“‘You [Jesus] are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?’ (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans).” (John 4:9)
U.S. President Ronald Reagan may best be remembered for his Berlin Wall speech. In 1987, standing near the wall that separated East Berlin from West Berlin, Reagan made this appeal to Russia’s General Secretary: “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.”
Today’s story tells us that Jesus went through Samaria, that he came near the town of Sychar, that he was tired, that he sat down by a famous well, and that a Samaritan woman came to draw water. A huge, centuries-old wall was there too. It was invisible, yet everyone knew it was there — between Jews and Samaritans.
Jesus tore down this wall. When he spoke to the Samaritan woman, she couldn’t believe it: “How can you ask me for a drink?” She wasn’t saying, “How dare you?” but “Why would you reach out to me?”
When Jesus’ disciples returned, they were surprised too! Not just that he was talking to a woman, but to a Samaritan!
Meanwhile, the woman went back to town to tell her neighbors about the wall-breaker: “Come and see a man who told me everything I ever did.” Her neighbors followed her to meet Jesus for themselves. And when they invited Jesus to visit with them, he did! That’s what good neighbors do.
Thank you, Jesus, for showing us how to be neighborly. Give us the love and the courage to break down old walls, make new neighbors, and love them in your name. Amen.