While the disciples pick up lunch, Jesus waits for them at the town well. When a Samaritan woman shows up to draw water, he asks her for a drink. It doesn’t matter what amount he needs—Jesus isn’t getting a drop of water without an interrogation. The history between the Jews and Samaritans is not good, and this woman is well-versed in their story of “us versus them.” That keeps her from seeing who Jesus is right away. If she did know who Jesus was, their conversation would have gone differently.
We understand her initial reticence with this stranger. We’re well-versed in “us versus them” stories too. We know what it means to not be on speaking terms with certain people or groups. We know they exist, but don’t care to know anything else. Our divisions go way back, and we often believe that this is just the way it is. Lines once crossed mean there is no returning to the way things were. No matter how much time passes, we will not be moved. We agree to keep our distance; we know who does not speak to whom.
But Jesus chooses to cross those lines. In this case, he does so in order to offer the Samaritan woman something she needs: living water that requires no bucket, that will make her life new. This water washes away that line in the sand between them that she has carefully pointed out. Their differences become water under the bridge, now that they are on speaking terms.
Why do I hold grudges against certain groups of people? What do I miss out on due to cultural conflict?
God, help me to see the person right in front me. Train my eyes to look past our shared history of rivalry to find the blessing available in the present moment. Amen.