The Samaritan Appointment
For centuries... prior to Christ's coming... and then even after... there has been a bitter rivalry going on between the Jews and the Samaritans. And it all began back when the Kingdom was torn apart after Solomon's death...
When Rehoboam took over after his father's death... the northern tribes, under Jeroboam... Seperated from the southern tribes of Judah and Benjamin. And after Jeroboam was made King of Israel... he began an intentional path of idolatry.
Jeroboam wanted to establish his own “state religion” so that the people wouldn't be as tempted to return to the temple in Jerusalem in the south to worship. He figured that if they did that... then maybe one day... they'd throw him off as “King” and reunite with the south.
And each succeeding King after Jeroboam... got progressively worse until the Lord finally sent Assyria to conquer them. After taking many of the northern Jews into captivity... the Assyrian King began importing people from his other conquered lands into Samaria (the Northern Kingdom). (2Kgs 17:23-24)
These non-Jews not only began intermarrying with the Jews that remained behind... but they also brought their foreign gods with them... Eventually this pagan worship intermingled with the worship of Yahweh. (Which is called “syncretism”... an amalgamation of various religions into one. Kinda like Voodoo which blends elements of Christianity with Witchcraft and some other pagan practices.)
Then some years after the Northern Kingdom had been taken away... the Southern Kingdom was taken captive into Babylon... but were allowed to return some 70 years later...
Immediately upon their return to the land... they started rebuilding the temple and then the wall... the Samaritans offered to help... but because they were considered “half-breeds” and “mongrels” by the Jews... they were flatly rejected.
This rejection then caused the Samaritans to side with Israel's enemies and began centuries of mistrust and deep animosity. The Jews hated the Samaritans. The Samaritans hated the Jews...
By the time of Christ, though... the Samaritans had largely abandoned their idol worship and worshiped Yahweh... after a fashion.
You see... they accepted only the Pentateuch (the first 5 books of Moses) as Scripture and they worshiped God on Mount Gerizim... not Jerusalem. And because they only recognized a portion of the Scripture... they didn't have a complete revelation of the Messiah that was come...
Because they believed there would be one to come “like Moses”... but He'd primarily be a teacher... as we see from the Samaritan woman's statement in... Joh 4:25 HCSB ..."I know that Messiah is coming" (who is called Christ). "When He comes, He will explain everything to us."
Buy the idea of the Messiah saving anyone... or establishing a Kingdom... well, they just didn't have that clear picture yet.
Now, partly because of their long history of animosity... and partly because of their traditions... the Samaritans were considered to be “perpetually unclean”. The more orthodox Jews would avoid all contact with any Samaritan... even to the point of bypassing their entire region.
Many of the Jews would “never” eat any food prepared by Samaritan hands, or drink any beverage out of a Samaritan container. To do so would cause the Jew to become “unclean” himself.
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Now, I've given you a little of the history concerning the animosity between the Jews and Samaritans in order to illustrate and emphasize the differences between the typical orthodox Jew of the time... and our Lord Jesus Christ.
For you see... though Jesus was most definitely orthodox... He was so in the true sense. He followed the Word of God to the letter... not the traditions of men. Because where the orthodox Jew would ignore and bypass Samaria and all Samaritans because of their “traditions of the elders”....
Jesus would instead, seek out the lost... regardless of nationality... because the mission of the Jews was to spread the knowledge of God to “the nations”... not shut the nations out!
Isa 49:6 HCSB ...I will also make you a light for the nations, to be My salvation to the ends of the earth."
Psa 96:2-3 HCSB Sing to Yahweh, praise His name; proclaim His salvation from day to day. (3) Declare His glory among the nations, His wonderful works among all peoples.
Though His primary mission was to the “lost sheep of the house of Israel”... Jesus would not avoid Samaria... as we see throughout His ministry... which was one of the complaints the Jews had against Him... Luk 15:2 HCSB ..."This man welcomes sinners and eats with them!"
They would also try to use his readiness to minister in Samaria against Him... Joh 8:48 HCSB The Jews responded to Him, "Aren't we right in saying that You're a Samaritan and have a demon?"
Our Lord Jesus Christ wasn't afraid of those who were the “cast off” of society... the sinners... the lepers... the Samaritans... and neither should we.
In this “Samaritan Appointment”... we see some characteristics of Christ on display... that we would do well to imitate in our own daily encounters with the people around us... and we begin with...
I. His Mercy Seen
Joh 4:1-9 HCSB When Jesus knew that the Pharisees heard He was making and baptizing more disciples than John (2) (though Jesus Himself was not baptizing, but His disciples were), (3) He left Judea and went again to Galilee. (4) He had to travel through Samaria, (5) so He came to a town of Samaria called Sychar near the property that Jacob had given his son Joseph. (6) Jacob's well was there, and Jesus, worn out from His journey, sat down at the well. It was about six in the evening. (7) A woman of Samaria came to draw water. "Give Me a drink," Jesus said to her, (8) for His disciples had gone into town to buy food. (9) "How is it that You, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?" she asked Him. For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.
In the early part of Jesus' ministry... when His ministry overlapped John's ministry... during that time when John was “decreasing” and Jesus was “increasing”... John's disciples took it kinda personally when Jesus began to “siphon” off some of John's followers.
And as we can see from our passage today... that the Pharisees knew of this too. So, Jesus decides to go back to Galilee. Now... there's any number of reasons why people say Jesus left the area... but I can guarantee you... it wasn't because He was afraid of the Pharisees... We have numerous accounts of His encounters with those folks... and they always ended up with the “short end of the stick”.
No... I think some better reasons would be that maybe Jesus wanted to let John's ministry continue until it was over... Or maybe... since Jesus knew of the Pharisee's interrogation techniques... He decided to avoid them for the moment.
After all... His time was not yet. He probably didn't want to be asked a bunch of messianic questions just yet and become “revealed” too soon.
And... just as He saw Nathaniel under the fig tree before He called him to be a disciple... I believe Jesus also saw a troubled woman at a well in Samaria near Sychar...
And in an amazing act of mercy... Jesus went into a “defiled” and “unclean” land... and at the appointed time... He speaks with this woman... and He asks her for a drink of water!
We can only speculate on the astonishment of this woman... that a strange Jewish man would not only speak with her in public... but also ask for a drink of water!
Because you see... Jewish men simply didn't speak to women in public... not even to their own wives! It would appear to be the height of forwardness for a man to speak to a woman... and especially at a well!
The Jews and Samaritans were very familiar with the stories of Isaac and Jacob... and how that their wives were first encountered at the local well... so Jewish men tended to avoid that scenario and any image of impropriety.
But Christ's mercy overrides customs... He not only spoke to a woman... He spoke to her at a well... and He asked for a drink of water from the hands of someone who was unclean and caused everything she touched to become unclean also.
Folks... if Christ were afraid of that which is unclean... He never would have visited this earth which sin had turned into a perfect dunghill.
He wasn't afraid to associate with the downtrodden... and neither should we. The mercy He showed toward Samaria and this Samaritan... should be the example we strive toward in our own dealings with people of other races and cultures...
Then next we see...
II. His Generosity Displayed
Joh 4:10-14 HCSB Jesus answered, "If you knew the gift of God, and who is saying to you, 'Give Me a drink,' you would ask Him, and He would give you living water." (11) "Sir," said the woman, "You don't even have a bucket, and the well is deep. So where do You get this 'living water'? (12) You aren't greater than our father Jacob, are You? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and livestock." (13) Jesus said, "Everyone who drinks from this water will get thirsty again. (14) But whoever drinks from the water that I will give him will never get thirsty again--ever! In fact, the water I will give him will become a well of water springing up within him for eternal life."
Christ is able to read our hearts like an open book. He instantly knows what our deepest needs are... and He stands prepared to fulfill those needs.
He read this woman in an instant and immediately began to turn their conversation from the physical realm to the spiritual. It takes her a while to catch on... and she struggles to make the transition... But in His infinite mercy, He gives to her the most generous offer of her life...
Joh 4:10 ..."If you knew the gift of God, and who is saying to you, 'Give Me a drink,' you would ask Him, and He would give you living water."
There are quite a few people out there who might think that they're “God's gift”... but the only Gift that God ever gave in that sense was His Son. Jesus Christ is literally... “God's gift to mankind!”
“Woman... if you only knew who I truly was... you'd be asking me for a drink... and I'd give you 'Living Water'!”
Now... this woman knew what living water was... After all... everyone knows that water in a pool, pond or cistern isn't “living” water... it's stationary... stale... and stagnant.
No... “living water” was water fed by a stream, river or fountain... It moved... it was “alive”... it was always fresh! And this well... Jacob's well... though it was over 100 ft deep... yet, it was fed by an underground stream... so IT was “living water” too...
“But Sir... you don't even have anything to keep water in. You don't have a rope to lower it into the well to draw the “living” water out. Where and how are you going to give anyone this “Living Water”?
“Our patriarch, Jacob, dug this well himself and gave it to us. Even 'he' had to use a rope and container to draw water out. You're not better than our patriarch... are you?”
Just as Nicodemus took a little time transitioning from the physical to the spiritual... Joh 3:4 HCSB "But how can anyone be born when he is old?" Nicodemus asked Him. "Can he enter his mother's womb a second time and be born?"
This woman had similar difficulties... but Jesus persists... because anyone who drinks this H2O will have to keep drinking it in order to survive... But the water that He offers... not only to her... but to all of us... this living water is eternal life!
It's not the Holy Spirit... because He hadn't been given yet. The Living Water that Jesus generously offers is salvation... eternal life... to all who believe!
Isa 12:3 HCSB You will joyfully draw water from the springs of salvation,
Isa 55:1a HCSB "Come, everyone who is thirsty, come to the waters...
The generous gift that Jesus offered to this woman... which He offers to all who will believe... is the same generous gift we must continue to broadcast and shout from the rooftops... “COME TO THE WATERS AND DRINK DEEPLY!”
III. His Patience Unveiled
Joh 4:15-20 HCSB "Sir," the woman said to Him, "give me this water so I won't get thirsty and come here to draw water." (16) "Go call your husband," He told her, "and come back here." (17) "I don't have a husband," she answered. "You have correctly said, 'I don't have a husband,'" Jesus said. (18) "For you've had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true." (19) "Sir," the woman replied, "I see that You are a prophet. (20) Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, yet you Jews say that the place to worship is in Jerusalem."
Jesus' patience appears to be a little shorter with Nicodemus than with this woman. He told Nicodemus... Joh 3:10 HCSB "Are you a teacher of Israel and don't know these things?" Jesus replied.
And this is probably because Nicodemus... being a “leader” and a “teacher” of Israel... would be held to a different standard... Jas 3:1 HCSB Not many should become teachers, my brothers, knowing that we will receive a stricter judgment
But Christ's patience is easily seen throughout this conversation with the Samaritan woman.
She doesn't quickly get the spiritual meaning of the “Living Water”... and then still thinks “in the natural” that maybe she does want some of this water so she won't have to make all these trips to the well!
Then... after Jesus tells her to go get her husband and she makes an attempt to distract Him from THAT topic by saying she doesn't have a husband...
In all of this... we can see that even though He's displaying a lot of patience with her ignorance... her ignorance won't give her a “pass” on her sin... Salvation is her ultimate need... and she needs to be faced with her sin so she can be brought to repentance...
So Jesus tells her... Joh 4:17b-18 HCSB You have correctly said, 'I don't have a husband,'" Jesus said. (18) "For you've had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true."
You see... Jesus isn't simply pointing out her sin... but just how great that sin was. She was living contrary to the Law in more ways than one. Even the most liberal of rabbi's would only allow 3 husbands in a lifetime...even in the case of death!
She had her three... and then some... not to mention that the man she was currently living with wasn't even her husband at all!
When she makes the statement... Joh 4:19 "Sir,"..."I see that You are a prophet. She appears to be shaken... and is no longer trying to hide her sin. Matter-of-fact... many believe that it's at this point... this is her “confession” and her beginning to turn away from sin...
The next step after a person is faced with their sin... confesses it... and repents of it... is to find out “What comes next?”
“You Jews worship at the temple... We are told to worship on this mount... What's right? What do I need to do now?”
And in Jesus' final response, we see...
IV. His Deity Revealed
Joh 4:21-26 HCSB (21) Jesus told her, "Believe Me, woman, an hour 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, because salvation is from the Jews. (23) But an hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth. Yes, the Father wants such people 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 explain everything to us." (26) "I am He," Jesus told her, "the One speaking to you."
What a victory He's won here! The grace of God can soften even the hardest and most callous of hearts... and this carnal and wicked woman... bowing to the One who sits on the “mercy seat”... wants to know... “What's next?”
And also notice... that even though these things are hidden from the wise and prudent... Jesus now reveals them to this woman who has been made humble... He's unveiling spiritual truth to babes...
And I'm sure the answer she gets isn't what she expected because Jesus basically starts out by telling her...
“A day is coming when that issue will be irrelevant! You won't worship here OR there! But until that time... the Jews have it right. You Samaritans don't believe in the whole Bible... so, you don't have all the necessary information you need to worship properly.”
“But one day... 'where' you worship won't be nearly as important as the 'nature' or your worship!”
You see... the “spirit” Jesus is speaking of here isn't the Holy Spirit... but the human spirit. He's telling us that worship must be internal... not external. It will proceed from the “heart” and not ceremonies and rituals.
So when Jesus tells this Samaritan woman that true worship will be in “spirit” and “truth”, He's saying that this heart worship will be consistent with the Scriptures and will be centered on the incarnate Word of God!
She's still somewhat confused and expresses her hope that she'll understand all this much better when the Messiah comes... because... Joh 4:25b He will explain everything to us.
But she won't have to wait... because the One she seeks has come! Joh 4:26 "I am He," Jesus told her, "the One speaking to you."
Jesus had avoided revealing Himself to the Jewish people because what they expected wasn't what He came to do... this time. He didn't come to lead a revolt and throw off the Roman yoke...
He came this time to save. And because of the faith of this Samaritan woman... she has earned the honor of being the first person to hear Jesus' open declaration that He is not only the Messiah... but God incarnate.
He said... “I am”... the first of His many “I am” statements in this gospel... Connecting Himself forever as the Lord... who at the burning bush... declared to Moses... “I Am that I Am!”
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Jesus' encounter with this Samaritan woman illustrates to us three non-negotiable truths about salvation...
First... salvation comes only to those who recognize their desperate need for the spiritual life they don't have. Living water is given only to those who are spiritually “thristy”...
Second... salvation comes only to those who confess they're sinners... repent of their sins... and come to Christ for forgiveness. Before this woman could embrace the Savior... she had to acknowledge the full weight of her iniquity.
And third... salvation comes only to those who embrace Jesus Christ as their Messiah... and sin bearer. After all... salvation is found in no one else!