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  • Background:  Samaria was initially settled by foreigners placed by various Assyrian and Babylonian kings, as well as some Israelites.  In time intermarriage had mingled religiously and racially.  Given the strong theologically governed culture at the time, Jews in particular looked upon the Samaritans with disdain and prejudice.

    1)  The Samaritan woman at the well would’ve been surprised by the friendliness of Jesus Christ in the same way perhaps that American blacks would’ve been surprised in a racially divided 50’s-60’s in America.  Especially similar when remembering “colored only” bathrooms, water fountains, etc.

    2)  Christ teaches us that we are judged individually, and independent of our ancestors.  While it is true that we may be held partially responsible for what we teach our progeny, we are not held accountable to the “sins of our fathers.”

    3)  It is perhaps important symbolically that among the first peoples that Christ taught was the despised and discriminated against Samaritans.  It was important for his Disciples to start to overcome their well ingrained prejudices, and Christ set the example in doing so.  The culture was so inflexible and dogmatic that I think Christ understood that it would take little by little, but also grand gestures to overcome such deeply rooted prejudices.

    4)  The Samaritan woman’s demeanor changed while conversing with Christ.  At first was understandably wary, simply referring to him as “Jew” (v:9).  When Christ responds to her with respect , she then starts to refer to him as “Sir” (v’s:11,15,19), even later declaring Christ a Prophet (v:19).  She understood that Christ was someone special, in that he didn’t belittle her, answered her questions respectfully, and somehow knew things about her personally.  She had so much faith in what Christ said that she left in considerable haste (leaving her waterpot) and rounded up others to come listen to Christ . . . essentially becoming one of the first missionaries.

    Similarly, I think my prayers have become less “wary” and more heartfelt as I understand the Savior better.  The more I grow, the more I desire to understand, and the easier it is to share with others.  The obligation to share testimony is so important to the spreading of the Gospel.  The Samaritans were quick believers of Christ simply because the woman testified of him (John 4:39).

    5)  Water in itself is the foundation of physical life.  We can survive weeks without food, but only a couple of days without water.  Similarly the “living water” of Christ is essential to our eternal life.  Jeremiah 2:13 teaches us that to accept anything less, to attempt to counterfeit the “living water” of Christ is by definition “evil”.

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  • First, some interesting points and background of John the Baptist.

    John’s birth, name, and life mission was announced to his father Zacharias by the Archangel Gabriel . . . the same messenger who revealed similarly to Mary, the mother of Jesus.

    John which means “God is gracious”, was a somewhat surprising name for the child of Zacharias and Elisabeth since John was not a family name which tradition generally dictated (Luke 1:59-63).

    With John is found the ultimate fulfilling of the “Spirit of Elias” (Matt 11:14), which is a preparatory power.  Always was he preaching of the coming Christ (Matt 1:3-7).

    John was a Levite, which meant he was preordained to be a Priest, like his father, but we know that instead he was a great Prophet.

    Two of the disciples of Christ, were first disciples of John.  Perhaps there were others, but we know of John and Andrew at least.

    John grew up in the wilderness , similarly to Elijah and Moses.  We know little about why that was necessary, but we can speculate that his birth would’ve fallen under the same death order invoked by King Herod in response to the birth of Jesus.  If the supposition that John’s father was martyred (Matt 23:25), then perhaps we can conclude that his loving mother hid him in the wilderness.

    Some of the prophets who knew about the coming of John, and his mission includes; Isaiah, Nephi, Lehi, Malachi.

    I wanted to write about John the Baptist for a few reasons.  I’m awed by his humility, to know that his life is a life of servitude . . . and “second”.  I wonder if he chafed at that . . . did it take him time to reconcile his spirit and pride to the fact that he was foreordained to trumpet the life and mission of someone else?  Or was his spirit so pure right from the start that he gleefully dedicated his entire being to his mission.  Rarely do we see examples of someone willingly and happily turning over their power and influence to others; and make no mistake, John the Baptist was incredibly powerful and influential at the time.

    However his maturation into his role, his birth is conceivably the second most heralded, the second most rejoiced ever in the history of the world.  With the birth of John came the final Prophet of the Law of Moses, the ushering in of the fullness of the Gospel.  So important was the role of John, that 700 years prior the Prophet Isaiah knew of his mission.  So great was his mission, that Christ himself declared him the greatest of men ever born (Matt 11:11).   John’s parents rejoiced at his birth because they were old and barren and fearful of never knowing the joy of parenthood.  The spiritually enlightened rejoiced because they knew the coming Savior was nigh.  Modern day Saints rejoice him as the restorer of the keys of Aaronic Priesthood.

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