Jesus Christ disturbed the religious leaders of the first century by making claims about his own identity as the Messiah, or as the son of God.
He also offended by breaking the social and religious rules of his day. One such occasion was his encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well. He asks her for a drink of water. She is shocked that he, a Jew, would speak to her, a Samaritan, in public. Jesus then suggests that she should be asking him for living water. She is mystified. He continues to offer her this gift, which he says is a spring of water gushing up to eternal life. She is elated at the prospect of never having to fill buckets again, but does not understand the depth of his words.
The story continues with Jesus asking her to bring her husband to the well. This is a trick question, because she has no husband, but is living with someone, having had five husbands before him. She is shocked that he knows this information about her and even more surprised that knowing her history, Jesus did not reject her. Jesus announces to her that he is the Messiah.
Jesus' disciples return from the city and are astonished to see him speaking with this woman. She leaves and tells the people in the city about Jesus. The disciples try to get Jesus to eat, but he claims that doing the will of God is food to him. He reminds them to go harvest fruit for eternal life, insisting that they can reap from what others have sown.
Many Samaritans in that city believed because of the testimony of a marginalized woman, who was blessed by Jesus' attentive care. The story goes on to tell us that Jesus stayed for a couple of days with the Samaritans, and that many more believed. In the end, they believed that Jesus is the savior of the world, not just because of her testimony but because they too had been transformed by their encounter with Christ.
Who are you in the story? Are you like the woman at the well, who feels worthless, who assumes that if Christ or his church really knew you, they would turn away from you? Are you among the disciples who find Jesus' choice of friends uncomfortable? Are you, like they, wondering how doing the will of God could be as nourishing as this delicious food you just bought? Are you among the religious leaders who find Jesus' disregard for their customs and rules to be offensive or threatening? Are you like Jesus, offering living water to those who are rejected by others?
In this season of Lent, the 40 days (excluding Sundays) prior to Easter, Christians are called to consider whether we are following Christ. So I ask you, are you offering lasting gifts to those whom the world ignores? Are you engaging in meaningful conversation with inappropriate people? Are you being nourished by doing the will of God, or are you filling your belly and your soul with food and drink that provides only partial satisfaction?
Elizabeth M. Deibert, Pastor for Peace Presbyterian Church, 12705 State Road 64, Lakewood Ranch