Summary: Teaching about how Jesus reaches the unreachable person
Lesson’s from the Well
CCCAG March 25th, 2018
Scripture- John 4:1-26, 39-42
When I was in the Army I was stationed near Montgomery Alabama. For those of you who lived through the 1960’s and 70’s, you remember this city because it was the birthplace of the civil rights movement. Montgomery was the place Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat to a white man, and where Dr. Martin Luther King led some of his biggest marches to protest the racial injustice of his day.
One of the events that was sponsored by our morale officer was to take weekly bus trips into Montgomery to see the semi pro football team called the Alabama Seminoles. The first time I went there it was a lot of fun.
During the game, I went off to find a bathroom and came upon a roped off area with a display of two water fountains. One water fountain had a sign that said, “Whites only” and the other water fountain said, “Coloreds only”. A plaque on the wall stated that these were two real water fountains that existed through the early 1970’s. The city had decided to keep them as a display as a reminder of the racial segregation that existed in Alabama during that time.
I remember how I felt about that. I grew up in Wisconsin and did not see a lot of overt racism. The most I saw was occasionally hearing people refer to black people in profane ways, but really there wasn’t as overt as this example in the south. I didn’t really understand racism as I grew up in the poor area of Kenosha, so I had a lot of Hispanic and black friends. I even had a Japanese friend who had just moved over from Japan.
I had read in books about the racism and segregation in the south and seen it in movies and pictures of that era, but up until right then I never really seen firsthand an example of it.
I wasn’t even a Christian then and it made my heart ache at the unfairness those people had to endure from people with the same ancestry I have.
In the scripture we are going to read today, Jesus is going to be dealing with an extreme example of racism as chooses to talk to a Samaritan woman.
Some of you remember the history of the Samaritan people from our Sunday School lessons last year of the minor prophets but let’s do a quick review it for those who might not have heard it before.
In 1052 BC, a man named Saul becomes King over Israel. Before this, the tribes of Israel maintained a lose confederation but had no central government. Saul starts to pull the tribes together to form one kingdom under God. This works continues under King David, culminating with King Solomon in which Israel is the only superpower in the known world at the time.
In 931 BC Upon King Solomon’s death, his son Rehoboam makes some foolish decisions and the Kingdom splits in half- 10 of the 12 tribes forming the nation of Israel, while 2 of the southern tribes form the Kingdom of Judea. Israel is separated from pure worship of God found the temple in Jerusalem and quickly falls into Idolatry and wickedness from which is never truly recovers. For over 200 years, God sends prophet after prophet after prophet to get them to repent but they ignore and often kill them leading to God’s judgement.
In 722 AD, The northern Kingdom of Israel is conquered by Assyria and it’s people killed, scattered or carried off into captivity. The few who remain are forced into intermarriage with their conquerors. This violates the law of Moses which states that Hebrews can only marry other Hebrews. That law was put in place to assure a pure bloodline for Messiah. Most of these people congregated in what today is central Israel. These were the Samaritan people.
Because of their sin and polluted bloodlines they could never again be full citizens in Israel, nor could they offer sacrifices at the temple.
The animosity between the pure-blooded Hebrews and the Samaritans was got even worse when Nehemiah and Ezra returned to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple and the city after suffering their own exile.
In 444 BC, A Samaritan leader named Sanballat offered Samaria’s help in the rebuilding the temple but was rejected by Nehemiah for not being a pure-blooded Hebrew. To our understanding, it sounds very racist and unloving, but Ezra and Nehemiah had just suffered a 100-year exile from their land for violating God’s law, so were being very strict with the law because they didn’t want a repeat.
Sanballat then formed an opposition to the rebuilding which ultimately failed and so he decided to build a separate temple in Samaria at Mt Gerizim and formed a religion that was an offshoot of Judaism, which further isolated them from the Hebrews and made the loathing and hatred grow.