Jesus and the Samaritan Woman (2)
Living Water (Wisdom) – John 4:10
Jesus promises the woman a spiritual drink (fresh and pure water that will quench her Spiritual thirst forever). By this, living water is meant for the Spirit. Under this comparison, the blessing of the Messiah had been promised in the Old Testament. The graces of the Spirit, and His comforts, satisfy the thirsting soul that knows its nature and necessity. What Jesus says figuratively, she took literally. Christ shows that the water of Jacob’s Well yielded a very short satisfaction. Of whatever waters of comfort we drink, we shall thirst again. But whoever partakes of the Spirit of grace and the comforts of the Gospel shall never want that which will abundantly satisfy his soul. Carnal hearts look no higher than carnal ends. Give it to me, saith she, not that I may have everlasting life, which Christ proposed, but that I come not hither to draw. The carnal mind is ingenious in shifting off convictions and keeping them from fastening. But how closely our Lord Jesus brings home the conviction to her conscience! He severely reproved her present state of life. The woman acknowledged Christ to be a prophet. The power of His Word in searching the heart, and convincing the conscience of secret things, is proof of Divine authority. It should cool our contests to think that the things we strive for are passing away.
Location and Mode of Worship
A critical factor in the Jews-Samaritans’ animosity was the issue of the place of worship. The Jews started rebuilding the temple in Jerusalem after the exile from Babylonia, rejecting the input of the Samaritans, apparently on ethnoreligious grounds. The Samaritans built their temple at Mt. Gerizim in opposition to that of Jerusalem; this temple was destroyed by the Maccabean king John Hyrcanus in about 128 b. C. E.[viii] The Jews excluded the Samaritans from the Jerusalem worship. However, Jesus pointed out the reality that the spiritual Jerusalem, where people worship in Spirit and truth. [ix] The Samaritans also rejected the writings of the prophets, Psalms, and historical books; they accepted only the Pentateuch[x] and had their scriptures different from that of the Jews. There is a similarity to the Muslims that accept part of the Old Testament, inserted in their Qu’aran and reject the New Testament. They also uphold their scriptures called “the holy Quran.”
Even so, Samaritans continued to worship in their temple on Mount Gezarim — in the land of Jacob, home of their ancestors— as seemed proper to them (Jn 4:19–20). Jesus made it clear that the location of worship does not matter but the mode of worship. In John 4:23-24, Jesus clearly states, “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshippers will worship the Father in Spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshippers the Father seeks. God is Spirit, and His worshippers must worship in Spirit and truth.” Reason teaches us to consult decency and convenience in our worship places. Still, religion gives no preference to one place above another in respect of holiness and approval with God. By the Scriptures, those who have obtained knowledge of God know whom they worship. The word of salvation was of the Jews, and it came to other nations through them.
Christ justly preferred the Jewish worship before the Samaritan, yet here he speaks of the former as soon to be done away. God was about to be revealed as the Father of all believers in every nation. As influenced by the Holy Spirit, the Spirit or the soul of man must worship God and have communion with him. As shown in fervent prayers, supplications, and thanksgiving, spiritual affections form the worship of an upright heart, in which God delights and is glorified. The woman was disposed to leave the matter undecided until the coming of the Messiah. But Christ told her, I that speak to thee am He. Our Lord revealed Himself to the Samaritan woman more fully than he had done to any of his disciples. No past sins can bar our acceptance of him if we humble ourselves before him, believing in him as Christ, the world’s Savior. (Jn 4:27-42). The object of worship will continue the same, God, as a Father, but an end shall be put to all differences about the place of worship.
Karris[xi] said the Greek word menein, meaning ‘to stay,’ has more than a theological meaning in John’s Gospel, which can be translated as ‘to dwell.’ Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman began an interpersonal relationship based on mutual trust and openness. It is the same relationship Jesus advocated and called us to establish with other people despite the differences in ethnicity, religion, and barriers. Dialogue is a two-way communication and is not just a rational consensus but the emergence of a community of love. Dialogue enables those involved to understand their different standpoints, perceive the value of each other’s traditions, and appreciate them, which opens up an exploration of new areas of reality and truth. Streng[xii] said, “to understand another person requires not abstract analysis but human encounter – emerging from the dept of another person’s life in dialogue.” Jesus showed the way out in the dialogue with the Samaritan woman; if imbibed, it can bring peace to the world.
Jesus proves the Gospel is for everyone, regardless of race, social position, or past sins. Jesus’ true mission on earth is to save sinners. Jesus proclaims He is the way, the truth, and the life. He tells the Samaritan woman about the Spiritual harvest. Jesus cares for her soul to be saved and speaks to her at the Well. This woman is ultimately used to reach out to other lost souls and convert many of the Samaritans. [xiii] Jesus reveals that God the Father seeks worshippers that will worship Him in truth and Spirit [xiv].
- [viii] Peter F. Ellis, The Genius of John: A Composition-Critical Commentary of the Fourth Gospel
- (Collegeville, Minnesota: The Liturgical Press, 1984), 69.
- [ix] Efren, Rivera, Key Words in Christian Living (Manila, Salesian Publishers inc., 1990), 8.
- [x] Lucius, Nerepambil, “Jesus and the Nations,” Jeevadhara 14/80, 1984, 147.
- [xi] Robert J., Karris, Jesus and the Marginalized in John’s Gospel, (Collegeville, Minnesota:
- Liturgical Press, 1990), 69.
- [xii] Frederick, Streng, Understanding Religious Life, 3rd edition cited in E. S. Idowu, “Faith in
- Interaction”, ORITA, 1985, p. 55
- [xiii] John 4:39
- [xiv] John 4:24.
Jesus and the Samaritan Woman (1)
Text: John 4:1-45
Jesus’ theology was misinterpreted or not understood, bringing many conflicts between the Jewish Rabbis and Jesus Christ. His core theology is hinged on peace, justice, and holiness. Samaritans are mixed races and mixed cultures. After the northern kingdom, with its capital in Samaria, fell to the Assyrians, many Jews were deported to Assyria, and foreigners were in to settle in Jews’ land and to keep the peace. (2 Kings 17:24). The intermarriage between the foreigners and remaining Jews resulted in a mixed-race, impure, in the opinion of Jews who lived in the southern kingdom. The Jews did everything they could to avoid traveling through Samaria. Jesus did not live through those cultural restrictions. The route through Samaria was shorter, so he took it. The Jews hold in contempt the Samaritans. Samaritans are despised groups because they are half-Jews. The Jews believe they are the only righteous group in the world. The Jews also hold that a woman might be divorced twice or, at the most, three times; one is not sure if the Samaritans hold this same standard. There are cultural, racial, and religious differences between the Jews and the Samaritans.
The Samaritan woman’s issues are:
- a member of the hated mixed-race
- known to be living in sin
- Presence in a public place (the Well)
- And with five husbands, the life of the Samaritan woman at the Well has been exceedingly immoral and decadent.
Therefore, no respectable Jewish man will talk to such a woman under those circumstances, but Jesus did.
- What is the Dialogue in John 4: 1-45 concerning Broken Barriers and Conflict Resolution?
- What did Jesus mean by “Living Water”?
- Which is more important, the location or mode of worship?
The Dialogue – Jesus and the Samaritan Woman
Jesus was gender-friendly and associated with sinners, tax collectors, and the marginalized in society. His action was a departure from the ‘so-called’ pious Jew’s behavior, especially the Pharisees. Still, in doing this, Jesus showed a great example of unifying people, reconciling ethnoreligious, and eliminating barriers.
The Samaritan woman raised two questions with Jesus:
- why is he speaking with a Samaritan, and
- why is he speaking with a Samaritan woman?
Jews and Samaritans were bitter enemies (Jn 4:9), and any interaction between the two groups would be heavily charged by the geographic, ethnic, and religious barriers that divided them. It would be naive to think that the relationship between Jews and Samaritans was one of polite disagreement. The Samaritan experience was oppression by the Jews, marked by discrimination and violence against their people.
Jewish rabbinic laws were stringent on two critical matters:
- Jewish men were not to have public and open contact with women, and
- Jewish rabbis considered Samaritan women to be “menstruants from their cradle” and therefore perpetually unclean.
Jewish rabbis condemned all Samaritans to be tainted by that same standard because men were in contact with impure women, and their “purity rules could not be guaranteed.” “He who talks much with womankind brings evil on himself. He neglects the study of the Law and, at last, will inherit Gehenna.” If speaking with a woman can cast one into Gehenna, how much more will be drinking from the same cup? According to Jewish rules, “The spittle of a menstruant was contaminating to a very high degree.” So, in John 4:1–42, Jesus is doing much more than asking for a glass of water from a stranger — He is boldly breaking Jewish taboos with a purpose. As theologian David Daube articulates, “By asking the woman to give him to drink, Jesus showed himself ready to disregard that hostile presumption respecting Samaritan women.
The dialogue between Jesus and the Samaritan woman is one of the acceptable models for breaking barriers or resolving conflicts. This kind of exchange is based on mutual respect, trust, understanding, and acceptance of the parties involved in the dialogue. In John 4:5-29, Jesus sets an example by initiating a conversation with a marginalized, persecuted, discriminated, despised, rejected, unloved, and a non-person in the eyes of the Jews (v.9); and a woman of different ethnic background. Jesus did not allow over 400 years of hate [i] to put a barrier between him and the Samaritan woman. Jesus – Samaritan woman’s model can be viewed in our present society engulfed in confrontations due to ethnic, religious, and political hostilities. Jesus bridged the dividing line of hostilities and broke down the wall of prejudices that separated the Jews and the Samaritans. He did this by asking the woman to give him a drink – hospitality (v.7). The prejudices of sex and nation were broken down by this first teaching beyond the limit of the chosen people[ii]. It was unthinkable for a Jew to talk to a Samaritan, let alone a woman, as exhibited in the disciples’ reaction when they saw Jesus. In this particular encounter, Jesus’ Jewish’ origin is essential for developing this dialogue[iii]. Jesus led the woman to a deeper level of understanding by using her past, feelings, and psychological thoughts to win her over.
The purpose and context of this dialogue were summed up in v.10, “the giver of life and the Savior of the world” [iv]. Jesus’ foreknowledge manifested profound thoughts in the woman. Kinast said in dialogue that “honesty, respect, and willingness to share one’s views relying on the intrinsic value” [v]. The message of Jesus envisages the possibility of going beyond all people-made boundaries and acknowledging a metaphysical reality of communion in which all people are children of God, the same Father, and our brothers and sisters among themselves. [vi] Jesus broke down the walls of religious and social separation between the Jews and Samaritans, setting an example for reconciliation in modern-day ethnoreligious barriers and conflicts.
The divine knowledge of Jesus Christ in the Samaritan woman’s private life confirmed Him as the expected Messiah, which she shared with others. Hendrickx[vii] asserted that the universality of Christ’s mission was revealed in the Samaritan woman. Jesus accepted the outcasts and the marginalized people.
- [i] Frederick, Herzog, Liberation Theology: Liberation in the light of the fourth Gospel, (New York: the Seabury Press, 1972), 72.
- [ii] B. T., Westcott, The Gospel According to St. John, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: W. B. Eerdmans
- Publishing Company, 1976)
- [iii] Francis J., Moloney, Belief in the World, Reading the Fourth Gospel: John 1-4 (Minneapolis:
- Minnesota, Fortress Press, 1995), 139.
- [iv] Peter F., Ellis, The Genius of John: A composition-critical commentary of the fourth Gospel
- (Collegeville, Minnesota, The Liturgical Press, 1984), 72.
- [v] Robert L., Kinast, If only you recognized God’s Gift: John’s Gospel as an illustration of Theological
- Reflection, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: W. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1993), 68.
- [vi] Lucius, Nerepambil, “Jesus and the Nations,” Jeevadhara 14/80, 1984, 147.
- [vii] Herman, Hendrickx, The Fourth Gospel, (Manila, Phil. 198), 140.
Dialectic Sermon: I Know why the Caged Bird Sings Versus Luke 1:39-55 (3) – Final
Text 1: I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings By Maya Angelou
Text 2: Luke 1:39 -55
Antithesis 1: Human Pride
Pride is refusing to accept God’s gifts or taking credit for what God has done.
Humility is accepting the gifts and using them to praise and serve God.
God promised Abraham to be merciful to God’s people forever (Genesis 22: 16-18). Christ’s birth fulfilled this promise, and Mary understood.
The caged bird experiences Colonialism, imperialism, heterosexism, materialism, sexism, classism, and racism; All are noises of oppression that people face today in a grossly unjust societal context that lacks the proclamation of the anointed sound. It is no secret that the Political Economy orchestrates oppression. The noises of oppression are unpleasant and annoying. Sadly, the caged birds have forgotten their vows of solidarity and servitude. They are no longer instrumental but sounding brass and tinkling symbols temporarily misplaced melodies of justice, chords of peace, and the harmony of equality. The defenseless, denounced, discounted, dismantled, and discredited need our symphonic prayers and actions.
The current state of affairs allows us to be isolated, criticized, demoralized and dehumanized under the tyranny of systemic pharaohs. Particularly for black and brown people, we have succumbed to the fret noise of sex trafficking and organ harvesting (among other threats such as forced labor, inadequate housing, and healthcare). We are plagued with nooses strategically camouflaged by police (the klan in blue), politricks, prestige, poverty, power, and prejudice. We listen to the mumbled, muted, and muffled chaos of an immoral political and economic social structure that turns a deaf ear, thus, growing more unjust with each passing day.
In his book “A Colony in a Nation,” Chris Hayes describes a “nation” of white Americans who see in themselves complete individuality except in one way: They are an organic part of the national body. The “colony” is the imported other, the virus that exists inside the American body but is not of it, and it is viewed solely as a collective. The colony’s members have no individual traits, and they are an amorphous menace, and the nation regularly acts to police the colony and contain it. By depicting the colony as collectively violent, criminal, and scary, it can be removed at any time — with those learned stereotypes as justification and with the police as allies in keeping the colony under control. To be white in America is to assume, with total self-confidence and little afterthought, the personal ownership of public spaces. To be white in America is to have the confidence to say, without a second thought: this space, this neighborhood, this city, this county, this country is mine.
Denying, belittling, or ignoring your gifts instead of thanking God for them and using them for His Glory.
The corruption and exploitation of authority and elites in society dehumanize humans. The anointed sound only breaks the walls of corruption, exploitation, and dehumanization. The decibels of the sound should be so anointed that liberating the oppressed, releasing the captives—breaking the division of the walls between rich and poor, between men and women.
The sound of liberation will center on a conversion to the neighbor, the oppressed person, the exploited social class, the despised ethnic group, and the dominated country. Our call is to commit ourselves lucidly, realistically, and concretely to the liberation of the poor and oppressed. Anointed signifies one being tuned for the undertaking and called to it. It is time to drive out the unjust structures in the community and construct the socio-politico-economic corruption and exploitation in the nation. Our sound is our commitment to the oppressed, their struggle for liberation, and the down social barriers encrusted in customs and traditions and entrenched in social structures. Our sound is the chorus to those treated as non-persons: the poor and deprived, the outcast and the marginalized, the oppressed and the downtrodden, the sick, and those who do not count like children and women.
Spirituality of liberation will center on a conversion to the neighbor, the oppressed person, the exploited social class, the despised ethnic group, and the dominated country. Our sound of liberation should empower those oppressed by systematic structures in our society and labor to eliminate those cultural and social policies of corruption, exploitation, and dehumanization which cause oppression. The anointed sound should sing of Jesus that the psalmist declared the syllables were melodic to the hearing. The clarion song is:
Verse 1– we sound the alarm of spiritual, social, and political redemption to the poor and the disdained who are spoken of with contempt, constrained by the bonds of guilt and corruption, the unfair distribution of power and unequal resources, and denial of opportunities.
Verse 2– we proclaim the release of political captivity. There is a release from the noise of bondage, from the capitalistic prison of lack and not enough.
Verse 3– we apply the salve of redemption for vision. There is recovery from the figuratively and blinded eye closed to the maltreatment of others. We comprehend that where there is no vision, the people perish. We give action to our vision so that our words become verbs. We cancel the noise of discrimination against the disabled, disadvantaged, and disenfranchised. And we say receive your insight and foresight.
And together I sing because I’m happy
I sing because I’m free
His eye is on the sparrow
And I know He watches me (He watches me)
His eye is on the sparrow
And I know He watches
I know He watches
I know He watches me
For I’m Chained to His will
Tied to His word
He has my life
I’m a prisoner of Christ
The cadences of Mary’s canticle call into question any traditional silencing of women’s voices, whether in scripture or throughout the tradition. Mary’s song is the prayer of a poor woman. The term for lowliness in Greek describes misery, pain, persecution, and oppression. Mary’s low-down self-characterization is not a metaphor for spiritual humility but is based on her social position. A young female, a member of a people subjected to economic exploitation by powerful rulers and afflicted by outbreaks of violence, she belongs to the poor. The second part of the Magnificat articulates the tremendous biblical theme of reversal, where lowly groups are defended by God while the arrogant end up losers. Proclaiming her song, Mary continues this deep stream of Jewish faith in the context of the advent of the Messiah, now taking shape within her.
The approaching reign of God will disturb the order of the world run by the hard of heart, the oppressor. Through God’s action, the social hierarchy of wealth and poverty, power and subjugation, is to be turned upside down. All will be well because God’s mercy, pledged in covenant love, is faithful through every generation. Rooted in the biblical heritage of Palestinian Jewish society, this is a revolutionary song of salvation whose concrete social, economic, and political dimensions cannot be blunted. People are hungry because triple taxes are exacted for Rome, the local government, and the temple. The lowly are crushed by the mighty on the thrones in Rome and their deputies in the provinces. Now, with the nearness of the messianic age, a new social justice order is at hand. Mary’s canticle praises God for the kind of salvation that involves concrete transformations.
Historically, women have played vital roles in biblical history, the proclamation of the Gospel, and the establishment and growth of churches. Yet they play second fiddle in the top leadership of some churches, at best, being second to men. Despite decades of human rights agitations and resolutions to protect women’s rights, gender policies still expose them to stressful working conditions, economic deprivations, and political/religious discrimination. They are often victims of terrorism that have led to the death of their husbands and children or displaced their families. The principle of human rights is universal and the foundation of international human rights law. This principle was first emphasized in 1948 in the Universal Declaration on Human Rights and has since been echoed in numerous international human rights conventions, declarations, and resolutions.
The 1993 Vienna world conference affirmed the promotion and protection of all human rights and fundamental freedoms regardless of political, economic, and cultural systems. Biblical perspective on human rights is accentuated in the book of Genesis, Chapter One: Male and Female, God created human beings as equal partners.  Women’s history – economically, politically, and religious includes the study of the history of the growth (or decline) of women’s rights throughout recorded history. The millennium development goals summit in 2010 stated, “investing in women and girls has a multiplier effect on productivity, efficiency and sustained economic growth.” The world bank, at different forums, has shown that increasing women’s access to quality education, good jobs, land, and other resources contributes to inclusive growth, sustainable development, and long-term prosperity.
-  The “battle of Gender” is disobedience to the Will of God, as revealed in the Bible. The Bible teaches the full equality of males and females in the church, in the home, as well as in the general society through mutual respect and submission, e.g., Galatians 5:13, Romans 12:10. The Genesis creation accounts show that both male and female were created in the image and likeness of God, and were given the equal mandate to fill the earth and take responsibility for the rest of the earth – Genesis 1:26-28; Genesis 1 and 2