John 4:1- 10
Jesus realized that the Pharisees were keeping count of the baptisms that he and John performed (although his disciples, not Jesus, did the actual baptizing). They had posted the score that Jesus was ahead, turning him and John into rivals in the eyes of the people. So Jesus left the Judean countryside and went back to Galilee.
To get there, he had to pass through Samaria. He came into Sychar, a Samaritan village that bordered the field Jacob had given his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was still there. Jesus, worn out by the trip, sat down at the well. It was noon.
A woman, a Samaritan, came to draw water. Jesus said, “Would you give me a drink of water?” (His disciples had gone to the village to buy food for lunch.)
The Samaritan woman, taken aback, asked, “How come you, a Jew, are asking me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?” (Jews in those days wouldn’t be caught dead talking to Samaritans.)
Jesus answered, “If you knew the generosity of God and who I am, you would be asking me for a drink, and I would give you fresh, living water.”
Jesus and the Samaritan woman were bound by competing religious habits that should have prevented them from “having anything to do” with one another. But both of them laid those habits aside for the sake of a conversation that changed a life two millennia ago and has changed millions of lives ever since.
You and I are bound by unfortunate habits that prevent us from “having anything to do” with the dozens of people we encounter every day. We walk past them on sidewalks, get plastic or paper from them, we hand them our cards and we ask them for something to drink. But we rarely or, really, never open up a conversation with them.
Yet thousands of people are learning to lay aside the habits of isolation that close off conversations before they begin. You can join them.
When you ask a surprising question that is off the isolating habit, doors are opened and beauty stands on the other side.
You ask your waiter if he has worked here long and learn that he is an aspiring photographer trying to make ends meet. You ask the person stopped at the light, “Tell me about your shoes,” and learn that she walks 20 blocks to work and back every day. You meet a kindergarten teacher exhausted by the demands of 20 beautiful and unstoppable children who is waiting tables to buy school supplies for her classroom. You meet a man who has been staring at numbers on a computer screen all day and hasn’t talked to a human being for a week.
Jesus offered a lovely, if complicated, grace to a woman at Jacob’s well a long time ago and it made all the difference. You can be like Jesus as you lay aside the habit of isolation and ask a good question of the person in front of you today.