27 Mar 2011

Lenten Reflections (No. 11) - The Samaritan Woman

Samaritan Woman at the Well, by He Qi, China
The Samaritan woman’s story is traditionally referred to as the story of the Samaritan woman at the well or the woman at the well.  It is important to think of this story as the Samaritan woman’s story because this title places her at the centre of the story.  It emphasises how she interacted with Jesus and ultimately chose to become a disciple and spread the message of Jesus.  Moreover, this title encourages Christians today to engage with the text more and parallel their lives with that of the Samaritan woman as she became a disciple of Jesus.

In the history of theology and spirituality to date, the significance of the Samaritan woman’s story has largely been misinterpreted by many commentators.   She has been referred to as ignorant, someone who should be pitied, a vile prostitute, and sassy.  These interpretations of the woman at the well are very limited and do not allow the reader the opportunity to understand the richness of this story.  The Samaritan woman listened to Jesus’ self-revelation of being the Messiah and became a disciple of Jesus.  This story is a valuable model which can provide hope for the contemporary ministry of Christians, for both women and men in the Church today.

The Samaritan woman’s story has always held a personal interest for me as there is so much to discover about the Samaritan woman, through research and personal reflection.  I find myself returning to this specific story again and again.  I can see parallels between my own life and the life of the Samaritan woman, reflected in the struggles which the woman endured, firstly by being a woman, and secondly by leaving her old life behind after Jesus revealed Himself as the Messiah. 

The Samaritan woman’s story offers hope for Christians today in their ministry in the Church.  Not much will be gleaned from the Samaritan woman’s story if the story is only read at a surface level.  Instead the story has to be made relevant to the person’s life for them to find a connection with the story.  I contend that the Samaritan woman’s story has a lot to offer Christians in the approaches to their spirituality and ministry in the Church.

Just as the Samaritan woman left her water jar behind in order to become a disciple of Jesus, it is time for us to follow in her footsteps, leave our water jars behind and become disciples of Jesus. 


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