Monday, February 6, 2012

John 4:1-8

One of the sweet things you see in reading the gospels is how Jesus treated each person as an individual. His encounters with people were all unique, meeting the specific needs of each person’s heart. While Nicodemus was a well-respected religious scholar and leader, in chapter 4 we meet a woman who is emotionally needy and feeling completely unworthy. Jesus goes out of his way for this encounter!

Now he had to go through Samaria. So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about the sixth hour. (John 4:4-6)

Jesus was headed from Judea, in the southern part of Israel, to Galilee, in the north. Most Jews would avoid Samaria, which is in the middle section of Israel, and go through Perea on the other side of the Jordan, because the Jews hated the Samaritans. This animosity dated back to the Assyrian invasion in 722 B.C. When the Assyrians took most of the Jews captive and back to Assyria, they left behind a few Jews. Then they sent some of their own people to settle in Israel, and these intermarried with the Jews that had been left behind.

So, the resulting Samaritans were considered half-breeds, and were despised by the Jews. While the Samaritans did believe in the books of Moses, they had been barred from the temple in Jerusalem. So they built their own temple on Mt. Gerizim, and they changed the details of some of the Bible stories so that the Garden of Eden was on Mt. Gerizim, Noah’s Ark had landed on Mt. Gerizim, and Abraham offered Isaac as a sacrifice on Mt. Gerizim! :)

With that background info, you can see that it was unusual for Jesus to purposefully go through Samaria. In fact, did you note that verse 4 tells us that he had to go through Samaria? He was compelled to go there, because He had this divine appointment with the Samaritan woman!

Verse 6 tells us that Jesus was tired from His journey - but never too tired to meet the needs of others. We’re told the time was the sixth hour, in the heat of the day. Most women would come to the well early in the morning or in the cool of the evening, but this woman came at the hottest part of the day, most likely to avoid the scorn of the other “respectable” women.

When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.) (vs. 7-8)

How interesting that Jesus sent the disciples into town for food! He could have easily produced their food miraculously, but Jesus never performed miracles to satisfy His own needs. In fact, that was one of the temptations of the devil in Matthew 4, when Satan tempted Jesus, after 40 days without food, to turn stones into bread. No, Jesus did not come to serve Himself, He came to serve us. So, he sent the disciples away, because He needed to meet this woman alone. The woman was coming to draw water, but the Living Water was about to draw her to Himself. We’ll look at their dialogue tomorrow!


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