“A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.)” (John 4:7–9, ESV)
Something rather strange takes place at the well where Jesus has been resting. It was not typical for a woman to draw water at that time of day and it was especially uncommon for her to come alone. Initially, we are not told much about this woman except that she is from Samaria. Jesus was tired and thirsty, and although it may have been a bit presumptuous, it does not seem terribly unreasonable for him to request a drink of water. The disciples had gone into town to buy some food. It was customary for disciples to make provision for their Rabbi to eat. Suddenly the encounter takes an antagonistic tone if not hostile. This woman rebukes Jesus for requesting water. Why? John tells us that Jews and Samaritans "have no dealings" with each other.
Racism, prejudice, and pride raise invisible barriers that can seem impossible to cross. John's statement about Jews and Samaritans is somewhat understated. The Jews and the Samaritans hated one another. This encounter reminds us just how powerful barriers can be in society and points to the sad reality of how much one can be biased toward another human being with whom they have no personal relationship. We live in times that are fraught with examples of the deep divide that exists in our country. I do not want to oversimplify the issues or point fingers; I want to start conversations. The situation was that this was a thirsty man who needed refreshment and a woman equipped with everything necessary to remedy this trouble with very little cost or effort. Instead, contempt was fostered by cultural demands and expectations. Every follower of Jesus bears a responsibility to fight racism and injustice. Every follower of Jesus is obligated to serve their fellow man. Today, reach out to someone that you do not know. Take a risk, cross a barrier, and love your neighbor.