Today’s Reading: John 4:1-30
Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 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.”
Vulnerability is a loaded word.
It has a lot of connotations and it has a weird reputation of being a weakness. But when I look at Jesus, I see a leader who chose vulnerability in pursuit of connection.
John 4:1-30 is one of my favourite stories in the whole Bible for a lot of reasons. The one I’d love to explore with you today is the example Jesus sets for us about intentionally choosing to be vulnerable with others. This is the story where Jesus meets the Samaritan woman at the well and has an amazingly confusing conversation with her about living water.
To give some context which is super important to this passage, Jesus is at the beginning of His ministry here. He has called the disciples and few miracles have been recorded but it is very much early days. He was in the Judean countryside helping his disciples baptise people, then when the news of His ministry was spreading to the Jewish leaders, He left to go home because Jesus knew that they were going to try and stop Him and it wasn’t time for that yet. The other important piece of context for understanding this passage is that Samaritans and Jews didn’t get along. AT ALL. There was huge racial tension, they each thought the other was politically and religiously wrong and they did not interact in any way with each other.
Verse 7 says that Jesus asked the woman for a drink from the well. This is the King of all creation, asking someone else for a drink of water. Why didn’t He zap a fresh glass into His hand or strike a rock and start a spring? He could have literally snapped His fingers and had a personal rain cloud above him if He wanted. But instead He chose to wait beside the well for this woman to appear and then ask her for a drink.
Because this woman in particular who Jesus spoke with was not a popular woman. She had 6 significant partners and was living with the latest which was disgraceful back then. It was so awful that she had to go to get water from the well at noon – the hottest time in the day because nobody else went at the time. She was unclean, unwanted and completely alone. The fact that Jesus spoke to her is shocking, but the fact that He asked her for help is scandalous. Not only was she an outcast of society, but she was a Samaritan – a racial and political enemy of the Jews. What Jesus does here is absolutely wild.
She was shocked too (v8) because nobody ever spoke to her, which is why this is such a beautifully powerful story. Jesus chose to wait for her to come along so that He could show her that He saw her. He could treat her like a person with worth and value.
But why did He need to wait to drink for that?
Why couldn’t He have gotten a drink and waited there for her knowing she was coming and say “Hey you see that water you’re drinking? I know where you can get living water…” Why didn’t He do it that way? Why did He choose to be vulnerable with her?
I was praying about this in the autumn, and Jesus so clearly spoke to me. He said “I chose to do it this way to show her that she has worth. That I see her. That I wasn’t coming in with an agenda of this is my story and my sermon without building that connection first. She needed to know that she was useful, that she had things to offer even if the world told her she was damaged goods.”
Jesus gave her the opportunity to have a choice. To help or not. To serve or to deny. Serving others in that culture is HUGE. It is the role of a woman to feed and look after the needs of others and so giving her that chance gave her respect. Jesus chose vulnerability in pursuit of connection with this woman. To connect with her in a way maybe she hadn’t ever before with another man – to be given respect and worth and acknowledgement.
Here is the truly scandalous part.
Jesus reveals to her that He is the Messiah. The King that Israel has been waiting for, for thousands of years.
Very rarely in the scriptures did Jesus straight up say: I am the one you have been waiting for. In fact, only a handful of times does He actually do that. And the first time recorded in the bible that Jesus reveals his true identity to – is to a woman. A Samaritan woman. An outcast.
This put Him in an extremely vulnerable place. Remember He was on His way home at this point to avoid too many people finding out about who He was. But He chose to reveal the truth to her in pursuit of connection – because vulnerability requires trust, but it also leads to a deeper trust. A beautiful depth of understanding one another.
My challenge for you today is to follow the example Jesus is setting here. To actually open up in a conversation, to let down your barriers about what is going on in your heart. These groups of people NEVER interacted – they were enemies. The story of the Good Samaritan? Enemies. If Jesus chose to be vulnerable with people who hated His faith group how much more are we called to be vulnerable with people who love us?
Grace and Peace,
A Digital Refresh is a regular series for the staff at Mini-Yo-We.
When we gather together for worship and learn from God’s word we call it “Refresh.” Even though we aren’t at camp we can still gather together to share God’s word through a Digital Refresh.
For more resources check out our summer staff resource page.