“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).
When Assyria carried away the northern kingdom of Israel in 722 BC, not every citizen was taken. Many remaining Israelites married into the people whom the king of Assyria resettled in the area (2 Kings 17; 2 Chron. 30:10–12). Because of this, many new identities emerged. Also, Jewish authorities who tried to quash the influence of Greek culture in Judea during the intertestamental period prompted its sympathizers to flee to Samaria, the area that had been resettled by Assyria.
The majority of Jews were essentially racist toward Samaritan society because of its religious practices and ethnic descent. Many of them saw the Samaritans as renegades, for they received only the Pentateuch into their canon and worshiped on Mount Gerizim instead of Mount Zion. In fact, when the Jews journeyed between Judea and Galilee during the first century, most would not take the direct route through Samaria but would instead take a circuitous detour around this “unclean” region.
This background explains why the Samaritan woman was surprised when Jesus asked her for a drink of water (John 4:7–9). For a Jewish rabbi to accept a drink from a Samaritan woman, much less speak to her, would have been unthinkable. Not surprisingly, after the woman expresses amazement at this, Jesus responds to her question with a few words about His identity (v. 10).
An idolater who served physical pleasure (she was an adulteress, vv. 16–19), the woman is unaware at first of the meaning of Jesus’ words. She focuses first on physical thirst (v. 15), and then on worship after He calls her out on her sinful lifestyle (vv. 16–20). Yet Jesus does not grow impatient with her, He continually brings the focus back to Himself as the source of living water and as the one who will expand true worship into all nations (vv. 14, 21–26).
No liquid can forever satisfy our physical thirst, but Jesus will quench the spiritual thirst of all who repent, obey His lordship, and thereby drink of Him (John 4:13–14). And so the Samaritan woman was thus satisfied when grace found her, and she became an integral witness to the fact that Jesus really is the Savior of the world (John 4:39–42).
Leaving the Well, Leading the Way
By Misty Wilson, 1.cbn.com
“Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” (John 4:39)
The story of the Samaritan woman at the well has to be one of my all time favorites. There is so very much that we can learn from this passage of scripture. One of the most overlooked lessons we can learn from this woman is the impact she had on her own community. She left the well that day a new woman. She had sipped from the wellspring . . . living water. She had met the Christ.
I can almost imagine how refreshed her face must have appeared to all of the people. If you study this scripture, the people immediately responded to what she said by going out of the town and making their way toward Jesus (verse 30). The Woman at the Well made her neighbors, her community a priority and led them to Jesus.
Many times we hurry through our lives missing the great opportunity to minister to our own neighbors in our own communities. It is so sad that our communities of long ago are disappearing. Neighbors rarely even know each other, much less share in each others lives. Webster’s dictionary defines share as “to partake of, use, experience, or enjoy with others.” Sharing our lives with others is a great way to minister. The word “minister” seems so stuffy and preachy (if that is even a word) sometimes. The truth is that ministry begins with sharing our lives with others.
My family and I recently moved to a new town with all new faces. We did not know anyone except our real estate agent! The first few months were very tough sometimes, and often very lonely. God placed some “ministers” in my path. He sent people who opened up their hearts, their lives, and their community to me and my little family. These new friends did not have to preach to me or even discuss church, they ministered to me by sharing. They shared tips on doctors, restaurants, garbage pick up days, community events, lawn service, and school information. These people, this community, appeared refreshed to me . . . just like the Woman at the Well. These people have impacted me, their neighbor. I have no doubt that these same people have shared the love of God through their simple actions many, many times. They have all chosen to make their neighbors, their community a priority. I praise God for them!
Do you know your neighbors? Just start by saying “hi!” The Woman at the Well was so touched by Christ that she impacted an entire town. You can too. You don’t have to say a word. They will see it in your face and experience it as you decide to share a little of your life with them. Reach out today in some little way to the community around you and watch as that “Living Water” begins to flow all around you!
Streams In The Desert
By: L.B. Cowman
I have all, and abound (Phil. 4:18).
In one of my garden books there is a chapter with a very interesting heading, “Flowers that Grow in the Gloom.” It deals with those patches in a garden which never catch the sunlight. And my guide tells me the sort of flowers which are not afraid of these dingy corners–may rather like them and flourish in them.
And there are similar things in the world of the spirit. They come out when material circumstances become stern and severe. They grow in the gloom. How can we otherwise explain some of the experiences of the Apostle Paul?
Here he is in captivity at Rome. The supreme mission of his life appears to be broken. But it is just in this besetting dinginess that flowers begin to show their faces in bright and fascinating glory. He may have seen them before, growing in the open road, but never as they now appeared in incomparable strength and beauty. Words of promise opened out their treasures as he had never seen them before.
Among those treasures were such wonderful things as the grace of Christ, the love of Christ, the joy and peace of Christ; and it seemed as though they needed an “encircling gloom” to draw out their secret and their inner glory. At any rate the realm of gloom became the home of revelation, and Paul began to realize as never before the range and wealth of his spiritual inheritance.
Who has not known men and women who, when they arrive at seasons of gloom and solitude, put on strength and hopefulness like a robe? You may imprison such folk where you please; but you shut up their treasure with them. You cannot shut it out. You may make their material lot a desert, but “the wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad, and the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose.”
“Every flower, even the fairest, has its shadow beneath it as it basks in the sunlight.”
Where there is much light there is also much shade.