The courtship in John 4, however, is not a normal one. Jesus and the woman do not ‘marry’ literally, but symbolically, restoring the link between Samaria (the northern tribes of Israel) and Judea (the southern tribes of Israel) to bring all of Israel together again. The woman’s calling Jacob ‘our father’ in 4:12 points to their shared ancestry in Jacob/Israel, but Jesus is greater than Jacob and ‘shows the way’ to the Father of all. ― Alicia Myers, Reading John and 1, 2, 3 John: A Literary and Theological Commentary
Last week, we met Nicodemus. Remember him? He’s a theologian and a man with authority. A high-stays man, a man with qualifications, but he doesn’t get it. When Jesus says to him,
Very truly, I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God without being born from above.
Nicodemus takes him literally:
How can anyone be born after having grown old? Can one enter a second time into the mother’s womb and be born?
Today, we meet a woman, who is unnamed. A village woman, a despised woman, a low-status woman, yet she manages to engage far better with Jesus than Nicodemus did.
I also want to say that this wonderful episode reminds us of an ancient love story. We’ll come back to that.
Why was this woman despised?
The Jewish people despised her because she was a Samaritan. The Samaritans lived around what we call the West Bank today. Some do today; there is still a Samaritan community in Israel.
Samaritans followed a form of the Jewish religion. They claimed theirs was the original version of the faith, while the Jewish people rejected their claim. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? It’s a song that has been sung — often way off key — throughout history. People insist that God is on their side, not the other side. Even sophisticated residents of West End may fall for it.