Week Two of 42 Days through Good News according to John

Spiritual Practice of the Week: Prayer
In addition to the prayer time in the Devotional, try using Breath Prayer this week as a way to connect with God throughout the day. Ask God to give you a breath prayer… a short sentence you can pray with one exhale and one inhale. For example, exhale, “I release __________.” Inhale, “Fill me with your goodness.”  You can also inhale a name for God (Father, Lord, Jesus, Holy One, Kind Shepherd, etc.) and exhale a specific desire or need. For example, “God of Comfort, be near me today.” Practice the same prayer throughout the week or a new one each day.

Each time your group or family gathers for the Devotional Guide this week, try incorporating prayer into your time. You might pray for each other, a friend, or multiple people depending on the ages and attention spans of your children. Try using the model “Sorry. Thank you. Please.” one day this week: start by apologizing for anything that you feel bad about (to the person or to Jesus); then thank Jesus for something good that happened; finally, pray that Jesus would act in a situation you’re concerned about. At the end of the week, think about what you liked and what you might not have liked about this particular spiritual practice. Share your thoughts with each other.

 John 4:1–27—Jesus Talks with Samaritan Woman

1 Jesus knew the Pharisees had heard that he was baptizing and making more disciples than John 2 (though Jesus himself didn’t baptize them—his disciples did). 3 So he left Judea and returned to Galilee.
4 He had to go through Samaria on the way. 5 Eventually he came to the Samaritan village of Sychar, near the field that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. 6 Jacob’s well was there; and Jesus, tired from the long walk, sat wearily beside the well about noontime. 7 Soon a Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Please give me a drink.” 8 He was alone at the time because his disciples had gone into the village to buy some food.
9 The woman was surprised, for Jews refuse to have anything to do with Samaritans. She said to Jesus, “You are a Jew, and I am a Samaritan woman. Why are you asking me for a drink?”
10 Jesus replied, “If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.”
11 “But sir, you don’t have a rope or a bucket,” she said, “and this well is very deep. Where would you get this living water? 12 And besides, do you think you’re greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us this well? How can you offer better water than he and his sons and his animals enjoyed?”
13 Jesus replied, “Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. 14 But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.”
15 “Please, sir,” the woman said, “give me this water! Then I’ll never be thirsty again, and I won’t have to come here to get water.”
16 “Go and get your husband,” Jesus told her.
17 “I don’t have a husband,” the woman replied.
Jesus said, “You’re right! You don’t have a husband—18 for you have had five husbands, and you aren’t even married to the man you’re living with now. You certainly spoke the truth!”
19 “Sir,” the woman said, “you must be a prophet. 20 So tell me, why is it that you Jews insist that Jerusalem is the only place of worship, while we Samaritans claim it is here at Mount Gerizim, where our ancestors worshiped?”
21 Jesus replied, “Believe me, dear woman, the time is coming when it will no longer matter whether you worship the Father on this mountain or in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans know very little about the one you worship, while we Jews know all about him, for salvation comes through the Jews. 23 But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. 24 For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.”
25 The woman said, “I know the Messiah is coming—the one who is called Christ. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”
26 Then Jesus told her, “I Am the Messiah!”
27 Just then his disciples came back. They were shocked to find him talking to a woman, but none of them had the nerve to ask, “What do you want with her?” or “Why are you talking to her?”

Points of Interest

  • ‘though Jesus himself didn’t baptize them—his disciples did’—I did wonder yesterday why Jesus would be baptizing people in water, when John the Baptist had very clearly talked about water baptism as an inferior model that would be replaced with Jesus’ Spirit baptism (1:26,27,33). Well, apparently Jesus isn’t baptizing in water; only his disciples are. Thus far, it’s not so much that John the Baptist has been replaced as that he has been given reinforcements. Now, John the Baptist has the help of Jesus’ disciples in preparing the people for the new baptism Jesus is bringing.
  •  ‘He had to go through Samaria’—it’s about as easy to get to Galilee from Judea without passing through Samaria as it is to get to San Clemente from San Diego without going through Camp Pendleton. This is a huge bummer to the Jews, because they hold an extreme dislike for the Samaritans. The Jews and the Samaritans had at one point been one nation, called Israel. In a civil war about a thousand years earlier, they broke off from one another; and they’d been feuding ever since then. The Jews hate the Samaritans in the way you can only hate someone who’s a lot like you in many ways, but just enough different from you that it galls you to no end. Basically, the Samaritans are that cousin the Jews just can’t stand.
  • ‘The woman was surprised’—apparently, the Jews would do their best to hurry through Samaria without having to actually interact with any Samaritans. Jesus, however, goes out of his way to make conversation.
  • ‘you would ask me, and I would give you living water’—Jesus isn’t empty-handed. In exchange for water from the well, he would give her water that could quench her soul’s thirst.
  •  ‘Go and get your husband’—this seems to come out of the blue. I wonder if Jesus is just trying to let her know that he’s not hitting on her—the first century, well-side equivalent of dropping a little side mention of your girlfriend. Or perhaps he’s bringing it up because it’s something she is ashamed of. He brings it up just to let her know that it doesn’t matter to him: ‘Yes, I know you’ve had five husbands, and you’re currently shacking up with another guy. Nevertheless; Jesus’ offer of living water stands.’

Taking It Home

  • For you: The woman at the well is not the kind of person Jesus would be expected to pay much attention to. But he does, and the conversation goes in an amazing direction. Take a moment to ask Jesus if there is an unlikely person he would like to bring to your attention. Ask God for an opportunity to talk to them, and pray that your conversation would bring something unexpected and good into that person’s day.
  • For your 6: Jesus’ decision to initiate a conversation with the woman is as shocking to her as it is to his disciples (though for different reasons). As surprised as she is by the conversation itself, you can imagine that she’s all the more surprised that it goes so well. Jesus offers her encouraging words, and a remarkable offer. Ask Jesus to do the same for your 6. Pray that he would take them by surprise. Pray he would show up with good news and a good offer for whatever they need.
  • For our church: Five marriages in first century Palestine isn’t exactly the moral badge of honor. Jesus seems both fully aware of the woman’s past and not at all bothered by it. It seems as if his hope for her far outweighs whatever challenges she has faced. Ask Jesus to give our church the same type of wholehearted, overabundant hope. Spend time thinking of the best case scenarios for all the people in our church and for our church as a whole. Then try asking Jesus for those things and thanking him for all the things that he is already doing.