Posted by: Akash Vansal | April 29, 2011

Samaritan Woman

The Gospel : Lord teaches Samaritan woman

Key text:  “Jesus answered her, ‘If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water” (John 4:10).

Lesson objective:  To understand that Jesus freely offers the gift of salvation to whoever confesses their sins and acknowledges him as Lord and Savior; his gift is universal and transcends racial, cultural and social barriers.

In the time of Jesus, Jews and Samaritans were as divided as any two peoples could possibly be. The division was deeply embedded by a history of conflict, hatred and prejudice. More than half a millennium earlier, the Babylonians had conquered the Southern Kingdom of Judah and taken many of the people into captivity (605-586 BC). As was the custom of those nations, Babylon transported masses of Jews from Judea and the surrounding areas, and settled them in the kingdom of Babylon. However, Israel was not left completely desolate; the poor people of the land were left to work the land (2 Kings 24:14; 25:12).

Even earlier, the same thing had happened with Israel’s Northern Kingdom by the Assyrians in 722 B.C., and the Assyrians brought other people in to repopulate the land (2 Kings 17:24-29; 2 Chronicles 30:1-10). While the Jews were exiled in Babylonia, the people left in the land—Israelites and Gentiles—intermarried, and that created the Samaritan people. They were partly Jewish but partly not.
After the Persians conquered Babylon, they allowed the Jews to return to their homeland. However, Nehemiah refused to allow the mixed people of the land to have any part in the rebuilding of Jerusalem (Nehemiah 2:20). Also, the returning Jews denied them any part in the rebuilding of the temple. This deepened the animosity between them (Ezra 4:1-5).
As a result, the Samaritans eventually found another place of worship. Their beliefs came to include monotheism, the Law of Moses (they accepted the Pentateuch but not any other books), and they built a temple at Mt. Gerizim as the one appointed place of sacrifice and worship. However, the Jews destroyed the Mt. Gerizim temple in 128 B.C., adding more bitterness to the already strained rivalry. Strict orthodox Jews would rather travel to Galilee from Judea by crossing the Jordan River and circling around Samaria rather than pollute themselves with Samaritan dust, even though this would add days in contrast to the more direct route straight through Samaria.

Verse 1-8
The Pharisees were the most orthodox jews who believed in strict observance of the laws. Apart from the scripture, they followed traditions handed down to them by their ancestors. Now, they did not acccept the message of John the baptist at all and were not in agreement with the preaching of Jesus. They hated both John as well as Jesus alike, just because they spoke the Truth. They came to know that Jesus was becoming more popular than even John.
When Jesus came to know of this, He left for Galilee. ( If you have any question, please ask your Bible teacher or you may write to me. Thank you)
He went through the convinient Samaria, which was not the practice of the jews. Upon coming to a small town Sychar, He felt thirsty and so was tired of the long journey, for He has been travelling on foot. He sat beside a well. A Samaritan woman came there to draw water. Jesus asked her for a drink of water.

Verse 9.
By asking the woman for a drink, Jesus broke few well observed traditions. This surprised the woman very much.
a) She is a woman. In the ancient world women were an oppressed group. It was deemed inappropriate for a man to converse with a woman in public, even with his wife, let alone a stranger!
b) The jews never asked for any favour from the Samaritans, let alone woman.
c) She was of a particularly despised race. In racism no words need be exchanged—
d) She was a social outcast, even from among her own people. Her reputation breathed adultery and fornication with each step she took. And, here, Jesus was conversing with her!
Many would venture to say there is no hope for this woman. She was dealt a bad hand at birth and she had only managed to compound her utter destruction. Thank God for Jesus Christ and the gift of salvation that he brings to whoever believes! This is a story of hope for every “hopeless”.

Verse 10
Jesus tells her that she is failing to see the Gift that God has given to her. Only if she could understand The Gift, The Saviour, she would have known the ability and power of Him, And would have certainly asked for the Living water and He would have granted her wish.

Verse 11-12
Jesus was speaking about the spiritual Truth and the woman took it literally. Hence, she points out the absence of materials to draw water from deep well. Also, since all the people, including her, were well acquainted with the available sources of potable water of that region, she questions, if He was greater than Jacob, who had dug the well from which she and all her ancestors upto Jacob drank from it. Whether he was able to provide a better source of water?

Verse 13-14
Jesus explains her that He indeed is greater than Jacob. for the water from Jacobs well will not quench thirst eternally, but the water that He will provide will not make a man thirst again.
The love of God satisfies all who thirst to drink from the spiritual well of Jesus and never thirst again. The one who believes on Lord Jesus and accepts Him as Saviour will not need any physical food or drinks to live. They will live forever. This was what Jesus was trying to explain to her.

Verse 15
The woman still fails to understand the spiritual meaning of Jesus offer of living water. She misunderstands that Jesus would give her some kind of water which would relieve of her everyday water drawing hardships. And of course Jesus did offered that same kind of water, albeit spiritual, for soul satisfaction. But one thing is clear, that the woman, to some extent, believes Jesus could give her some special kind of water.

Verse 16-18
Seeing that the woman is convinced, why Lord Jesus asks the woman to call her husband? Is this not the ultimatum of His desire that the woman buy His offer? Or He is deviating from the subject? No. By asking the woman to call her husband, Jesus wants to show her the pitiful condition of her life, the sinful life that she is living, the immoral filth in her life.
The woman answers Him that she has no husband, And Jesus agrees with her reply. He also reveals her past life.
We may live our life as we want, as we wish. But, Lord knows our every action, every deeds, every thoughts, whether good or bad.
Also, an evangelist many a times thinks by convincing a person to believe in Jesus for the sake of some benefits, the worldly benefits, that person is salvaged from sin. No. Unless the person, confess their sins, accepts Jesus as Lord and Saviour, no one is salvaged from the cluthches of sin.Verse 19-20. The purpose of Lord Jesus’ appearence was not primarily to provide worldly needs but eternal life, And no doubt, those who hold on to faith in Jesus Christ shall be richly provided with all the needs.

Verse 19-20
The woman must have been taken aback, surprised, but she was fully convinced that He was no smaller than a prophet . Likewise, she confesses and she puts forth a question beyond her understanding. She was a victim of heresy as regards to worshippping God. Some were of the view that the temple of Jerusalem was the place to worship and other held that the place her forefathers worshipped, i.e. Mt. Gerizim was the place of worship. Now, do we think that the woman is deviating from the point of conversation?
Certainly not. The woman we see was open to discussion and ready to accept the Truth from a man of authority. Seeing that Jesus was atleast a prophet, she tries to seek knowledge of true worship of God. And upon knowing, maybe she would confess her sins to God, seek forgiveness, for God alone can forgive sins. Though ignorant, she knew one thing that it is useless to worship an object who have no power or authority.

Verse 21-24
Jesus address the woman in a very respectful and compassionate manner. He address her as ‘Woman’, the way He addressed Mary. He tells her that indeed the jews are right as far as place of worship was concerned till that time, but hence forth, with the appearance of Jesus, it did not matter where we worship. As God is Spirit, He should be worshipped in the Spirit and in Truth. God seeks and approves only those who worship Him in the Spirit and Truth.

Verse 25-26
Having heard of three different versions of explanation of worshipping God, the woman is somewhat hesitant to believe what Jesus is saying. She is not ready to buy to Jesus’ explanations. But, she would believe what The Messiah would say. She is waiting for the appearence of The Messiah. Jesus makes the great revelation to her that He, who is speaking to her IS The Messiah she is expecting!
As she said, did she really believed on Jesus after knowing that Jesus Is The Messiah? The scripture doesn’t say anything about her transformation but do say of her action. And her action loudly say that she fully believed on what Jesus said. She accepted Jesus as her Saviour. Not only she, most of those to whom she evangelised also accepted Jesus as their Saviour. Glory to God in the highest.

The current passage is most loved by the evangelism teachers as it is rich in teaching an ignorant, illiterate, despised, ill treated, out caste, the way of approaching the sinner with the gospel. But at most times, the evangelical students forgets one most important thing. These students often present Christ primarily as provider of needs, or healer of ailingness or as solution to problems in life. Indeed Jesus has the power over all of these, but before laying claim for His blessings, one need to take stock of ones own life as Jesus pointed out the condition of the womans life, seek The Living LORD, confess the sins, worship HIM and accept Jesus as Saviour. Jesus did not came to ‘ relieve the hardship of everyday’ of the woman, but to fill her life with love and joy and hope.
Also, however great a sin may seem, when one surrender to Jesus and seek forgiveness, He forgives us and accepts us, because He is compassionate ans His mercy and love endures forever. Amen.
If you have still not accepted Jesus as your Saviour, Now is the time. Open your heart to Him and He will lead you to joy everlasting.


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