Exodus 17:1-7; John4:5-42

3rd Sunday in Lent

St Barbara’s Church; 19.3.17

Dan Rathbone

Last week Ian spoke from John chapter 3 about the meeting between Jesus and Nicodemus the Pharisee. This man Nicodemus was the ultimate religious insider. He was upper middle class, educated and orthodox in the Jewish faith, an influential religious leader, and morally upright. He recognised something important about Jesus and felt compelled to seek him out to know more. Because of his position, however, and the controversy that surrounded Jesus in the eyes of the religious establishment, he came to Jesus by night.


In contrast, in the very next chapter, Jesus meets with the Samaritan woman, someone from the opposite end of the social and religious spectra. She was a Samaritan and a woman. That is two black marks against her. Women had a much lower status than men and the Samaritans were despised by the Jews because of their intermarriage with other nations, their different and restricted view of the scriptures and the fact that they chose to worship God at Mount Gerazim instead of Jerusalem. In further contrast to Nicodemus, the Samaritan woman was an uneducated nobody and possibly of dubious morality on account of her five husbands and the current live-in relationship. On this occasion, however, it was Jesus who sought her out and the meeting happened in full public view at noon. Their responses to Jesus contrasted: She responded quickly and emotionally; Nicodemus responded slowly and rationally.


The first lesson we can learn here is that Jesus loved both of them. We all fall somewhere between these two types: female-male; educated-uneducated; religious insider or outsider; high or low social position; high moral scruples or lack of them; emotional or rational and so on.


Nobody, not you, not me, is outside of God’s love.


Today, I want us to try to get inside the experience of the Samaritan woman’s encounter with Jesus at the well. In what follows I have adapted a published monologue by Chris Kinsley and Drew Francis. (http://virtualmethodist.blogspot.co.uk/2010/10/woman-of-no-distinction.html)


[Monologue as the woman at the well]


I am a woman of no distinction
of little importance.
I am a women of no reputation
save that which is bad.

You whisper as I pass by and cast judgmental glances,
Though you don’t really take the time to look at me,
Or even get to know me.

For to be known is to be loved,
And to be loved is to be known.


I want someone to look at my face
And not just see two eyes, a nose,
a mouth and two ears;
But to see all that I am, and could be
all my hopes, loves and fears.

But that’s too much to hope for,
to wish for,
or pray for
So I don’t, not anymore.


My soul is like a field in a drought –

Hard and cracked.

That’s what I am about.

Now I keep to myself.
My shame keeps me in my own private hell
The shame that’s brought me here on my own
at midday to this well.

The pain and the shame that keeps me apart from others.

And unexpectedly, there you are, Jesus, alone at the well

exhausted and thirsty

asking for a drink.


To ask for a drink is no big request
but to ask it of me?
A woman unclean, ashamed,
Used and abused
An outcast, a failure
a disappointment, a sinner.

No drink passing from my hands
to your lips could ever be refreshing
Only contaminating and condemning,

as I’m sure you condemn me now


But you don’t.

You whisper and tell me to my face
what all those glances have been about, and
You take the time to really look at me.
But you don’t need to get to know me.
For you know me.

You actually know me;
all of me and everything about me.
Every thought inside and the hair on top of my head;
Every hurt stored up, every hope, every dread.

My past and my future, all I am and could be.
You tell me everything,
you tell me about me!

If this had been spoken by another
it would bring hate and condemnation.
But coming from you it brings love, grace,
mercy, hope and salvation.

I’ve heard of one who is to come
who could save a wretch like me
And here in my presence, you say

I AM He.

To be known is to be loved;
And to be loved is to be known.

And I just met you.
But I love you.
I don’t know you,
but I want to get to.

Let me run back to town.
This is way too much for just me.
There are others: brothers,
sisters, lovers, haters.

The good and the bad, sinners and saints
who should hear what you’ve told me;
who should see what you’ve shown me;
who should taste what you gave me;
who should feel how you forgave me.

For to be known is to be loved;
And to be loved is to be known.
And they all need this, too.
We all do
We need it for our own.


[End of monologue]


I think we all have something in our lives that resonates with this woman’s pain. And as in this story, Jesus, who knows us through and through, is there waiting for us at the epicentre of our pain, shame and loneliness and offering us that same living water, the Holy Spirit who will pour into our parched cracked lives and make us whole.


All we have to do is to be honest and ask Jesus.