Summary: # 10 in series. Points out four things about contact with Jesus.
A Study of the Book of John
“That You May Believe”
Sermon # 10
“Love That Knows No Barriers!”
Our story today begins with Jesus on a journey. He has been traveling and has paused for a rest and some much needed water. Here he meets a woman at the local well. The person who met Jesus at the well in Sychar stands in stark contrast to Nicodemus whom we met in chapter three. This was a Samaritan and a woman and Nicodemus was a Jewish man. He was religious, she was immoral. She came by day, not intending to speak to Jesus and he came by night, and initiated the conversation. Jesus unmasked the spiritual emptiness of one who thought himself right with God and revealed the maze of tangled relation-ships that left the other with no hope. She was a social outcast and he was among the socially elite. Nicodemus hung on every word, she was seemly indifferent. Yet both of them need what Jesus offered.
First, A Life That Created Lots Of Barriers
In verse five we read, “So He came to a city of Samaria which is called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. (6) Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied from His journey, sat thus by the well. It was about the sixth hour.(7) A woman of Samaria came to draw water.”
Jesus was tired from the journey in the heat of the day and so he decides to rest by the well while his disciples go on into the village to get something for them to eat. It is at this point that a woman from the nearby village appears.
The bitter hatred between the Jews and Samaritans was long standing – going back hundreds of years. Perhaps a little history will help us at this point. The Jews and the Samaritans hated each other. It all went back to 722 B.C. when the Assyrians conquered Israel and took the northern ten tribes into captivity. They brought in Gentiles from other areas to settle in that same region. Eventually those Gentiles with their pagan ways intermarried with the Jews who had been left behind. Over the generations those people were called the Samaritans, and they developed their own religion that was partly based on pagan ideas and partly based on Judaism.
The Jews looked down on the Samaritans as racial half-breeds and religious heretics. The Jews refused to accept the Samaritans as their kinsmen and both sides developed an implacable, murderous hatred for one another. It’s hard for us to understand the animosity that existed between these two groups, but if you think of the present-day relationship between the Palestinians and the Israelis, you’ve got the right idea.
Now that brings us back to verse three which says that Jesus “needed to go through Samaria.” Technically, it was not a necessity at all, and culturally, it was not even customary to do so. Although passing through Samaria is the most direct route between Galilee on the north and Judea to the south, but because of the animosity which existed between these two peoples, conscientious Jews chose to take a longer route to keep from passing through Samaria. The answer why Jesus “needed to go through Samaria” is simple and yet profound: Jesus went because he intended to meet this woman. He knew she would be coming to the well at precisely the moment he was sitting there weary from his journey. This woman was despised because of her race and she was also a person who may have been shunned by her community because of her lifestyle.
The fact that this woman comes to the well at sixth hour (v. 6) (or noon by Jewish reckoning) to draw water is very revealing. She was coming during the hottest part of the day, other women didn’t do this. She was going to the well by herself other women did not do this. She obvious was coming to the well at a time when she would not expect to meet any of the other women of the village. Because this woman is alone and coming during the hottest part of the day it is an indication that she was a social outcast. As J. Vernon McGee says, “one of the reasons that this woman is so unpopular with the women in this town is that she is so popular with the men.”
Let me ask you, “Have you ever meet someone who was off-limits socially?” I know the teenagers know what I am talking about. I am talking about the kid who if you hang out with them your friends will make fun of you! In fact they may not have anything do to with “you” any more. There are just some people that society tells us to stay away from. This Samaritan woman is that kind of person.