why her?

The next retreat session could be on the second part of the woman at the well story, John 4.16-30. I think I'd like this session to be focused more on exegesis, understanding what is happening in this story between Jesus and the Samaritan woman.

Jesus said to her, "Go, call your husband, and come here." The woman answered him, "I have no husband." Jesus said to her, "You are right in saying, 'I have no husband'; for you have had five husbands, and he whom you now have is not your husband; this you said truly."

Jesus makes a point of mentioning her husbands. Or rather, bringing up her husband problem, something she doesn't seem eager to discuss.


I think he wanted to show her that he knew her, and didn't reject her because of her problems. It seems Jesus even went out of his way to engage this woman, approaching her though she was a Samaritan. And he revealed himself to her: "I who speak to you am he"—the messiah. So she was chosen to announce him to the town.

Why do you think Jesus chooses this woman?

Because she knows the people of the town, and they know her. And maybe because she thirsts for Jesus. She brings up the messiah in their discussion, and gets very excited when he reveals himself. She believes what he tells her. Perhaps her husband problems have been a symptom of her thirst for a savior, a seeking for satisfaction that other men cannot give her. She also has an enthusiasm that is infectious:

The woman left her water jar, and went away into the city, and said to the people, "Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?" They went out of the city and were coming to him.

This woman who had perhaps been looked down upon in this town, became the center of attention, the one bringing people to Jesus. They may not have expected much good from her, but suddenly she was the one offering them the highest good.

Remember Jesus' promise that his gift would "become in you a spring of water welling up." Can we see this happening in the woman?

I'd like to conclude this session by encouraging each person to try to see themselves as we see the Samaritan woman in this story. The problems we have that we'd rather not discuss but God already knows about. The potential in us that God could bring to life. The feeling of joy and energy pouring out of us like a spring of water. I'm not sure how best to do this. It may be better to let people think about this quietly rather than discussing it in a group...