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.