Thoughts on life, leadership and the movement called the church by Brian C. Hughes, Senior Pastor

by Brian C. Hughes, Senior Pastor

Monday, April 4, 2011

Easter Soul Prep Day 4: The Samaritan Woman

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.


jf said...

Why would Jesus ask the woman at the well to go and bring back her husband if he already knew that she wasn't married and was indeed, "living in sin"? Was that just a conversation starter? I guess the largest lesson I take from this chapter has to do with believing without proof. Jesus makes this point in both of these sub-stories when the woman at the well tells the towns people of her encounter with the Christ and they went and had their own encounter before telling her "Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world.". Then later, when Jesus went to Galilee and the nobleman asked him to heal his son, Jesus says "Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe". The nobleman seems to have some fairly strong faith just to have made this journey on his son’s behalf. I’m not convinced Jesus was referring to the nobleman at all here. Jesus has gone out of his way to make this point before in his ministry. I think it’s his way of preparing us modern day Christians for the faith-leap we all have to make in order to accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior. Belief without solid proof can be a high hurdle for some.

Dennis said...

Reading this story, as far as I can tell, the Samaritan woman never accepts "the living water". Certainly she may have accepted Jesus, but the words don't say that. Notice that she goes back to town and is asking the question ..."Could this be the Christ?" The verses say many came to believe in him because of the woman's testimony. She obviously had an encounter with Jesus. I think about the folks at PCC. We have people who come that don't know Jesus. We hear about some of these people who are being changed but are not quite ready to cross the line of faith for themselves yet. But they invite their friends. They bring their families. And in some cases, those they bring to check out God, come to a saving relationship with Jesus before the one who invited them does! I hadn't considered that perhaps PCC is right in the middle of Samaria.

Brian C. Hughes said...

Just a quick note to say that both of you (jf and Dennis) have taught me things about this text I didn't see before. That's the beauty of community seeking out God together through the Bible. We're better together.

thanks for your insight!