26 June 2012

‘Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again’

Christ with the Samaritan woman at the well … a window in Saint Mary’s Church, Saffron Walden (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2012)

Patrick Comerford
The USPG conference in High Leigh opened this morning with the Eucharist according to the rite of the Church of the Province of the West Indies, celebrated at 7.30 by the Revd Dr Ian Rock, Principal of Codrington College, Barbados.

After breakfast, we had a Bible study with the Right Revd Jacob Ayeebo, Bishop of Tamale (Ghana), who introduced the story of the Samaritan woman at the well. This passage continued the “Face-to-Face” theme of the conference, but also led to some further conversations about the proposed new branding for USPG:
every person
every community
a full life

John 4: 1-30

Now when Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard, ‘Jesus is making and baptising more disciples than John’ – although it was not Jesus himself but his disciples who baptised – he left Judea and started back to Galilee. But he had to go through Samaria. So he came to a Samaritan city called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired out by his journey, was sitting by the well. It was about noon.

A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, ‘Give me a drink’. (His disciples had gone to the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, ‘How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?’ (Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, ‘If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, “Give me a drink”, you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.’ The woman said to him, ‘Sir, you have no bucket, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us the well, and with his sons and his flocks drank from it?’ Jesus said to her, ‘Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.’ The woman said to him, ‘Sir, give me this water, so that I may never be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.’

Jesus said to her, ‘Go, call your husband, and come back.’ The woman answered him, ‘I have no husband.’ Jesus said to her, ‘You are right in saying, “I have no husband”; for you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you have said is true!’ The woman said to him, ‘Sir, I see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshipped on this mountain, but you say that the place where people must worship is in Jerusalem.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.’ The woman said to him, ‘I know that Messiah is coming’ (who is called Christ). ‘When he comes, he will proclaim all things to us.’ Jesus said to her, ‘I am he, the one who is speaking to you.’

Just then his disciples came. They were astonished that he was speaking with a woman, but no one said, ‘What do you want?’ or, ‘Why are you speaking with her?’ Then the woman left her water-jar and went back to the city. She said to the people, ‘Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done! He cannot be the Messiah, can he?’ They left the city and were on their way to him.

“Where do you get that living water?” ... walking by the lake at High Leigh this morning (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2012)

Questions to discuss

We were asked to discuss the following questions:

Why was it that Jesus had to pass through Samaria? What social boundaries and biases did Jesus overcome in his encounter – face to face with the woman?

Compare and contrast the type of water that the woman is thinking of (verses 11, 15) and the type of water that Jesus is talking about (verses 11-15)?

What does Jesus mean by living water?

How can Jesus’ “Living Water” satisfy our needs and why do some choose to drink from other wells?

If we ran into Jesus at the well, what would he confront us about?

How is Jesus’ statement in verse 16 a turning point in the conversation?

What did Jesus mean by the statement ‘You have had five husbands and he who is with you now is not your husband?

What does it mean that she recognised him as a prophet (verses 19-25)?

How does the text help and encourage us to pray?

What are the key lessons in this encounter?

In this face-to-face encounter, is there any promise for us to claim?

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