It is impossible to over emphasise the unlikely nature of the meeting between Jesus and the woman at the well. There was a long history of mutual hatred going back many years between the Jews and the Samaritans. Most Jews on route to Jerusalem would take a detour to avoid passing through Samaria. Jesus crosses this cultural taboo. A Rabbi would never talk to a woman – certainly not alone and not a woman of dubious morals; it would ruin his ministry! But Jesus crashes through this taboo too. Today it would be like a Taliban warlord talking freely to a female US Marine in Afghanistan.
Jesus is incisive. He cuts across red herrings to get right to the heart of the spiritual matter. He is not put off by her inability to read his parables or questions about religious practice. And she gets to hear some of the best parts of the New Testament spoken directly to her ending with the first personal revelation that he is the Messiah.
- What did Jesus mean when he said that he would give her “living water”? (v11 and 13-14)
- Why did Jesus ask her to fetch her husband if he knew she didn’t have one? (v16-18)
- What taboos exist today for us?
- What does it mean to worship the Father in spirit and truth? (v23)
- How would you feel if you were the woman coming to collect water and met an enigmatic Rabbi?
- How does the conversation progress?
May we have the courage to ignore cultural taboos and boldly take the gospel with the power of the Spirit.