Fun with the Woman at the Well (John Frye)

To start this New Year, we’re going to have a little fun with the “Woman at the Well” story from John 4. I want to present Jesus in some contemporary media images.  Today Jesus is like Oprah.

Jesus sat down on the edge of Jacob’s Well near Sychar and said, “Welcome, friends! Today’s show will feature a Samaritan woman whose story you just have to hear. Her’s is a story of heartbreak and shame, of isolation and pending hopelessness. I’ve invited her to come and tell us some of her story. Just a few glimpses into her life will help us all, I’m sure. I know you’ll be kind. So, please, give it up for ‘the Samaritan womaaaaan!’” [wild applause as Jesus stands and hugs the woman as she enters and sits on the edge of the well]

Jesus (in a serious, affirming tone): Now, darling, don’t be nervous. We all love you here. I see you fidgeting. There’s just no need to wring your hands. Just tell us what you think we should know. Relax, honey.

Woman: Ah, OK. Well, this was such a surprise. I usually come to the well when no one is here. Seeing you, a Jew and a man, also, and all your friends, I just…just didn’t think I could do this.

Jesus: Now, now, darling, you stop that negative talk. See. You are here and you are brave. So brave. Isn’t she brave, everyone?  [applause]

Jesus: See, the audience knows you’re brave.

Woman: Oh, you all are so kind. But I was of the impression that you hated me. All Jews hate Samaritans. That’s how I grew up. [Tears well up in her eyes.] I’ve lived my life being hated by Jews and shunned by my own people.

Jesus: That ain’t right. That just ain’t right! You tell me who! I wanna know who would treat you like that. I may be a Jew and a man, but I love everybody. I only shun the shunners, dear. I am with you and for you, y’hear?

Woman: You are so kind, Jesus. I mean to meet you here and have you accept me. Well, it’s just all so new and feels…so…crazy.

Jesus: You go on, honey, ’cause it is crazy. Crazy love for all women who’ve been shunned by ‘the man.’ You know what I’m talkin’ ’bout?

Woman: I sure do. I know it in my mind and I feel it in my very body. The atmosphere of shame hangs on me like dark, rainy clouds. I’ve been dumped by five low-down men, and the man I’m with now…well, we ain’t married.

Jesus: I hear ya. Men. [shakes his head]

Woman: But, hey, it was women, too. I mean snooty women in the village who kept on giving me the ‘stink eye’ all the time. That’s why I come out here at noon, when it’s hot. To avoid their gossiping tongues

Jesus [to camera]: Mmmmmm, gossiping tongues…I just don’t know what you mean, hmmmmmmm. We’ll be right back and hear more from the Samaritan woman. [commercial break]

Jesus: We’re talking with the Samaritan woman today. Her’s is a story of rejection and loss. [turns to woman] Let me ask, if I may, what keeps you going? I mean, others have broken under much less weight of the shame and isolation that you feel. But, look at you, you’re here. Tell us…

Woman: What keeps me going? Well, one thing that doesn’t is all the wrangling about worship–Where to do it? How to do it? Who’s got the truth? Y’know what I’m saying?

Jesus: [waves his hand like batting something away] Don’t get me going now. You don’t want me to get going about worship. All I can tell you is my Father is seeking worshippers right this minute. I mean right this minute, y’all.

Woman: That is my passion…to worship God. [she cries]

Jesus: Now, now. You can be a true worshiper in Spirit and in truth. Can’t she, peo-Pull!

Woman [looks shocked]: Who says?

Jesus: I do. I say.

Woman: I am waiting on my hero to come. When the Messiah comes, he’s gonna make everything right. I just know it.

Jesus: I am your hero; the wind beneath your winds. [woman cries…audience applauds]

Jesus: [looking into camera] Everyone today gets a gorgeous jar made in Sychar…a beautiful water pot hand-crafted in the ancient Samaritan way. Good bye, everybody. [wild applause]

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than forty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.


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