whom he makes a bold statement of self-revelation.”

The temptation is to focus only on the “negatives” in the Samaritan Woman’s life according to the culture of the times: she’s from a group of people that religious folks considered to be outcasts; she is, well, a woman; and she has what sounds like an unusual marital history (for which she, and not the men involved, would bear the burden) and last of all, she doesn’t have a name….she is forever The Samaritan Woman. To focus on the negatives is to miss the point that Professor O’Day makes: she is a witness, the first person in the Gospel to whom Jesus makes a bold statement of self-revelation. The. First. Person.

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