Jesus’ Discussion with a Samaritan Woman (John 4:1-42)
Our passage today is Jesus’ discussion with a Samaritan woman. This passage is in distinct contrast to Nicodemus. Nicodemus was educated, powerful, respected, orthodox, and theologically trained. The Samaritan woman was unschooled, without influence, despised, capable only of folk religion. Nicodemus was a man, a Jew, a ruler. The Samaritan woman was a moral outcast. Where Nicodemus would have sadly fit right in at our church, the Samaritan woman would stand out like a sore thumb. And in Jewish culture, the Samaritans were viewed as evil, corrupt, and scary people. However, the most important comparison is that they both needed Jesus.
The reason why Samaritans are hated so much is because of their history. After the Assyrians captured Samaria, they deported all the Israelites of substance and settled the land with foreigners, who intermarried with the surviving Israelites and adhered to some form of their ancient religion. Therefore, the Jews viewed the Samaritans not only as the children of political rebels, but as racial half-breeds whose religion was tainted by various unacceptable elements.
To get an idea of what would be going through the minds of the people reading this in the first century, I want you to imagine the person that you are the most afraid of. . Whether it be a terrorist, a gang member all inked up, a big biker dude, or a teacher, or your grandmother. Whoever it is imagine yourself sharing the gospel with them.
Are you still afraid, are they beyond reach?, no the Gospel of Jesus Christ is powerful enough to save even the most fearful of people and in fact often that is who God calls us to share the Gospel with is those that are outside of our comfort zones.
Do we underestimate the gospel’s ability to change what we think are the worst of sinners, the hardest of hearts?
I am afraid that we fall failure to this all the time. Is there a reason that most of look alike, come from a similar background? We have to assume two things when we become a church that is very similar in age, race, and in social class. We can either assume that God is not powerful enough to reach people that are different from us, that we are his favorite kind of people.
Or, we should rightly assume that we are doing something wrong in our evangelism, because God is a God that calls all people, not just white middle class people. He calls poor people, rich people, white people, black people, Hispanics, Asians, rednecks, Yankees, geeks, freaks, nerds, athletes, tall people, short people, intelligent people, dumb people, and even people with mental health disabilities. God has the power to save Samaritans, prostitutes, homosexuals, drug addicts, alcoholics, people that have committed adultery, murders, rapists, farmers, lawyers, doctors, teachers, government officials, firemen, and policemen. God has the power to save anyone and there is no one that we should not witness to because the gospel is powerful enough to reach them all.
Again just, like with Nicodemus Jesus starts with the problem with everyone, their sinful nature. He does this by pointing out that she has had five husbands and the one she is currently staying with is not her husband. Jesus exposes her sin, but Jesus is not shocked by this woman’s sin, Jesus is not disgusted with this woman, Jesus is not ashamed of this woman.
Jesus neither condemns her in her sin, nor does he justify her sins. Jesus does not rage against her, because He does not see her as the enemy. He sees her as someone that is held captive by sin. Someone that needs rescued not disciplined. He sees her as someone that needs to be liberated and needs to be free from the bondage of sin. That is why Paul says that he does not judge those on the outside, but judges those on the inside. We typically want to do the reverse. We want to rail against whatever is going on outside the church, but we want to excuse whatever is going on in our own lives and in our own hearts.
That is the typical temptation that we all have. We are ok with our sins, we can justify it. But if someone that comes along and struggles with a different sin from us, we want to condemn them. That is not what Jesus does. He sees this woman trapped in sin and seeks to untie her, not flee from her because her sin scares Him or is risky. It might make him have a bad reputation if he is seen talking to such a woman.
And that is why so many of us only have friends that look like us, act like us, and believe the same things as us, because it is safe. Although I will agree that you should have a core group of strong Christians to encourage you in your faith. Jesus had his 12 disciples, but you should also have friends that are unbelievers, this is who we constantly see Jesus hanging out with. Showing someone that you love them despite their sins and you want to help them be set free will go a lot further than just giving them food once a month, or throwing leftover change into a missions fund.
In verses 13-14, Jesus tells the woman that if she was to take a drink from Him, that she would never be thirsty again. What does Jesus mean and how is this possible? The thirst that Jesus talks about is not for natural water, but for God, for eternal life in the presence of God. God has placed a God shaped hole in everyone’s heart. That is why you will see that every people group that has ever existed has worshipped something. However, Jesus says that only He can fulfill that thirst, the thirst is met not by removing this aching desire, but by pouring out of the Holy Spirit.
Therefore, if we try to quench that thirst or fill that whole with something else besides Jesus, we will thirst again, and never be satisfied. We can try to quench our thirst with sports, we can try to quench our thirst with those of the opposite sex, we can try to quench our thirst with money, but it will always leave us empty. It is like a man that drinks salt water. He thinks that the water will quench his thirst, but what he is drinking is actually making him thirstier, until his thirst actually ends up killing him. So we need to seek to quench our thirst for God by seeking out the pure living water of Jesus Christ because only He can satisfy.
Now look what happens once the Samaritan Woman is convinced that Jesus is the Messiah. She goes back to her town and tells others about him. This is what we should expect that once one person is set free from their captivity that they will want to go tell others how to be free as well. We see that in verse 39 that Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony.
I believe this is counter to what a lot of us believe in our hearts. I believe many of us get caught up in the hype that every time someone famous comes out to be a Christian that it will lead to some great revival. Most recently, it is Tebow mania. So many people think that sense Tebow is a Christian that people are going to look at his life and say, I want my life to be like that. If Jesus is good enough for Tebow, then Jesus is good enough for me.
However, that is not what Jesus does. Jesus had the opportunities to go meet with the rich rulers, the great philosophers, the powerful roman officials, the highly educated Pharisees. But Jesus calls tax collectors, fishermen, and tent makers, people that the world would over-look. He uses the outcast to change the world. And he uses a Samaritan woman to change the eternal destiny of many in her hometown. So what can God do through you in Flemingsburg, you are not too small to be used in a mighty way by God.