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  • John 4: Samaritan Woman at the Well

    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”.

    Published on May 4, 2013 · Filed under: Religion;
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