Some conversations seem doomed before they ever get started. Long before people encounter one another, preconceptions, false notions, bone-deep prejudices, or plain old garden-variety personality conflicts all conspire to keep people apart than bringing them together. This person was born in the wrong country, that person has the wrong gender, or gender identity, over there is a person whose moral and ethical compass seems to point due south, and yet another professes a false religion. From both sides comes the cry that the others are heathens, heretics, and apostates. No meaningful dialogue seems possible; it is doomed before it starts.
Jesus’ very presence in our world creates a powerful statement about crossing seemingly insurmountable boundaries for the building of God’s Kingdom. The Word—the living presence of God—became flesh and dwelt among us. The creator becomes one with creation in order to establish God’s purposes—first in Jerusalem, then all of Judea, then throughout the world. And so it is that Jesus initiates a conversation with a woman who is culturally distanced from him by every conventional understanding of race, gender, and religion. By the time they are finished talking, she has encountered God, and her simple witness of faith will transform an entire region. Her faith is simple, childlike, and lacking in sophistication, but her testimony will transform her world.