The account of Jesus and the Samaritan woman in the Gospel of John has been much studied and preached on, yet I was given some clarity recently on how to apply the message to my life. Historically, the Jews, Israelites who had settled in the southern kingdom of Judea of the tribe of Judah and some of the tribe of Benjamin, did not associate with Samaritans who settled in the northern kingdom of Israel, south of Galilee. Both groups brought back different ideas upon return from Babylonian captivity. Jews held that Samaritans practiced idolatry in some forms, which they picked up while in Babylon and by intermarrying with people who were brought in to settle the land of Israel in their place. A significant point in the difference of their worship is the location of the holy place. That is the cultural/religious context in brief.
The account is found in John chapter 4.
Jesus is passing through Samaria with his disciples from Judea (south) to Galilee (north). He stops at Jacob's well near Sychar, where He meets a Samaritan woman. He offers her living water (vs. 7-15); prophesies about her (vs. 16-19); tells her the marks of a true worshipper (vs. 20-24); and tells her that He is the Messiah (vs. 25-26).
**Up to this point, Jesus has made it clear that His salvation is for all who will worship in spirit and truth**
It is not about the place (Mt. Gerizim vs. Jerusalem) and therefore the identity (Samaritan vs. Jew), tied to particular religious traditions, of the worshipper.
vs. 27-30…the woman tells everyone about Jesus and they are coming to Him. The disciples had just gotten back from buying food in the city. (Observing their mindset…they just thought they were passing through Samaria—they thought there is no ministry to be done here among those they don’t associate with).
vs. 31-34…Jesus has food the disciples don’t know about—doing the will of God and accomplishing His work
vs. 35-36…The harvest is here and now—fruit for life eternal. Reapers receiving wages
vs. 37-38…disciples have reaped the fruit of others’ labor, now they are to enter into the same labor (*what is the labor?)
vs. 39-41…Jesus stays for two days and many Samaritans believe “because of His word.” Jesus is “The Word” (John 1) of eternal life. The disciples have received that word, now they should be sharing it with anyone, anywhere at all times…Mark 16:14-20 gives a correlating message--"Go into the world and preach the gospel to all creation...they preached the gospel everywhere, while the Lord worked with them."
Followers of Jesus should be sharing with all who will listen—led by the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:1-8)..."You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth."
This is going to require me to:
Thus says the Lord, “Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; 24 but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,” declares the Lord.
25 “Behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord, “that I will punish all who are circumcised and yet uncircumcised— 26 Egypt and Judah, and Edom and the sons of Ammon, and Moab and all those inhabiting the desert who clip the hair on their temples; for all the nations are uncircumcised, and all the house of Israel are uncircumcised of heart.”
I can’t by my wisdom, strength or riches please God. I have to apply my heart to understanding and knowing the Lord (Not going after anything else).
What I am coming to is an understanding that God is in control.
Restatement: I should boast that the loving, just, righteous LORD is indeed in control!**
**The problem is that I like to be in control of my own life—even others’ lives. A couple examples of this presented themselves this past week in my daily life. One was me experiencing frustration in my classroom because what I had planned for a couple classes went really poorly, due in large part to some students’ poor behavior. I was focused on controlling those students rather than loving them and understanding their situations. Another was driving up to Michigan on Friday. Allison was driving and I was a restless passenger, due to my different approach to driving (tends to be faster).
Proverbs 16:1-9 presents several examples which resonate with my desire to be in control of my life. The overarching theme is that no matter what one plans or does, he cannot escape the fact that God is in control.
In order to operate in God’s love, justice, and righteousness, I need to relinquish ALL control. (This is to be “circumcised of heart” as Jeremiah says)
Some specific ways I am called to do this:
1) Let go of my plans so I can embrace compassion.
2) Let go of my power to do things the way I want (like driving the car).
—Galatians 5:16-26—Walk by the Spirit. The flesh wants to be in control apart from God—hence all the selfish “deeds” described. The Spirit is giving and completely selfless
—Zechariah 4:6…Zerubbabel was the Governor of Judea after the return of the Jews from Babylonian captivity. Their task was to figure out how to rebuild the temple and re-establish themselves in their land. God reminds the people through His prophet to rely on supernatural power—the Spirit—in order to do everything as He sees fit.
3) Letting go of anything I own—including my life
—John 15:12-13. To carry out Jesus’ command to love one another, we have to be willing to lay down our lives
—Romans 12:1-2. A daily experience of presenting my full self to God—Lord do as you please!
Psalm 46:10--God will be exalted—just take refuge in Him
1 Peter 5:6-11—We who humble ourselves will be exalted by Him. Peter reminds us we have to resist the devil, who will tempt us by telling us we have something within ourselves to boast in. The way to be perfected, confirmed, strengthened and established is to trust that the Lord will do it. He cares for us, so we can be confident of His promise.
This is the blog of Tyler Shepard, the Associate Pastor for Centre Union Church in Yeagertown, PA.
I hope you are encouraged and challenged to walk more closely with Jesus Christ!