The Upper Room devotional reflection for Friday, January 21, 2022 comes to us from Elizabeth Erlandson of Nebraska
4 Now he had to go through Samaria. 5 So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6 Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon. 7 When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” 8 (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.) 9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans. ) 10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” 11 “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?” 13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” 15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.” 16 He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.” 17 “I have no husband,” she replied. Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. 18 The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.” 19 “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. 20 Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.” 21 “Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” 25 The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.” 26 Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.”
John 4:4-26 NIV
“To Love and To Laugh”
When I was in my early twenties, a neighbor invited me to a church service. The pastor talked about the birth of Jesus, his death and resurrection, and how God wants a relationship with us. As part of the service, the ushers distributed slips of paper for the congregation to write down their prayer requests. I clearly remember mine: to love and to laugh. Loneliness and guilt had filled me with a crushing sense of unworthiness.
Like the Samaritan woman in today’s reading, I had made choices that isolated me from my family and friends. And like her, I couldn’t imagine why Jesus would want to have anything to do with me. Yet much to the surprise of the Samaritan woman, Jesus talked to her. Though they were strangers, he displayed intimate knowledge of her life and didn’t reject her. He offered her a most amazing gift – living water. Bursting with joy, she left her water jar at the well and hurried into town to share her good news. Her testimony was compelling because her spirit had been completely transformed.
In time, God transformed my life as well and led me to faith in Jesus Christ. And then, because God hears and answers prayer, God filled my life with love and laughter.
The story of the Samaritan Woman is a constant reminder that no matter what others think about us because of our ethnic heritage, our personal mistakes, or other circumstances that surround our lives, Jesus offers us God’s unconditional love. Furthermore, when we take those messages into ourselves, believing the messages others send about us, God’s loving embrace through Christ is still always offered to us without condition. That living water is available through Christ for each and all of us, a gift of grace offered without cost or restrictions. All we have to do is receive that grace from God through Christ.
Heavenly Father, thank you for the good gifts you give us. Thank you especially for the gift of salvation through your Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Lonely Young People
Thought for the Day:
God can transform my life