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Daily Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Tuesday, January 25, 2022  

Today’s Scripture Reading  |  John 4:27–42

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. Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, “Rabbi, eat something.” But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” So the disciples said to one another, “Surely no one has brought him something to eat?” Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to complete his work. Do you not say, ‘Four months more, then comes the harvest’? But I tell you, look around you, and see how the fields are ripe for harvesting. The reaper is already receiving wages and is gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.” Many Samaritans from that city believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I have ever done.” So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them; and he stayed there two days. And many more believed because of his word. They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the Savior of the world.” (NRSV)

This is an odd story. Yes, quite odd. We launch into the story midstream, with a woman, with whom Jesus has spoken, tearing away from the well where she has encountered Jesus, racing off to tell anyone who would listen about him. She seems to be someplace between astonished and freaked out, because she says he told her everything she had done.

Any of us who know the backstory here know that the woman had done a lot! She had played coy with Jesus about being married, well, a couple of times, and Jesus blew her mind by stating just how many more husbands she had. And it didn’t stop there. The story spilled out more and more until she must have put her hand up to hold back the dam that was about to break and wash her downstream. About that moment, she must have been so overcome that she could not contain herself, and she took off for the city to bear witness—to testify to others about the one who knew every detail of her life.

But this is where it gets odd. She races off; she lets anyone know who will listen that she maybe, might have, could have encountered the Messiah. Enter the Samaritans who find the woman’s story convincing. And they seem so taken with Jesus that they have him stay with them. And he does. Do you know how odd that is? Here is Jesus speaking with a Samaritan woman but then being the guest of Samaritans. And in the end the secondhand witness of the woman is subsumed into a firsthand encounter with the living Christ.

Yes, it is odd. Yes, the story winds up with outsider believers. But it all began when a man (Jesus) defied the social strictures of gender, race, and culture and spoke with a woman, and at that moment their encounter ripped apart social conventions and brought many to a face-to-face encounter.

I’d say watch out if you are reading this, because you might just find yourself in such an odd moment with the one who can tell you everything you’ve done, and you might also just find yourself dropping your water jug—your cell phone, your lunch bag, your Ventra card—and tearing off to let anyone know who will listen about this one, Jesus.

Come to us, Jesus, face-to-face. Find us this day with your knowing vision, your penetrating glance. And give us the bold passion to share the beloved joy of the encounter with you, O Christ, with you. Amen.

Written by Lucy Forster-Smith, Senior Associate Pastor for Leadership Development and Adult Education

Reflection and prayer © Fourth Presbyterian Church

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