Sunday, March 20, 2011

Jesus speaks to the Samaritan woman

I wonder if it made the Samaritan woman feel uncomfortable at first to see this lone Jewish man sitting on the well she would have to use to draw water. She may have hoped that he would move away, but he didn’t, so she had no choice but to go up to the well to get her water.

Have you ever been in one of those uncomfortable situations? You want to keep yourself to yourself. But the Lord loves people, all people. There’s no ranking system with God, that some people are better, He loved this mixed-race, mixed-religion woman and He respected and honored her.

What opportunity has God opened up for you, no matter how lowly, to talk about the Gospel? What kinds of people have you already decided you won’t be talking about Jesus with because they’re just too coarse, or they’re not too smart, or they’re too worldly?

Maybe you’ve told yourself they have their own religion already, leave well enough alone, or they have science, or they’re just not your kind of people. When do prejudices stand in your way and mine, in these uncomfortable situations?

If you’re the kind of person who lives an outwardly blameless life, how do you act around a person who doesn’t? Do you make them feel comfortable around you, or do they sense your disapproval?

Notice how Jesus reached out to her in such a simple and vulnerable way. He asked her for a drink of water. Though He is God, He is also a man, and He knew what it was to be hot and tired and thirsty, to have physical needs.

She was of course surprised that a Jewish person would talk to her, and here Jesus was also a man, that made it even more uncomfortable. I’d like to think she still poured Him a drink as she asked Him how He could possible by willing to drink from her unclean jug. Jesus had an even bigger surprise for her
Jesus answered her, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, 'Give me a drink,' you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water." (John 4:10)
That really took her aback!

What was Jesus talking about? Living water in ancient times meant fresh running water which remained healthy and pure, like a stream. Often water stored in cisterns would grow stagnant, so a source of fresh water was especially valued in the desert. But even wells could go bad or run dry, so a stream was the most valuable of all since it meant that there was a continuing source of water no matter how hot and dry the rest of the area got.

The prophet Jeremiah compared God to living water, and rejecting God for earthly sources of satisfaction as being like drinking stagnant water from broken cisterns.
declares the LORD, for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water. (Jeremiah 2:12-12)
There are other Old Testament references to this idea of God being the source of fresh, pure living water, but since none of them are in the first five books of the Bible, the Samaritan woman would not have been familiar with this concept. Still, she might have remembered God's dealings with His people in the exodus, providing them with water whenever they needed it.

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