But [Jesus] had to go through Samaria. So he came to a Samaritan city called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired out by his journey, was sitting by the well. It was about noon.
A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” (His disciples had gone to the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?” (Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans.)
Jesus crosses a literal territorial boundary (Judaea/Samaria) and then crosses soci0-cultural boundaries (male/female, Jew/Samaritan). Jesus unexpectedly (from the woman’s perspective) takes on the role of the immigrant/stranger in need of hospitality and welcome. Jesus frequently crossed social lines, and was roundly criticized for it. “He welcomes sinners, and even eats with them.” (Luke 15:2)
While the Teachers of the Law were like border patrol agents determining who was “legal” and who was “illegal”, Jesus joined those who were deemed “illegal” and showed solidarity with them. Jesus blurred the lines between insider and outsider by blurring his own identity in relationship to those on the outside. (See Philippians 2:5ff). It is within this new place without boundaries that grace is extended and received.
Questions for Reflection
Even if we choose to cross a socio-cultural boundary, we often maintain the prevailing power dynamics–refusing to become vulnerable. How does Jesus’ actions challenge your relationship to “strangers”?
Are you more likely to act as the “Border Patrol” determining who is “legal” or as Jesus who doesn’t seem to care about status? What pulls you toward one or the other?