Blogging the Bible 287 – John 4 – The woman at the well

In the story of Jesus meeting the Samaritan woman there are lots of things we could pick up. 

Jesus promises living water, and we begin to get a glimpse of how John will show us the work of the Holy Spirit.

Jesus speaks of the nature of true worship – defined not by where it is offered (the heart of a Jew-Samaritan argument) but by being offered in spirit, from a true heart.

There’s the very fact that Jesus speaks freely with a Samaritan woman – someone no respectable rabbi would have had time for, especially given her marital status and history. But Jesus speaks to her as a person – and her words to others of what he has said to her bring many to faith.

There’s more. But there’s one detail that always strikes me. We don’t actually know why this woman has had five husbands and is now living with someone else. She may have been widowed, though the fact that this isn’t mentioned suggests that she may have been divorced repeatedly. Either way, there was clearly something wrong, and pain at the heart of her life where there should have been loving relationship.

When Jesus gets close to this in 4:16-21, the woman tries to change the subject from her personal life to doctrine. It’s a reasonable question, and one of great importance at the time. But I think she’s more interested in avoiding a question than she is in giving an answer about something so personal.

I love theological study and debate. I enjoy talking about the details of belief, Bible and prayer. But I do know that it can be a distraction from the ‘real work’ of letting God touch and change our hearts and lives.

Am I ever inclined to try to change the subject when God gets too close to where it hurts?


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