John 4:5-42 (3rd Sunday in Lent) – March 12, 2023

If I’m honest with you, I’m a little fearful of writing on these next few weeks. The Samaritan woman at the well, the man born blind, the raising of Lazarus. There are so many commentaries on each of these already (especially this week’s text which has a received lot of commentary in the last decade). There have been writings on the complicated and visceral tensions between Samaritans and Jews.[1] Writings on the sexual/romantic/betrothal tension of a man coming to a woman at Jacob’s well.[2] There are many older derogatory commentaries that focus on the sexual promiscuity of the woman and demonize her because of her “five marriages” (of which she would have likely had little agency).[3] There are commentaries that lift this up as the first “I am” statement in the Gospel of John (“I am he, the one who is speaking to you”) and this first revelation coming to a Samaritan. There are commentaries that rightly lift her up as the first evangelist of the faith.[4] With 37 verses, there is so much ground that can be covered in our preaching. All this to say, I am not going to try to be the smartest one in the room on this one. There are so many great voices who have already done so much of that work (some of whom are in the footnotes). So, rather than try to compile all these different thoughts into one long synopsis commentary (which would probably lead to just retelling the whole Gospel), I want to think about her feelings from the narrative? As human beings and disciples, how can we resonate with the woman’s experience?

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