Jesus was taking the disciples on a journey. It was a very different one for them. They were going from Jerusalem to Galilee. In order to get there, the most direct way was through Samaria. However, most Jewish people would go all the way around Samaria and up to Galilee. This is the reason.
Samaritans were half-breeds.They were half Jews and half gentiles. They were ostricized by both groups.
Samaritans were outcasts to the Jewish people.They came from a sad time in the history of the Jewish nation. When the Northern Kingdom of Israel (which consisted of 10 of the 12 tribes) was taken captive by Assyria, they were different than some of the other nations. The way they took nations captive was to bring in Assyrians to populate the land they had taken over. Before long, their people and those of the new nations had intermarried. So instead of Samaria being the site of the northern kingdom of Israel, it was now the site of “half-breeds” who were a mix of Jewish people and Assyrian people. Their religion tended to be a mix as well. Of course, GOD had commanded that they were not to marry outside of their faith, so to Jewish people, these people were worse than regular gentiles.
Jesus decided to take the disciples right through Samaria. Some of them had probably never been there before. To say this was out of their comfort zone, is an understatement!
It was the middle of the day. They needed something to drink. So they stopped by a well, hoping to get some water. This was not the time of day for them to find someone there. The women came in the early morning or in the evening to get the water for their families. But today, they were fortunate. They found a woman there getting water and asked her for some.
She was also an outcast in her own community because of her lifestyle. Of course, Jesus already knew that!
As it turned out, she was an outcast in her own community because of her marital status–she had 5 husbands previously and the man she now lived with was not her husband. This was definitely the best time of day to avoid running into those women who hated her!
As the story moves on, it is obvious that Jesus already knew her history before he met her. Yet He found a way to embrace her. He understood her need as well. He did not see through her. He realized she was a unique person. She realized it too. After a short theological discussion that he ended with a question about her husband (getting to the heart of some of her issues) and then discussing a bit more about who He was, she ran to tell her friends about Him.
Suddenly,revival breaks out in Samaria. Early in Jesus’ ministry, He shows how much He cares for Gentiles, half gentiles, and other outcasts!
What followed was a 2 day stay in Samaria as Jesus held a small revival there (joking!). The woman called her friends to hear Him because He had told her all about herself. But the friends heard more about Jesus over the 2 days. They all came to believe in Him because of His words. So GOD’s embrace of this woman led a large group of people to Christ in this one town. I’m certain her life was changed along with many others as well.
How has GOD’s embrace of you affected your life? If Christ found you as a child, the change may not have been nearly as dramatic as in the life of this woman. But it is real. It just may take a little thinking about it. You may not have the enthusiasm she had, but maybe as you think about the pitfalls you missed, you can find more enthusiasm.
Whether you had a big contrast before and after Christ or not much of one, you can become enthusiastic about who you are in Christ now…and even the fact that He has embraced you! Take a little time and write down the before and after Christ list. If the contrast isn’t big, why isn’t it? Did He protect you from many pitfalls? That is something to be very grateful for. The older I get, the more grateful I am that I don’t have the scars some of my friends have. It doesn’t make me any better than they are. GOD has just led me on a different path. I am grateful.
Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.”
The woman answered him, “I have no husband.”
Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’;
for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.”
The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet.
Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.”
Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain
nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father.
You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.
But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth,
for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.
God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”
The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ).
When he comes, he will tell us all things.”
Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.”
John 4:16-26 ESV
Action step: Think about how GOD has changed your life. As you read verses in the Bible about who you are “in Christ” you can see the changes He has made that you may not have been aware of. Is that exciting to you? Do you want those changes for your family and friends? your community? How do you plan to take the next step to share the good news about Jesus with them? (Be sure prayer is involved in your process.)