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Woman at the Well

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  • dottie zold
    Well friends, I had cause to consider the position I am in regards to the community I am mostly aligned with here in Hollywood: Russian Jew. That is very
    Message 1 of 3 , Jan 11, 2010
      Well friends, I had cause to consider the position I am in regards to the community I am mostly aligned with here in Hollywood: Russian Jew. That is very interesting to me. And out of this came the realization as to how unbelievable it is that I can first hand say that I have seen the Risen Christ. I have seen Christ with my own eyes. And in this community this is really something to say. I do not only say I am a Christian because I believe, I do and have since a child, but I also say it clear and plain because I have also seen. And this brought me to consider the Samaritan, the Woman at the Well, as she is called.
      I cannot believe that I meet Jew after Jew in deep conversations about God and when asked what I am I say I am a Christian. And they look at me and I can say and I do say, 'I have seen Him three times, and so I cannot deny Him'. There are no words to respond. It's just a stop, a full stop. And then a head nod trying to digest what I just said. For one must think how it is that I speak so normally about such a thing as if its a normal occurrance. It is for me.
      But I found myself thinking on this woman at the well. I found myself considering how it was that from her words a firestorm took place across the country. So I went looking to understand that conversation that took place between He and she and encountered a few things below I thought to share. And intereting is that I also, again, have a thought of these women in the bible and where their other incarnations meet.
      I was reading Rick's consideration and it always strikes me to have Lazarus as a singular deed, I just cannot understand how this could be, I just can not understand how one could be spoken of without the other. In any case, here are a few things below.
      All good things,
      Sunday School Lesson: Bible Studies for Life - February 24
      The model
      By Tony Latham
      Focal Passage: John 4:4-10, 13-18, 24-26
      The story of the “woman at the well” is a God-sized story. Its application calls us into God-sized activity with Jesus. The Divine Appointment apparent in this story is available to followers of Jesus. God still leads His disciples to such appointments for the same reason: that the harvest might be gathered (vv. 35-36).
      The unexpected journey (vv. 4-10). The journey Jesus made into Samaria to Jacob’s well was one of Divine necessity (v. 34). Animosity between Jew and Samaritan ran so deep that the preferred travel plan from Jerusalem to Galilee for Jewish people avoided Samaritan territory altogether; but as far as Jesus was concerned, the journey must happen. We also prefer familiar paths to those that may get us into uncomfortable situations. Where are we reluctant to share our witness?
      The unexpected conversation (vv. 7-18). Four unexpected things occurred at Jacob’s well. First, a Samaritan woman was at the well by herself. While the “sixth hour” (NIV) was likely noon, not “six in the evening” (HCSB), the odd thing was that she was by herself. The second unexpected thing was that Jesus spoke to her.. It was not just a gender issue (woman/man) or a matter of prejudice (Samaritan/ Jew). It was also a religious division: If you use the drinking vessel I use, you will become unclean, for I am considered unclean by you Jews. The third unexpected thing was Jesus’ offer of living water after having just asked for a drink of well water. Just as in John 3, Nicodemus had not understood the shift in conversation between the natural world and the spiritual world, this woman also did not understand. Jesus was referring to the living, indwelling, pure Spirit of God available for our lives, but she was not yet ready to understand that dimension of the conversation. The fourth unexpected turn was Jesus’ request that she go, get her husband, and return. She declared that she had no husband. Jesus surprised her with personal information about her that should have been beyond His knowledge. He knew that she had had five husbands and that the man she was living with now was not her husband. Judaism allowed for divorce but a woman who had been divorced two or three times had pretty much reached the limit of society’s patience. Her reputation may be the reason for her isolation at the well. Perhaps she knew that she had exhausted the community’s patience with her; so why not the patience of Jesus? Are there people that we have written off from conversations that seek to bring them to Christ? What are some common reasons why we write them off?
      The unexpected conversion (vv. 24-29). By this point the woman knew Jesus was a prophet. She raised the question of the proper place to worship God, whether on Mt. Gerizim or Mt. Zion? His answer was that worship was not centered on the temple at Jerusalem or the temple site at Gerizim. Those who worshiped God must worship Him in spirit and truth (v. 23). Jesus identified Himself as the Messiah. The unexpected journey and its unexpected conversation issued in an unexpected conversion. We must learn to let the Spirit guide us into conversations in which God’s words break into men’s words and challenge listeners to rethink life itself.



      Embracing Our Place on the Margins

      © Russell Resnik

      This is My servant, whom I uphold,

      My chosen one, in whom I delight.

      I have put My spirit upon him,

      He shall teach the true way to the nations.

      He shall not cry out or shout aloud,

      Or make his voice heard in the streets.

      He shall not break even a bruised reed,

      Or snuff out even a dim wick.

      He shall bring forth the true way. . . .

      And the coastlands shall await his teaching.

      (Isaiah 42:1-4, NJPS; applied to Yeshua in Matthew 12:18-21)


      On a recent Shabbat morning, after the Torah reading, the rabbi opened his d’rash by saying, Judaism is a religion of law. In Judaism, we ask the question, “What does the halacha say I should do?” Christianity is different. It likes to ask, “What would Jesus do?” But

      we already know what Jesus would do—he would keep the halacha!

      The woman at the well, of course, reminds us of a series of similar encounters in the Torah, as Levine notes.

      7 First, in Genesis 24, Abraham sends his unnamed servant back to the ancestral homeland to find a bride for Isaac. The servant arrives at the outskirts of Nahor in the evening, and pauses at the well. He prays that the young woman who responds to his request for a drink by offering to water his camels as well will be the one

      the Lord has chosen, and so it comes to pass. The servant, and through him Isaac, is a marginal figure in this setting, an outsider subject to the kindness of the insiders. But he is a well-stocked outsider, with a whole caravan of gifts to bestow.


      Isaac’s son Jacob returns to the same land and comes upon a well (Gen. 29), as a far more marginalized figure than his father. Unlike Isaac, he has no proxy, but must make the long journey himself. Indeed, he arrives at the well because he is fleeing for his life from the wrath of Esau, and he arrives empty-handed. Isaac, through the servant, can offer abundant gifts as a bride price. Jacob has only his own body and labor to offer. But

      his descendant Moses, in the third well-encounter in Torah (Ex. 2) is even more marginalized. Like Jacob, he is fleeing for his life from the wrath of a powerful figure, and he arrives empty-handed. Jacob, however, has at least returned to the homeland of his mother’s family; Moses does not return to any ancestral homeland. Indeed, even after he reveals himself as a hero and marries his bride, he declares, “I have been a stranger in a

      strange land” (Ex. 2:22, AV).


      The trajectory is clear—the outsider who arrives at the well becomes more and moren marginal in each successive story. In all three stories, however, the outsider reveals himself as a heroic figure as well. At the well, Isaac’s servant shows a hint of his riches to Rebecca (Gen. 24:22). At the well, Jacob rolls away a massive stone to enable Rachel to

      water her flocks (Gen. 29:10). At the well, Moses stands up to defend the seven daughters of Reuel the priest, including Zipporah his bride-to-be, against the abusive shepherds (Ex.2:17). And in each story, after this initial revelation at the well, the protagonist meets the family and wins his bride.


      Yeshua enters this ongoing story by coming to Samaria as an outsider. Just as the Jews marginalized Samaritans, so did Samaritans marginalize Jews,

      8 as the Samaritan woman points out in what seems to be a mocking tone: “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?” (John 4:9). Traditional commentaries tend to miss Yeshua’s marginality here and focus on that of the woman. Thus, Raymond Brown

      summarizes the exchange: Vs. 7.

      Jesus asks the Samaritan for water, violating the social customs of the time. Vs. 8. Woman mocks Jesus for being so in need that he does not observe the proprieties.

      Vs. 9.

      Jesus shows that the real reason for his action is not his inferiority or need, but his superior status. 9

      True, Yeshua does reveal his “superior status” in a sense, just as Abraham’s servant, Jacob, and Moses reveal their superior status through heroic deeds at the well. Like his ancestors, Yeshua performs a heroic deed there, in his case by offering living water to the woman. Like the servant of Abraham, Yeshua bears abundant gifts, speaking of the “gift

      of God” that he has to offer (Jn. 4:10). He then shows his supernatural insight into the woman’s personal life. But the outcome is more nuanced than Brown suggests; it is precisely within his perceived marginality and need that Yeshua is able to reach this woman.. When he asks her to return with her husband, it is not merely to “uncover her evil deeds,”

      10 as Brown says, nor to remind her “of her many disappointments in personal

      relationships in order that she may appreciate the more deep and lasting satisfaction that Jesus brings,”

      11 as F.F. Bruce more kindly suggests. Rather, Yeshua continues to follow the pattern set in Torah in which each hero, after encountering the woman at the well, must meet the folks.

      It is impossible to overlook the contrast between the Samaritan woman with five exhusbands and a current paramour, and the beautiful Rebecca whom the text describes as “a virgin; no man had known her” (Gen. 24:16). Within her questionable situation, however, the Samaritan woman ends up introducing Yeshua not just to her family, but to the entire city. Like the servant of Isaac, Yeshua has abundant gifts to offer. Unlike him,

      he gains not one bride, but a multitude of Samaritans. It is no accident that in John’s narrative the fruitful encounter with the Samaritan

      woman comes right after the more ambiguous encounter with a Jewish man in chapter 3.


      There too Yeshua is a marginal figure, approachable only at night, but the non-marginal Nicodemus seems unable to embrace him as such. As Levine points out, “The unnamed Samaritan woman understands Jesus, while Nicodemus, the elite teacher, fails to get the point, and the unexpected result provides satisfaction to those outside the academy and

      the institutional church,”

      12 a category that would include much of our Messianic Jewish constituency."

      "Hence only by means of love can we give real help for karma to work out in the right way." Rudolf Steiner

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