Women in the Bible

Women in the New Testament

This devotional is written by Kirstine Robb. Kirstine is one of the leaders of St Mary's, currently in year 2 of vicar school.

John 4:1-16

4 Now Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that he was gaining and baptising more disciples than John – 2 although in fact it was not Jesus who baptised, but his disciples. 3 So he left Judea and went back once more to Galilee.
4 Now he had to go through Samaria. 5 So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6 Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon.
7 When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, ‘Will you give me a drink?’ 8 (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)
9 The Samaritan woman said to him, ‘You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?’ (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)
10 Jesus answered her, ‘If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.’
11 ‘Sir,’ the woman said, ‘you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?’
13 Jesus answered, ‘Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.’
15 The woman said to him, ‘Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.’
16 He told her, ‘Go, call your husband and come back.’

Reflection

This story crosses ancient, racial, theological, historical, and gender barriers.

It takes place in ancient Israel. Middle-eastern women travelled to the well in groups for safety, in the early morning, or late evening to avoid the midday sun. The only woman to travel alone, in heat, were ones deemed "bad" by society.

Culturally men would move 20 feet away, to signal to a woman she was safe to approach the well but Jesus stays sat at the edge and as the woman draws close, he asks for a drink.

A very simple statement.

Yet in one sentence, Jesus breaks the social taboos. He ignores the 500-year-old hostility between Jews and Samaritans. He doesn't ignore her but instead asks for something.

Her response speaks of shock; She is acutely aware of culture so points out the gender and cultural differences.

Jesus responds, I can offer you a drink and you will never be thirsty again. She isn't quite willing. She doesn't know this is Jesus, the longed-for Messiah.

Jesus declines her gender, political and historical arguments. He tells her go and get your husband, She confronts him, 'I don't have a husband, you are wrong.' Hebrew law at the time allowed you to be remarried up to three times if your husband had died or committed adultery.

Her problem is she's had five husbands and now is with number six who is not her husband. By her community standards and Hebrew law, she is unclean. Jesus knows all that, he doesn't point it out to expose her but in order to bring her to a place redemption.

Are there areas of life where you feel ashamed?

Take a moment today to sit with Jesus.

Be honest with him and allow him to bring redemption to these areas as shame has no place in the kingdom of God.

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