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Sunday, May 1, 2016

Samaritan Woman at the Well – John 4

       New Water and a New Way of Worship

     In the story of the Samaritan woman at the well, Jesus will reveal “new” living water that only He can give (Holy Spirit and Anointed Word), and a “new” way of worship – in Spirit and in Truth. After being born again in the Spirit, we need the Living Water of Truth and the Holy Spirit to lead, guide and mature us into faithful men and women of God. Jesus is the Truth and the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth. These two work together in complete harmony and agreement as one.
            Jesus has just revealed to Nicodemus, a Jewish Pharisee, teacher of the Law and member of the Sanhedrin Council, that he must be washed and have a new, spiritual birth. The Jews believed they were saved through their ancestry to Abraham and the covenant God made with him regarding his descendants. When God saw Abraham, He didn’t see just one man. He saw an earthly kingdom through his descendants as well as a spiritual eternal kingdom. In order for this to happen, Abram (earthly name given by his parents) must separate himself from his country, his people and his family in Babylon and go to a land God would show him. Abraham (his spiritual name given by God) must obey God and be committed to His purpose. Abram was called out of Babylon and chosen by God’s grace like all believers. After Abram was tested and tried and found faithful, God gave Abraham his spiritual name and a spiritual son, Isaac. God is still choosing by grace and calling people out of Babylon and will continue to do so right to the end. Babylon represents wickedness. (see Revelation 18:2) In this Chapter of Revelation which is about Babylon, God said, “Come out of her, My people, so that you will not share in her sins, so that you will not receive any of her plagues, for her sins are piled up in heaven.” V 4-5 God is still calling people out of Babylon now and at the time of the end. God wants that all would be saved so He continues to call people out of Babylon (wickedness) and into the arms of the Savior Jesus.
            Abram means “Exalted Father,” and Abraham means “Father of the multitudes.” He is a type and shadow of the Heavenly Father who would eventually offer His One and Only Son to die on the cross for the atonement of sin, as earthly Abraham offered to do with his only spiritual son, Isaac, but God provided a substitute ram in Isaac’s stead. This was a foreshadowing of what God would eventually do through His chosen and precious Son.
Jesus Came for All People
Nicodemus was honored and esteemed by his peers as well as the Jewish people. Nicodemus had value in the eyes of others, but Jesus will now show us that He accepts and cares about a Samaritan woman who was a woman of ill-repute and condemned and despised by others. Jesus had to make Nicodemus see that he was a sinner in need of a Savior in spite of being one of God’s chosen people who believed in the True God, as well as Nicodemus’ belief that he was leading a righteous life in his various positions of authority and power. On the other hand, this Samaritan woman knew that she was a sinner who was full of shame at the promiscuous life she has led. She was rejected and despised by others. Jesus will accept this woman and teach her about Himself and His living water, just as He accepted and taught Nicodemus about the new birth.
            Through Jesus’ experience with Nicodemus, the Jew, and this Jew-Gentile woman, He wants us to know that He came for believing Jews, but also for this sinful woman who was considered unclean by the Jews because she is a mixed breed. Jesus is no respecter of persons.
Hostility Between the Jews and the Samaritans
The Samaritans began as Israelites from the Northern Kingdom. After the twelve tribes divided, King Omri built a new capital city for the northern tribes and called it Samaria. It was located in the territory of Manasseh and Ephraim at the base of Mount Gerizim. It eventually became a region called Samaria. When the wicked king Ahab and his wife Jezebel ruled in Samaria, the Jews intermarried with the gentile pagans in the land. They were a mixed breed – Jew/Gentiles. Because of this, the Jews considered them “unclean.” Some of the people in the Northern tribes stopped worshiping the true God and turned to false gods. During the Babylonian captivity the hostilities between the Jews and the Samaritans increased. Instead of Jerusalem, the Samaritans declared Mount Gerizim to be the proper place for the temple.  The Jews eventually destroyed the temple on Mount Gerizim making the hostility between the Jews and Samaritans even greater. So the Samaritans hated the Jews, and the Jews hated the Samaritans.
Jews would not go through Samaria but instead would go the longer way around to get to Galilee. But Jesus “had need to go to Samaria.”  There was a Samaritan woman there in need of salvation. Jesus went right into what the Jews considered enemy territory. There was no hatred in His heart toward the Samaritans. He saw them in the same way He saw the Jews – sinners in need of a Savior. Jesus broke down the walls of exclusiveness, hatred, bitterness, condemnation, judgment, racial and gender bias in His encounter with this sinful Samaritan woman. Jesus not only showed love and mercy to both Nicodemus and this Samaritan woman, He also taught them both the Truth.
     This Jew/Gentile woman of Samaria together with the Jews represented by Nicodemus are a foreshadowing of the future Bride of Christ which will be made up of Jews and Gentiles, males and females who believe in Jesus Christ. There is no pure bloodline except the pure blood of Jesus Christ. Jesus’ love is for everyone whether Jew or Gentile, righteous or sinful, male or female, young or old. The truth is we are all vile sinners no matter how holy we may think ourselves to be, and are chosen solely by the grace and love of the Father and Jesus. Christians and Jews must be very careful not to get prideful or arrogant because of their chosenness. We are not to rest upon the laurels of our chosenness but upon the grace and love of the One who chose us. Jesus said, “You did not choose Me; I chose you.” Jesus equaled the playing field. Jews and Gentiles (all others) must be saved and given eternal life through Jesus.
Jacob’s Well
     Now Jesus had to go through 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 had traveled approximately 30 miles from Jerusalem. He was tired from the long journey so He stopped at a well for rest and a drink of water to refresh Him. Jacob, the father of the twelve tribes of Israel, bought land in Shechem (see Genesis 33:19) which was obviously near the ancient city of Sychar. This city no longer exists. Sychar means “end.” Sychar was near Shechem, which is referred to as the valley of decision in Joel 3:14. It is a valley between Mount Gerizim (Mount of blessing) and Mount Ebal (Mount of cursing). This Samaritan woman will come to the end of her sin, shame and rejection at Sychar and begin a new journey with Jesus. Jacob obviously dug a well near Sychar to supply water for his family. All “Israel” drank from this well because Jacob’s 12 sons were the beginning of Israel. God changed Jacob’s name to “Israel” after the spiritual Man rendered Jacob's own strength lame so he would walk following the Lord. Jacob walked in a new way after His encounter with the spiritual Man (Jesus), just as believers in Jesus are to walk in a new way being led by our Master and Savior. Jesus wants all “Spiritual Israel” (believers in Christ) to drink from His well of salvation, the Holy Spirit and Word. God also saw in Jacob/Israel an earthly kingdom as well as an eternal spiritual kingdom.
         Wells were fed by a wellspring deep in the earth. The Jews believed that “living” water was moving, running water like a spring or a river. Jesus will teach this woman about His “living water” that only He can give. The woman was talking about earthly water in Jacob's well, but Jesus is talking about the Living Water of the Holy Spirit. Jesus is the wellspring that pours out the water of the Holy Spirit and Word to all. Jesus is the fulfillment of Jacob’s well in the spiritual.
Jesus Goes Out of His Way to Save One Sinner

               Jesus had sent His disciples to buy food. A Jew at the time of Jesus would not have anything to do with food touched by a Samaritan, but Jesus’ disciples obeyed their Master and went to buy food in Samaria. Rabbi Jesus wanted to be one on one with this woman to draw her into a relationship with her Savior. Salvation must be a personal decision between Jesus and the sinner! Jesus will use the “natural” water in Jacob’s well to teach this Samaritan woman a “spiritual” truth. God not only supplies “natural” water to sustain our physical life, He also supplies the “spiritual” water of the Holy Spirit and Word that will sustain our spiritual life.  The wellspring of spiritual water (Jesus) was talking with this adulterous, Samaritan woman. This woman was no doubt beautiful on the outside because she had many men. But inside, this woman was holding some deep emotional wounds in her heart and mind. She had suffered rejection. Perhaps her husbands had been unfaithful to her or abandoned her. Her personal life was a mess. All-knowing Jesus saw her pain and reached out to her in love and acceptance. The others rejected her and derided her but Jesus will be her Savior and will fill her with the power of the Holy Spirit to help heal her pain and restore her to right relationship with her Spiritual Husband.  

Jesus Asks This Sinful Woman to Serve Him
     When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give Me a drink?”  The Samaritan woman said to Him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.) John 4:7, 9
             Jesus’ consuming passion was to save the lost whether Jew or Gentile, hated or loved, rich or poor, young or old, male or female. This woman saw from Jesus’ garments that He was a Jew. I am sure she was surprised to see anyone at the well since she was careful not to go to the well when others would be present.  I am sure that had she known this Jewish Rabbi would be at the well, she probably would have rearranged her schedule given the animosity between the Jews and the Samaritans.
     Jesus wanted to be alone with this sinful woman which would be unheard of during biblical times. Rabbis would not speak to a woman in public or a Samaritan for fear that they would be accused of some misconduct, but not Jesus. Jesus was as concerned for this sinful, Samaritan woman as He was with the religious Jewish Rabbi Nicodemus. Jesus’ love and salvation is for everyone. He healed the ten lepers, and the one who returned to Him to give thanks was a Samaritan! Jesus also told the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:30-37.  Jesus loved, saved and healed the Samaritans as well as the Jews. He is the Savior of all.
           Because Jesus is all-knowing, He knew His purpose in going into Samaria and to this particular well. He also knew the exact hour that this Samaritan woman would be at the well. She is the reason Jesus had to come to Samaria. He saw the needs of her heart and counted her worthy of His time, His love and His salvation. Normally the women would come to draw water at dusk when it was cooler, but this woman came to the well in the heat of the day to avoid those who shunned and rejected her because of her adulterous, sinful life.
    Drawing water was not an easy task for a woman. She would carry a large, empty earthen vessel on her shoulder for miles and a rope to let the jar down into the well to fill it with water. After the earthen vessel is filled with water, she would carry this heavy vessel back to her home for her family. Her journey home could be miles from the well making it burdensome, but her love for her family motivated her. All-knowing Jesus knew that she would serve Him because He knew her heart just as He knows the hearts of every man, woman and child. Jesus chose this woman before He ever met her, just as He chooses everyone who believes in Him. This sinful, Samaritan woman will draw water from the well to share with Jesus. Jesus wants those who love and serve Him to draw water from the well of His salvation, Holy Spirit and Word and share it with others. He can take the most wretched sinner and turn him or her into a vessel filled with the water of His Word and Spirit and use that believer to reach thousands and even millions for Him so that they too will have eternal life. Love for Jesus and others must be our motivation.
         (Next week:  Living Water and the Water Pouring Ceremony at the Feast of Tabernacles)

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