John Alan Turner

Writer, Theologian, Consultant, Speaker, Teacher

Jesus on Both Sides of the Tracks

The only thing more conspicuous than a woman going to get water from a well at high noon would be a Jewish rabbi actually talking to a Samaritan woman who had been married several times and was currently shacked up with a guy. That’s exactly what we find in John 4, and it gets even stranger! Jesus asks her for a drink, but she notices he doesn’t have anything to drink with — no cup, no bucket, nothing. Does he intend to drink from her water jar? Doesn’t he know how gross that is?! She’s a Samaritan. She’s a woman. She’s living in sin. She’s practically wearing a scarlet “A” on her chest. You couldn’t get any further “outside” for a typical Jewish rabbi.

Ah, but Jesus is far from typical.

The story of the Samaritan woman at the well is remarkable on its own merits. But read alongside the previous chapter — the bit where Jesus has his encounter with Nicodemus — it’s earth-shattering. Here’s a Messiah who comes to the upper-uppers and the lower-lowers, the high and mighty as well as the down and out, in the penthouse and in the trailer park.

Men and women, wealthy and poor, moral and immoral, proud and ashamed — no matter where you’ve been or what you’ve been up to -- Jesus is comfortable on both sides of the tracks.