Jesus and the Samaritan Woman
Have you ever felt rejected by society and/or by the “religious establishment” around you? Or have you ever been caught up in judging, condemning, rejecting those in need of Jesus? Then this message is for you.
Let’s hear what the Word of the LORD will say to us today.
Christ Witnesses to the Woman at the Well
4 Therefore, when the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John 2 (though Jesus Himself did not baptize, but His disciples), 3 He left Judea and departed again to Galilee. 4 But He needed to go through Samaria.
5 So He came to a city of Samaria which is called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. 6 Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied from His journey, sat thus by the well. It was about the sixth hour [noon].
7 A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give Me a drink.” 8 For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.
9 Then the woman of Samaria said to Him, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?” For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans [Israeli half-breeds].
10 Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.”
11 The woman said to Him, “Sir, You have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep. Where then do You get that living water? 12 Are You greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, as well as his sons and his livestock?”
13 Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”
15 The woman said to Him, “Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw.”
16 Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.”
17 The woman answered and said, “I have no husband.”
Jesus said to her, “You have well said, ‘I have no husband,’ 18 for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; in that you spoke truly.”
19 The woman said to Him, “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.”
21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. 24 God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”
25 The woman said to Him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When He comes, He will tell us all things.”
26 Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am He.” – John 4:1-26
(vv.1-5) Jesus Departs from God’s Chosen to Seek Out the Rejected Samaritans
“So what’s up with the Samaritan thing?” History and bad blood, my Friends, history of bad blood that began with the split of Israel into two kingdoms: the ten Northern tribes and the two Southern tribes, and it continued to degrade when Assyria conquered the Northern Kingdom in 722 B.C. as a part of God’s judgment on their idolatrous ways. During this period Assyria deported most of the Jews from the area and brought in foreigners to intermarry with the Israelis who were left behind (something that was strictly forbidden by God, not that they had been adhering to this Law – hence the Judgment), and it was this intermarrying that created a half-breed Jewish race called “Samaritans” who regularly worshiped both God and the other gods from foreign lands in the early days.
To say that the Jews hated the Samaritans would be an understatement – prejudice and discrimination abounded in Jewish hearts (sort of like many of our hearts, huh?). Some of this intolerance came from the early Samaritan idolatrous ways (although they later became fundamentally devout to God alone) – some of it came from religious rifts that developed when the Samaritans built their own Temple of God in Mount Gerizim – some of it simply came from the impure bloodline (mixed race), but regardless of the reasons why, these two groups generally hated each other.
“So why would Jesus leave the Jews to visit Samaritan woman?” Because the trip was ordained by God – it was a part of His plan – His plan to offer Salvation to the Jews first and then to the Gentiles (Acts 3:26 & 28:28, Romans 1:16 & 2:9) – He had visited the Jews – Jesus had presented the Plan of Salvation to Nicodemus (the religious establishment) and others, and now it was time for Him to present Himself to the Gentiles, and not just to any Gentile either, but to the lowest of the low among the Gentiles – a woman – worse even a Samaritan woman who we see was locked into adultery.
A little more Jewish cultural history – you see, Jewish Rabbis never acknowledged women in public – not even their wives, and to ask for anything of a Samaritan woman, my Friends that was a big socio-religious mistake among the “hi-to-do-Jews,” but, as we’ll see throughout the Gospels, Jesus wasn’t much for keeping the religious social norms of the day – He was (and still is) all about reaching out to those who need Him – whether they be in Jerusalem, Samaria, or Timbuktu – see a person in need and there Jesus be.
(vv.6-12) Jesus Responds to Prejudice
You know, the racial, political, and religious prejudices that we see around us today aren’t unique to our little portion of history – a history that will come and go like a vapor of steam. It existed in Jesus’ day too – He knew it – the Samaritan woman knew it (displaying the scars and pain of prejudice and discrimination in her speech), but that didn’t deter Jesus. In spite of the social stupidity of their day (our day), Jesus persisted in presenting Himself – presenting the opportunity of Salvation to someone who was hated by both society and the religious establishment.
Historically many prejudices were created and/or nourished by the religious establishment – in the name of “religion” by congregants who didn’t understand the heart of the God, Jesus, and Holy Spirit of the Bible, and unfortunately, their religious leaders were either in the same in Biblical misunderstanding boat or they simply lacked the intestinal fortitude to stand for what was Righteous, and I think in many ways we still suffer from this today. In fact you would be hard pressed to find a greater segregation by race than in our churches across America. Up until 20-30 years ago or so, many white preachers pounded their pulpits twisting the Word of God in such ways so that discrimination and even slavery were wrongly justified. Likewise, today, many black preachers use their pulpits to feed social hate and discontent in unBiblical ways – it’s just a shame – regardless of race or color, it’s a shame to abuse the Word of God like that, when this Text clearly depicts Jesus as being the Savior of all – reaching out across the man-made chasms of hate and prejudice.
My Friends, if we still harbor prejudice in our hearts – if it there is any residual like this left in us from the World, we need to fully understand that it’s unBiblical – it’s sin – it’s something that must to be repented of – it’s something that must to be eradicated from our lives, because until we do that, we cannot take – we will not take Jesus to all those who Jesus died for – we will not be able to fully live out the Great Commission (Matthew 28:16:20) until it’s gone.
(vv.13-18) Jesus Gets to the Root of the Matter
I like the way that Jesus sees past our facades – the way He cuts to the chase. After offering this woman Eternal Water that will never leave her thirsty again (a metaphor for Salvation), she does the same thing Nicodemus did – she assumed Jesus was speaking of the physical – not the things of the Spirit – and she showed her hand, “Sir, give me this water so that I will never have to come back to this well.” And that statement was why Jesus needed to go through Samaria (v. 4) – He needed to offer Salvation to this woman and all those who she would later bring to Jesus, but first He needed her to let down her guard – He needed her to expose her pain – He needed her to open the door so that He could lovingly show her her sin. “Daughter, go call your Husband.” And there it is – the presentation of sin – the key to unlocking the door of Salvation.
Why did she not want to ever return to the well? Because the Samaritans, just like the Jews, knew what adultery was – they knew what she had done/was still doing, and they mistreated her for it. She may not have had a scarlet “A” sown on to the front of her dress, but she knew the shame commuted to her by the “righteous” (self-righteous) ones of her town, which is why she was drawing water at noon – not in the early morning, when the other women drew water. She went to the well when it was least likely that she would run into anyone else – she went to the well when there was a better chance that she wouldn’t have to see the fingers pointing – hear the whispers – feel the pain of her life’s choices, but today, instead of fingers, whispers, and pain she found Jesus – she found the Peace that surpasses all understanding.
My Friends, Jesus needed to go through Samaria so that He could Save this woman from herself – so that He could deliver her from her pain – so that He could forgive her sin – so that He could wash her white as snow, and today His Spirit still comes to us out of need – His need to call us unto Repentance – to accept that which He earned at Calvary – He calls us still.
And, my Friend, that leads us to another set of internal questions: How much of your life looks like Jesus at the well? How much of your life is spent seeking out those that society and/or the “religious establishment” have rejected, mistreated, judged, and cast to the side? How much of your life is spent seeking to alleviate the pain of those who are in the same condition that you were before someone introduced you to Jesus?
The answer for me to all of these questions is not enough – LORD help me to allow You to Love these people though me, because without Your Love – without Your Spirit in me doing the work – well, LORD, You see the result – not enough.
(vv.19-24) Religion Versus Relationship
Did you notice how the woman responded when she perceived Jesus to be a prophet – a leader of the “religious establishment” that hated the Samaritans? She didn’t fall on her knees in Repentance – she pulled the “old stand by” out of the bag – the differences in Jewish and Samaritans religious worship locations – she began to draw that religious line in the sand – she exposed more of the pain between the two groups – “Well we worship here on the hill, but you Jews say that it has to be in the Temple!”
There were other religious contentions between the Samaritans and Jews too, but isn’t it funny (or sad) how times, cultures, and styles may change, but the heart of mankind remains the same? How much does the Samaritan’s response sound like the meaningless war of words that took place over the centuries that often led to inexcusable bloodshed in the name of Christ? How much does that sound like us in our denominational spats over non-Salvation issues? The first sin led to the murder of uncountable millions upon millions of Believers and unBelievers alike (Exodus 20:13) – the other sin leads us to murder in our hearts (Matthew 5:21-24 & 2nd Timothy 2:14-17) – both are condemned by the Word.
So what did Jesus have to say about this foundation of this religious contention? Permit me to paraphrase (something I don’t do lightly) Woman, if you want to know the Truth, the Jews are right in their worship, for they are the bearers of the Promise to Abraham, but you know what? It doesn’t matter anymore, because the time has come when all mankind will be able to worship God in Spirit and Truth – not in a building made by man, and that will be all that matters to God – period – so break down all your ‘religious’ walls and realize that worship and sacrifice here on earth is just a shadow of how things will be in Heaven (Hebrews 8:5) and although people may argue now about the things that they see through a dark glass, the time is coming when everyone will understand all the things of God in harmony (1st Corinthians 13:12).
There is no telling how many people are out there who refuse to give their lives over to God because the so-called “Children of God” incessant fight over things of Eternal insignificance – they see the meaningless wrangling – the rude words – the hate between Brothers and Sisters instead of the Love that we are called to. How many of us demonstrate hate – how many of us demonstrate hypocrisy to the Unbelieving world – how many, because of us, blaspheme the name of God, and for what? So that we can inflate our pride and say “See here – I’m right?” I just don’t see positive examples of that in the Bible – I see plenty of negative examples in those who Jesus calls hypocrites, and I believe today we see a multitude of the unSaved refuse the calling of Christ because they don’t want to participate in the fighting and wrangling – they hold to the mentality of Doc Holliday in Tombstone “Wyatt, my hypocrisy only goes so far.” You know, this was one of my mainstays against religion before I gave my life back over to the LORD (4 years ago next month) – I hated religion– I hated the self-righteous ones – I hated the judgmental ones… and I guess I still do, but anymore it’s not because of their judgments of me – their effects on me – it’s because of their ill-begotten effects on those who Jesus came to Save. I hate their ways because they hinder the calling of Christ – they setup obstacles to Biblical Salvation – they fail to understand the heart of the God, Jesus, and Holy Spirit of the Bible.
(vv.25-26) Intellectual Assent Becomes Flesh
You know, the woman at the well knew something intellectually that many of the unSaved know today. She knew that God was going to provide a Savior, and most of those around us who haven’t given their lives to Jesus know of Jesus – they know the Name – they possess intellectual assent of His existence, but they fail to let that knowledge become Flesh in their hearts.
You may have heard this statement before, but I’ll say it again I believe most people (even many of the religious church goers) will miss Heaven by 18 inches. “Huhhh? How’s that? What’s 18 inches got to do with anything?” 18 inches is the average distance between a man’s brain and his heart, and unless his knowledge of Jesus – who Jesus is – what Jesus did – what Jesus offers makes that journey of 18 inches from his head to his heart, then he will suffer Eternal Damnation. That’s to say that unless a man takes his knowledge and transforms that knowledge into acceptance of God’s Grace – God’s Plan of Salvation by Faith in His Son, Jesus the Christ – unless that man allows Jesus into his heart, then he will be lost.
To my unSaved Friends out there, you’ve read – Jesus has spoken to you – He has said “I who speak to you am He.” But the question remains – are you going to allow Him into your heart – are you going to allow Faith in Jesus to make you Righteous in the Eyes of the LORD? If you haven’t done that, won’t you seek him now with a broken and contrite heart?
Father, You are our God, and we thank You for Your Word – we thank You for Your Plan of Salvation – we thank You for Jesus’ finished work on the Cross. We pray that Your Spirit will help us to be Jesus to those around us today by transforming our lives in such a way that we will seek out those who have been rejected – those in pain. LORD, give us the opportunity and Your Word to speak to them. It’s in the name of Jesus we pray – Amen.
Semper Fidelis †
2nd Timothy 4:1-5