In John 4, we see Jesus—a Jewish rabbi—at a Samaritan well, speaking to a Samaritan woman around noon. While a first-century reader of this story would instantly recognize the awkwardness of this situation, we easily miss the tension (and meaning) of this story if we’re unaware of the culture.
The Middle East is hot, especially at noon, so women traditionally did the heavy work of drawing water from the well early in the day when it was cooler. This woman working at noon suggests that she is socially blacklisted.
Samaritans and Jews despised each other. Samaritans were half-bloods, a people of Jewish descent who intermarried with surrounding non-Jewish countries. So for Jesus, a Jewish rabbi, to even be in Samaria was culturally unacceptable.
Also, in ancient Middle-Eastern culture, men greatly diminished women. Women were often considered as little more than property. And a man of cultural esteem (a Jewish rabbi) would never address a woman of low status (a socially outcast Samaritan woman).
The tension in this story can teach us two things about the nature of Jesus’ rescue mission: 1) God finds you wherever you are. 2) Even though God knows the secrets you may be hiding, he will find you, love you, and rescue you.
Today, reflect on the love of God that knows no bounds.
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