4:6 Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired out by his journey, was sitting by the well. It was about noon. 7 A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” 8 (His disciples had gone to the city to buy food.)  9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?” (Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans.)

By going through Samaria Jesus was crossing boundaries and disregarding social taboos. To make matters worse, when Jesus entered Samaritan territory, he approached a Samaritan woman who was apparently alone and asked her for a drink.

The woman is shocked. She replies with a bold question, reminding Jesus of the cultural observances he is transgressing. She reminds Jesus that, not only is she a Samaritan, she is also “a woman of Samaria”. On two counts, Jesus should have had nothing to do with her.

Jesus is demonstrating in the most dramatic fashion that he has no interest in ethnic, ritual, or gender divisions, distinctions, regulations, or rigid religious practices. He is not bound by convention or social mores. He refuses to be controlled or driven by external forces.

Jesus’ cavalier attitude towards social distinctions may have been a surprise to the Samaritan woman; it should not surprise the reader of John’s Gospel. We have just read John’s words in chapter 3, where the Gospel writer describes the mission of Jesus saying,

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son… (John 3:16)

“World” covers a lot of territory. Jesus had a universal ministry. He came to embody the fundamental reality that the force and power that lies at the source of all creation will not be confined to our expectations, demands or structures. Love knows no boundaries. The love Jesus embodied conforms only to the free, unexpected blowing of the wind of the Spirit.

But Jesus’ freedom was not anarchy. It was love in action.

When we listen to the inner voice of love, we live with the freedom in which Jesus lived.  We cross boundaries; we travel a path that may be unexpected and at times strange. But the path is always be marked on either side by guard rails labelled “love”. The guardrails of love keep our freedom in harmony with the power who “so loved the world that he gave his only Son”.