Summary: A message for humanity from the Woman at the Well who had a "Close Encounter of the God-Kind".
DRINKING FROM THE WELL
By Pastor Jim May
Our weather on this cool, damp morning is nothing like it was on one day nearly 2000 years ago, as Jesus walked along a hot, dusty road. It was nearing the hottest part of the day and Jesus had been walking with His disciples for a while now.
I want to give an analogy this morning based upon this story of the woman at the well as she met Jesus. In this example of Jesus’ love for humanity, if we look very closely, we will see ourselves as that woman, lost in sin, in a hopeless situation, and ever thirsty for something that we are unable to find, until Jesus comes to us, sits with us, and begins to lead us into the way of salvation and deliverance.
John 4:3-4, "He left Judea, and departed again into Galilee. And he must needs go through Samaria."
It is interesting to note that Jesus chose to go against the acceptable route that most of the Jews would take to get from Jerusalem to the Galilee. The Samaritans were considered as outcasts from Jewish society. I know that most of you would probably already know that they were considered outcasts, but have you ever heard why? Why did the “old-line”, “traditional” and “those who held to the strict Law of Moses” teachings, hold nothing but disdain for their fellow Jews in Samaria?
There were several very good reasons why any good, self-respecting Jew would never mix with those outlaw Jews from Samaria.
1) During the revolt of the 10 tribes and the formation of the Northern Kingdom of the Jews under King Jeroboam, the golden calves were set up in Dan and Bethel to cause people to fall into idolatry and not go to the temple in Jerusalem to worship. The tribes of Judah and Benjamin in the south stayed true to temple worship. (For those who have been attending our teaching on the Tabernacle, you know how important it was to the Children of Israel to worship only at the Tabernacle, for there was the only place where the presence of the Lord would be.) Thus the Samaritans were blamed for splitting the nation and bringing in idolatry that led to Israel falling into slavery under the Assyrians and then the Babylonians.
2) While Samaria was under their control, the Assyrians had created colonies of heathenistic and idolatrous people, including priests whose whole purpose was to discourage the Jews from rebuilding their land when the captivity was over.
3) Those who have been in our Sunday evening studies of the Book of Nehemiah will remember the names of Sanballat and Tobiah, two of the main adversaries that Israel faced when they came back to rebuild Jerusalem and the temple. Sanballat seems to have been one of these Assyrians spies and the Jews of Jerusalem would never forget the fight they had with Sanballat while trying to reestablish the nation under Nehemiah.
4) Manasseh, brother to Jaddua the high priest, married Sanballat’s daughter while Sanballat was the governor of Samaria. This added insult to injury and Jaddua was removed from the priesthood. Jaddua begged Sanballat to build a second temple in Mount Gerizim so that he could be the High Priest in Samaria and not have to obey the High Priest at Jerusalem. That fit into Sanballat’s plan to anger the Jews so he got permission from Alexander the Great and built a second temple, insulting Judah and defying the Jewish law.
5) Jaddua drew a great many of the wild and rebellious Jews over to his side, who mixed with the Samaritans and set up their own worship, religion, and priesthood in direct opposition to the Sanhedrin Council in Jerusalem. All of these things were a constant source of contention and fighting between the Jews and Samaritans and that’s why the Jews would have no dealings with the Samaritans.
The contention was so strong that, normally, the good Jews from the area around Judea and Galilee would go out of their way, taking the longer journey through the areas of Perea and Decapolis rather than the direct course through Samaria. That would easily add another 60 to 80 miles to the trip, but at least they wouldn’t have to deal with those pesky Samaritans.
Can you imagine the shock then that the disciples must have felt when Jesus announced that He was not only leaving Jerusalem and going to Galilee, but that he was going straight through Samaria? I wonder if they might have complained a little before resigning themselves to follow along?
Nevertheless, they followed Jesus into Samaria, to a little town called Sychar. They had already walked for quite a while, covering about 30 miles. No doubt they were all getting hungry, thirsty and tired. That’s a long distance to walk in mountains, hills and desert under the hot sun. Finally, the town came into sight. It was welcomed sight. There they could rest in the shade for while. They forgot for a while that this was still Samaria. Their need outweighed their prejudices.