Lesson 23: Jesus Traveled Through Samaria
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A Blending of The Four Gospel Records.
Welcome again to our study. This is lesson # 23. At the close of our last lesson we read the first three verses in John ch. 4. Jesus left Judea after he knew about the attitude of the Pharisees. In this lesson we would like to cover Jesus' trip back into Galilee, possibly one of the richest, Norman Rockwell sort of pictures, in the whole N.T.
Let's read John 4:4-5-6. Are you ready? Let's read. "And he must needs go through Samaria. Then cometh he to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Now Jacob's well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well: and it was about the sixth hour." O.K. Sychar is city # 11 on your MAP WORKSHEET. Samaria is the territory between Judea and Galilee. Sychar was about 40 miles north of Jerusalem, just right on down the ridge-top between Jerusalem and Nazareth. Thus, John's point in v.4 is obvious; I think you can see from your map. Although, there was another route that was commonly traveled from Galilee to Jerusalem on the east side of the Jordan; we'll discover this later. In v.5, the apostle John identifies this location by relating it to O.T. history. The reference is in Gen. 33:19 if you should be interested enough to read it. Jacob and Joseph lived about 17-18 centuries before Jesus. Yet, I'm told that Jacob's well is still a tourist attraction even today. Halley's Handbook says the well is 100 feet deep and 9 feet in diameter. He further says (and I quote:) "It is one of the few places where an exact spot connected with the story of Jesus can be identified." (unquote). Try to do a Norman Rockwell, imagine you have your easel set up and a good supply of paint. Draw v.6! Jesus sitting there weary from his journey, resting on the well, with the village of Sychar in the background and the sun directly overhead. Have you got the picture? As we read v7-19, try to put this on your easel. Let's read.
"There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink. (For his disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat.) Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, asketh drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealing with the Samaritans. Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me a drink; thou wouldst have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water. The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water? Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank therefore himself, and his children, and his cattle? Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life. The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw. Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither. The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband: For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in this saidst thou truly. The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet."
O.K. let's stop right there and do a little revamp. There was much prejudice between the Jews and the Samaritans. To quote an old cliche, they wouldn't give each other the time of day. Actually, they were distant relatives and their prejudice had grown out of their religious background. Something like a thousand years before that day that Jesus sat on the well. After the time of Solomon in the O.T. the Israelite nation split, with ten tribes against two. The territory here called Samaria was THEN known as Ephraim; named for one of the sons of Joseph, who was given that parcel of land with the well up in v.5. The ten tribes in the northern part became known, collectively, as the northern kingdom or simply Israel. The two tribes in the south (Benjamin and Judah) ultimately became known as Judah. In 722 B.C. the Assyrians from the north invaded and carried away the 10 northern tribes of Israel. They never recovered from captivity. The Assyrians colonized that territory here called Samaria and re-peopled it with Babylonians. The few Jews remaining inter-married with the emigrants that came in and produced a half-breed race of people here called the Samaritans. A little over a hundred years later the two southern tribes called Judah were taken into Babylonian captivity, starting about 606 B.C. and spent 70 years in Babylon. But these two southern tribes of Jews finally gained political release and many of them returned to Judea. So, Judah maintained her identify through all of this; WHEREAS the northern kingdom disappeared forever. These things are recorded in the O.T. books of Ezra and Nehemiah, just in case you want to do a little reading. The Samaritans more or less started their own religion. They used the Pentateuch, i.e. the first five book of the O.T. to build their religion. So, the Samaritans used Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy; but they rejected the prophets in the later half of the O.T. Thus, the Samaritans were a sort of denomination of the Jews, if that makes sense. Now, a good question that has probably already occurred to you is: How did Jesus, the Saviour of the world, look upon this arrangement? Did you pick-up on John’s statement at the end of v.9? "the Jews have no dealing with the Samaritans." Now, when John said "dealing", he obviously meant socially and religiously. That did not include business because the disciples had gone (at that moment) into the village of Sychar to buy meat; and they got it. So, that stuff called money is usually acceptable where religion and social customs are not. AND, don't ever forget that!
The woman was shocked that Jesus tried to engage here in a religious discussion. You see, there was apparently enough difference in their dress, features, skin pigmentation, etc., to spot each other with clear identification. Now, let's get that dialogue in good sharp focus. Put your eyes on v.7 and let's try to reproduce this conversation [Jesus] "Give me to drink."
[S. Woman] "How is it that thou, being a Jew, asketh drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria?
[Jesus] "If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me a drink; thou wouldst have asked him, and he would have given thee living water."
[S. Woman] "Sir, thou hath nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water? Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle?
[Jesus] "Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: but whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life."
[S. Woman] "Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw."
[Jesus] "Go, call thy husband, and come hither."
[S. Woman] "I have no husband."
[Jesus] "Thou hast well said, I have no husband: for thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that, saidst thou truly."
[S. Woman] "Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet. Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship."
[Jesus] "Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship; for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth; for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
[S. Woman] "I know that Messiah cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things.
[Jesus] "I that speak unto thee am he."
Alright! That takes us down through v.26, Let's read v.27-30 while we're here, "And upon this came his disciples, and marveled that he talked with the woman: yet no man said, What seekest thou? or, Why talkest thou with her? The woman then left her waterpot, and went her way into the city, and saith to the men, [S. Woman] "Come, see the man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?" "Then they went out of the city, and came unto him."
O.K. whether Jesus got the drink of water or not, I'm not sure. But, since she got so excited she left here water pot, I assume he helped himself. Now, John did a pause here and gave a little dialogue between Jesus and his disciples while the Samaritans were coming out of the city. But before we get into that dialogue; let's go back up and rehash a little. It's obvious that this poor peasant woman was a lowly; but humble sinner. She undoubtedly thought that Jesus was a lonely Jew with no equipment for drawing up the water and had to swallow his pride and beg her for a drink. But, as the conversation progressed she was led to a much higher opinion of Jesus. She was a little slow to pick up on the spiritual or figurative flavor that Jesus gave the conversation. And even when she did, she was a little like Nicodemus; she at first, tried to divert the conversation when it got close to her personally. When Jesus requested that she go get her husband, she tried to skirt the issue. But when Jesus injected a little supernatural information she became intensely curious. She sensed that Jesus was NOT just an ordinary man. Sir, you must be a prophet. The Samaritans had built a temple on Mt. Gerizim close to this town of Sychar; and in here worship there she had undoubtedly heard of the O.T. prophets even though they were not accepted by her people. But she made the association immediately. And no doubt the issue she brought up, about PLACE OF WORSHIP in v.20 was an old stock and trade question that she had heard over and over, cussed and discussed; a little like instrumental music in worship in our day. It was natural for her, like most people today, to wade into some great distracting question they think you can't answer and try to SNOW-YOU while they stand on the sideline and watch you wrestle with it. AND, when you give them the Bible answer, they try to frustrate it in some way or another. But, the nature of Jesus (we were told back in John 2:25) was such that he KNEW her thinking. So, Jesus cut through all that controversy by pointing out THAT regardless of what God HAD required in the past; in the immediate future the requirement of PLACE would be changed and the important requirement, THEN, would be the SPIRIT of worship. Thus, in these verses (22-23-24), Jesus gave a brief description of the difference in O.T. worship and N.T. worship. Now, don't miss this element of IMMEDIATE FUTURE. John the Baptist had preached, "The kingdom of heaven is at hand." i.e. in the immediate future. Jesus and John had both stressed the urgency of what was in the immediate future to them, the coming kingdom. The same thing that Nicodemus was curious about. And, naturally as Jesus began to talk about the future it brought to this peasant woman's mind the coming Messiah (v.25) which, incidentally, is taught in the Pentateuch as well as the O.T. prophets.
Now, it's important for us to see: Jesus DID NOT concede that the Samaritan worship was all right. As a matter of fact, v.22 is another way of saying the Samaritans were worshipping ignorantly. And Jesus classified the Samaritans with the Gentiles in Matt. 10:5 and other places. Yet, the very fact that Jesus here sought to teach these Samaritan-Gentiles shows that THAT coming kingdom included more than the Jews only. And, of course that's the big reason that John included this in his record. Then in v.26, Jesus told this woman, straight-out, that he was the Messiah. Perhaps the most direct statement of this fact, by Jesus himself, found in the whole N.T.
O.K. let's get back to that dialogue between Jesus and his disciples in v.31-38, let's read. V.31, ready? "In the mean while his disciples prayed him, saying, Master eat. But he said unto them, I have meat to eat that ye know not of. Therefore said the disciples one to another, Hath any man brought him aught to eat? Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work. Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest. And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together. And herein is that saying true, One soweth, and another reapeth. I sent you to reap THAT whereupon ye bestowed no labor: other men labored, and ye are entered into their labors." Jesus saw the Samaritans as a ripe grain field ready for harvest. They would soon be entering the kingdom like wheat pouring into a grain bin. When the woman made the announcement in Sychar and said: Come and see, v.29, apparently the people began to pour out of the city. Can you visualize this? Jacob's well overlooks an agricultural plain called Moreh. It may be that Jesus could see wheat or some other cereal grain in the distance. Some think this accounts for that "four months" statement in v.35. If that was a literal statement, then the time he was in Sychar would have been about December, meaning this Early Judean Ministry lasted 7 or 8 months, i.e. from passover until December. But most of the sowing and reaping idea here was figurative meaning that Jesus' disciples were going do some more baptizing like John told us about up in v.1-2.
Then in v.39-42, this harvest is summarized. Let's read. "And many of the Samaritans of that city believed on him for the saying of the woman, which testified, He told me all that ever I did. So when the Samaritans were come unto him, they besought him that he would tarry with them: and he abode there two days. And many more believed because of his own words; and said unto the woman, Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world." John ch. 4 gives us a glimpse of Jesus' great success during the period before John the Baptist was cast into prison. Many of the Samaritans BELIEVED on him, v.38 and the thought is repeated in v.41. They confessed that indeed Jesus was the Christ, the Saviour of the world, v.42.
This is where we must put our easel and palette away. Re-read these 42 verses and appreciate the beauty. Until our next lesson, have a good day.