Samaritan woman~game of tennis

One of the things that fascinates me about the person of Jesus, is how much he cared for the outcast, the underdog, for people shunned by society. None of this ‘Get in with the right kind of people attitude’, no rubbing shoulders with the rich and famous to make himself known and respected. He genuinely cared for the kind of person that others would dismiss at a glance.

Such a person appears in our gospel today.

She’s a woman first of all, (and it wasn’t considered a respectable thing for a Jewish man to carry on a conversation with a woman)

Secondly she was a Samaritan, and Jews did not associate with Samaritans, relationships were very strained with them.

Thirdly this was a woman who was in fact living in sin. Jews abhorred sin.

Three very good reasons why any normal Jew would have passed on by!

But Jesus, did not. He was hot, tired and thirsty, and he was sitting by a well, and along came a woman.

Jesus made the most of the moment, he took his time, he listened and he responded to her.

I have read this story many times before, but when I read it this week, it suddenly stuck me how like a game of tennis it is.

You can almost keep the score.

Jesus was one of the greatest servers we’ve ever known, and he began play first with the words:-

“Give me a drink” 15-0

Now this woman has real character ( you can’t be married to five husbands and have a live in lover without some kind of personality or character. She is clearly not intimidated by Jesus.

She responds,

“You a Jew ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?” 15-all

And so the game goes on as told in our gospel reading.

Jesus offers her living water, she plays back with

“Where’s your bucket?” 30 -all

“You will never be thirsty with this water,”

says Jesus. Now that particular shot is received well. She decides that she would like some of this water.

“Give me some,” she replies. The game then goes to Deuce

But then the advantage goes to Jesus, he plays an ace.

“ Go and call your husband!”

It catches her off guard for a moment.

“ I haven’t got a husband!” “You’re right there. You’ve had five husbands and the one you are living with is not your husband,”

She realises that she’s been caught with her foot over the line. Jesus knows all about her form, her style of play. She realises she’s up against the best. He’s an expert player.

He has already sussed her out.

But she cleverly composes herself and brings the game back to deuce with a very tricky deflection.

“Where should people really worship God?”

“All people must worship God in Spirit and Truth,” replies Jesus.

She realises he has the upper hand again. The advantage is his.

When she realises that Jesus is who she thinks he is... the Messiah, the game is over. Game, set and she’s met her match in Jesus.

Off she runs into the city, making quite a ‘racket’, probably quite ‘strung’ up by now, very excited; and she collects a whole stadium of spectators to witness what she herself has seen. The champion player of the world has come, and many of the spectators come to believe for themselves once they see and hear him.

Have you ever noticed how much love there is in a game of tennis. 15-Love; 30- love; 40- love ? Love is the best tactic of all.

That’s how Jesus won all of his games, because he loved; he loved especially the unlovely. He loved those who tried to do him harm.

But you know, we as players in the game don’t always receive very well;

There are sometimes obstacles in the way which prevent his love from reaching us. We too are good at deflections.

We see the love of God coming towards us, in Jesus and we lift our rackets up and respond:

‘I daren’t lower my defences , I’ll get hurt’

‘Someone will say I’m much too involved in the game, and I don’t want to be too involved.’

‘I don’t want to show my weaknesses’

‘I’m not good enough’

‘Not just yet there’s plenty of time.’

‘I’ll be a spectator, but don’t expect me to play.

‘I’m a player who is cheating at the moment, now is not the time’

What will it take for God to win us over with his love?

The deuce we’re being offered is the living water which is God’s own son, and those who drink of this water will never ever be thirsty again.

All we are asked to do is accept it.

We are all on the court at the moment.

The game won’t last forever.

How will we play the game?

Like the woman at the well, I was seeking

For things that could not satisfy

And then I heard my Saviour speaking

Draw from the well

That never shall run dry

Fill my cup Lord, I lift it up Lord

Come and quench this thirsting of my soul

Bread of Heaven feed me till I want no more

Fill my cup fill it up and make me whole.

There are millions in this world who are craving

The pleasures earthly things afford

But none can match the wondrous treasure

That is found in Jesus Christ the Lord

So consider, if the things this world gives you

Leave hunger that won’t pass away

My blessed Lord will come and save you

If you kneeel to him and humbly pray.

I have built me a wall

I have conquered it all

And I don’t need the world anymore

I have buried my pain

Till it rises again

But inside me a little child cries

Let me love you

Let your walls come tumbling down

Little child run to me and be free

I’ll let no-one come in

They may see how I grin

But they won’t see the pain in my eyes

They won’t understand how

I’m invulnerable now

But inside me a little child cries.

Friends are shadows long gone

So I’ll have to be strong

And I’ll drink all my sorrows away

I’ll keep building the walls till they’re thick and they’re tall

But inside me a little child cries.