You may be familiar with the story of the “Good Samaritan”. But do you know the story of the “Bad Samaritan”? You might know this better as the story of the woman at the well.
In Jesus’ day, Jews thought very little of Samaritans. It may not be an overstatement to say the Jews hated the Samaritans. The origin of this animosity dated back to the Assyrian invasion of Israel around 721 BC. The Samaritans were of mixed race, partially Jewish, and partially who-knows-what. They weren’t welcome in the Temple in Jerusalem, so they worshiped in their own temple in Samaria. And, as Jesus pointed out, they worshiped what they didn’t even understand.
In John 4, we find Jesus arriving at a well near Sychar around noon. Jesus waited at the well, while his disciples went into town to buy some food. As Jesus waited, a woman came up to draw water. I’ve heard this would have been a very unusual time to draw water – and she probably came then to avoid having to interact with others – because even the people in town would have looked down on her.
Anyway, Jesus started up a conversation with the woman, asking her for water. In doing this, Jesus cut across all the social norms of his day. First, Jesus was a Jew, and the woman was an “inferior” Samaritan. Second, as I understand it, men of the day felt superior to women, and again, wouldn’t typically strike up a conversation. Finally, Jesus was holy and the Samaritan woman wasn’t. And religious leaders of his day felt superior to common sinners, and wouldn’t associate with them. Jesus cut through all of those norms to interact with this woman. The obvious reason given was because Jesus was thirsty, and the woman could draw water from the well. I believe the ulterior motive was to share salvation with this woman and ultimately with the whole city.
Right from the beginning of the conversation, the woman was surprised that Jesus would even talk with her, since he was a Jew. Jesus pointed out that if she understood who it was she was talking with, He could offer her something amazing – water welling up to eternal life. Jesus told her to get her husband, to which she replied, “I don’t have a husband.” When Jesus told her that she had had 5 husbands and that she wasn’t married to the man she was living with then – she recognized Jesus was a prophet. She said, “I know that Messiah is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.” Jesus told her directly, “I who speak to you am he.” The woman left her water jug and immediately went into town to tell everyone that she had found the Messiah. The whole town came out and ultimately believed – first, because of the testimony of the woman, then eventually because of their experience with Jesus.
Often, when we read a story like this, we associate with Jesus. We may think, “I should follow Jesus’ example, break social norms, and associate with those who are “inferior” to me.”
While this may be true, I’d like to focus on the woman, and see what we can learn from her. Although presumably “unworthy”, and probably a social outcast, Jesus revealed Himself to her – little by little. She first recognized he was a Jew, then a prophet, and finally the messiah. Once she recognized that Jesus was the messiah, the savior, she immediately dropped what she was doing to go tell everyone about her experience with Jesus. Then she literally led the people of the town to meet Jesus. Think of how little theology she knew – how few spiritual truths. But she had found the Lord, and she wanted to tell everyone. Her enthusiasm and eagerness to tell others of her experience with the Lord puts us to shame.
When you were introduced to Jesus, what was your reaction? Did you tell everyone you knew about Jesus, and what he had done for you? Did you do everything you could to bring as many people as possible to encounter Jesus?
Jesus pointed out to his disciples, “Open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.” He wasn’t talking about agriculture, he was talking about a crop for eternal life – people needing to come into a saving relationship with the Lord.
I challenge you to first, truly develop a relationship with Jesus. And once you do, tell everyone you know about the good news, so they can be saved too. The consequences are literally life and death – for eternity. What are you waiting for?
Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – John 2-4
Tomorrow we will read Mark 2 as we continue Seeking God, Growing our Faith, and Increasing our Love on our 2020 Bible reading plan.