So far, every chapter of John has a substantial and notable story for us. In fact, each chapter has more than 1. I think I could write a book on John 4 alone. And the implications for us are huge. I'll try to be brief. My hope is that YOU are engaging with God through this journey. Ask questions of Him. "Lord, how do you want to change me because of this text? What should I do differently? how should I think differently?" What does the text teach you about Jesus? What does it teach you about you? Get inside of the story. Read between the lines.
The story of the Samaritan Woman is one of the most famous in the Bible, at least inside of the church.** A Jew would go out of his way to avoid Samaria. Samaritan Jews had inter-married with their Assyrian conquerers 700 years earlier. From a purely Jewish perspective, Samaritan Jews were half-blooded, which made them dirty and defiled. They were worse than enemies. They were traitors.
So I find John's language interesting in v. 4 "Now [Jesus] had to go through Samaria." That's just not true, from a purely geographic perspective. One could go around Samaria, and most Jews did exactly that. I think John is not referring to mapquest, though, but rather to Jesus' calling. He was compelled to go. Jesus knew who he would find there.
You should read the story for yourself, but I did see this time something I hadn't noticed before: the woman came to get water, but left her jar after the encounter with Jesus and ran back to town without it (v.28). Indeed, she had drank for the first time from the 'living water' Jesus talked about.
It made me think of this lady I met once in Amelia. She might still be there for all I know, though it's been years since I've talked to her. She carefully searched for a particular property - one that had a natural spring on it with a large volume of water. Once she found it, she bought the land and started bottling the water and distributing it for sale. Whereas most ponds or resevoirs are dependent on water sources outside of the property boundary (like streams or rivers or runoff), the property she bought was not dependent on outside sources. She had all she needed inside of what was hers.
That's what Jesus was talking about here.
Funny that this lady goes back and tells some folks about her encounter with Jesus and more people are introduced to Him as a result, and then they have their own encounters and claim a faith that is their own, too.
From that day to this one, faith happens like that. You and I encounter Jesus, we testify to what God has done in our lives and how we have been changed, others are curious and they investigate, which leads to their own encounter and life change and on and on.
More than the Samaritan Woman happens in John 4, and you should read it all and spend some time with God talking about it.
Tomorrow, John 5.
**We actually did a video element at church this weekend that was a modern way of seeing her. Go 18:20 into yesterday's service (you can get there by clicking here) to see it.