Reading Between the Lines

Artist He Qi’s Samaritan Woman at the Well . . .

John 4:5-42The Third Sunday of Lent – for Sunday, March 19, 2017

“Come and see a man who has told me everything I’ve done. Could this man be the Christ?” (John 4:29)

I wonder if she cried?

I wonder if she lied?

For me, the second is easier to answer since the Samaritan woman’s (John 4:5-42) “lie” about Jesus felt more like an exaggeration. When telling her fellow villagers, “Come and see a man who has told me everything I’ve done,” didn’t her enthusiasm stretch the facts?

Everything? Really?

On this third Sunday of Lent, and within the lengthy, meandering thirty-seven verses of John’s Gospel lesson for the lectionary, what did Jesus likely know about her?

  • She was a Samaritan.
  • She was a woman.
  • She came alone, around noon, to the well that supplied her village’s water.
  • She courageously—or foolishly, or brazenly—answered Jesus’ first question and kept conversing with the “enemy.” (After all, Jews and Samaritans were way low on the friendliness scale.)
  • She and Jesus bantered about theology.

My bullet points are obvious information. That Jesus—or any current reader or past local water-gatherer—knew that this person was a Samaritan and a woman and obtaining water at a well isn’t much more impressive than revealing the Statue of Liberty grasps a torch or the Grand Canyon is deep.

Of course, I didn’t list what Jesus said about her husband . . . nor about what he said regarding her prior handful of husbands and that the current fellow in her life wasn’t really her husband. And while Jesus’ rejoinder about her husbands’ tally may be impressive (or not impressive if your take on Jesus is that, as the Son of God, he already knew every detail about every person), was it enough for her to proclaim his all-encompassing knowledge about her?

Well . . . it was for her!

Really? Continue reading →