31 Maple Street
Bristol, Connecticut USA
February 27, 2022
Rev. Kristen J. Kleiman
This Bible passage is filled with lots of titillating details, Five husbands, Jew versus Samaritan, Jesus speaking alone with a woman. And we certainly live in a world that likes to focus on the outrageous and unseemly; however if you focus only on the details, you might miss that this is another story of discipleship. Just as Jesus invited Simon and Andrew, James and John, just as he invited the rich man, Jesus is also inviting the Samaritan woman at the well to come and follow him.
Her story has many similarities to the rich man we heard about two weeks ago. Like him, the woman at the well is also searching for healing, for wholeness. She has had five husbands. Whether she was widowed five times or cast aside five times, there is loss and pain. There is also clearly shame because women usually came to draw water for their households in the cool of the morning, not the heat of the noonday sun, which is what this woman was doing. She was clearly avoiding the other women of her community because of their judgment or her own self-judgment. Either way, this woman was someone who was hurting.
And just as Jesus looked at the rich man with love in his eyes and heart, Jesus looks at this woman with deep love and invites her to give him a drink of water.
This invitation feels very different from the one Jesus gives to Simon and Andrew, James and John. It’s even very different from Jesus’ invitation to the rich man. And that’s because since our lives, our experiences, our situations are all different, Jesus calls different disciples in different ways to come and follow him.
While giving Jesus a drink of water seems easier than selling your possessions and giving the money to the poor, Jesus knows that it will require great courage for the woman at the well. This drink of water was more than a drink of water. It invited the woman to bridge a great divide. It also required the woman to put aside her fear, put aside her fear that Jesus might ridicule her because she was a Samaritan, put aside her fear that he might judge her for her past.
The woman is afraid, afraid of more pain, more judgment, more shame, and yet, like the rich man, she wants more for her life. She doesn’t want to keep feeling this way, living this way, so when Jesus speaks to her of living water, she wants it. If she had this living water, if she was never thirsty again, she would not need to come to the well in the heat of the noon sun. She thinks she can avoid this reminder of her pain and shame.
Jesus doesn’t offer her avoidance though. Jesus offers her healing and grace. Through their interaction, Jesus shares that he knows about her loss. He knows about her pain, and he does not judge her. Jesus invites her to know him, to know God, to come and find new life, to come and find wholeness, to come and see.
Despite her baggage, despite her pain, loss, and fear, when Jesus invites her to lay it all down and follow him, she accepts. It’s not immediate, like with the first disciples. It takes time; it takes conversation; however in time, she accepts Jesus’ love, not as something to be earned, as grace to be received.
And then, the Samaritan woman goes and does as all disciples are called to do – she shares the good news of God’s love as made known in Jesus Christ. Except, she doesn’t leave home to do it. She goes back to her city, back to her community, free from fear of shame and judgment and she tells everyone, everyone, “Come and see! Come and see a man who really knows me. Come and see a man who really knows you. Come and see a man who offers acceptance and grace. Come and see!”
Jesus calls each of us in a different way because Jesus truly knows us. Jesus knows the invitation we need. Jesus knows that sometimes we will be ready to immediately accept the invitation, and other times, it will take time, conversation, discernment before we are ready to say yes to the ministry we are called to. Sometimes, those ministries will call us to travel around the world sharing the good news of Jesus Christ. And sometimes, those ministries will be closer to home, right where we are.
Regardless of how Jesus invites us, regardless of what ministry Jesus calls us to, regardless of the journey, they are all important ministries. They are all worthwhile ministries. They are all needed ministries.
You are important. You are worthwhile. You are needed. And Jesus is inviting you to come and see, to come and follow, sharing God’s love, sharing God’s peace, sharing God’s hope and joy with all the world.