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Reform Magazine | November 27, 2020

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Chapter and verse: John 4:4-26

Chapter and verse: John 4:4-26

Sonia Soans explores Jesus’ surprising attitude to the Samaritan woman

For Women’s History Month (March), we remembered women who changed the world. As March also falls within the Christian season of Lent, I can’t help but see parallels between the two. Both are times for reflection. While Women’s History Month has a celebratory tone, there is also a call to transformation.

In this Bible passage, we initially see Jesus chastising the Samaritan woman: ‘Jesus said to her: “You are right in saying ‘I have no husband,’ for you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you have said is true!”’ This may seem like a dismissal. Yet, something extraordinary happens in this encounter. From what seems like a dismissal, the conversation takes a turn. Jesus reveals that he is the Messiah.

It must have been very surprising for the woman to encounter Jesus that day, and to learn who he was. For us readers, the text is equally surprising too: we expect the woman to be rebuked but Jesus has other plans.

When Jesus encounters women, he doesn’t dismiss them on grounds of their gender. He speaks to them, encourages their gifts and defends them. In this passage, Jesus speaks to the Samaritan woman, who is described as an outcast. Her personal life is seen as less than desirable, yet Jesus does not hesitate to speak to her and reveal who he is to her. Our modern eyes may not recognise the nuances of this Bible passage but they do recognise its essence: our Lord does not discriminate…

Sonia Soans is a lecturer in psychology, an editor and an artist

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This is an extract from an article that was published in the April 2020 edition of Reform

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