Summary: We can all identify with that Woman at the Well. Jesus comes to each of us one-on-one to reveal himself to us so that we may have that Living Water.
The Woman at the Well
Pastor Jim May
The Feast of Passover had come to an end, and it was time to get back to the daily work of ministry and teaching so Jesus stepped out onto the dusty road leading from Jerusalem to Galilee, followed closely by his 12 disciples. This was to be one of many journeys that he would make along that road. Jesus spent at least 30 years of his life around Galilee. Bethlehem and Nazareth were a part of that region of the country and not only was Jesus raised there as a child, but that is where he ministered more than any other place in Israel.
The country of Jordan lies directly north of Judea and Jerusalem where the Passover was held and there is only about 35 miles, as the crow flies, from Jerusalem to the capital city of Samaria, but though they were very close together, and both the Samaritans and the Jews were all from the 12 tribes of Israel, there was a great division between the Northern and Southern Kingdoms and it resulted in open warfare.
The rift between the Jews and the Samaritan began during the reign of King Rehoboam. During his reign, Israel became a divided nation, with the 10 tribes in the North seceding from the two tribes in the South. Israel went through its own time of civil war, North against South, brother against brother, fighting for their own rights. Jeroboam was chosen as the King of the North and the fight was on. The war was the opposite of our own Civil War in that it was the Southern King, Rehoboam, that was fighting to restore the union of Israel, and it was Jeroboam, King of the North, who was fighting to establish a new nation, free of Southern influence.
As with every civil war within a nation, hard feelings, distrust and hatred become a part of the conflict, and even after the fighting comes to an end, these things still remain for a very long time. It takes generations for that kind of hatred to pass because it is passed on from father to son, and to grandchildren. We know that this can be true for even today there remains a remnant of the division from the Civil War that fought here in America nearly 150 years ago.
There are many whose families have been forever altered through the conflict, and as it is now, we have much discord over the symbolism of that conflict. Many are offended by the displaying of the Confederate battle flag and other monuments, much the same as many of us are offended at the display of the Nazi Swastika or the Russian Hammer and Sickle flag on our American Buildings.
During this time of division, Jeroboam, King of the Northern tribes, set up idols in Dan and Bethel and the Jews in the north no longer went to Jerusalem to worship at the temple. Later on these rebellious Jews began to intermarry with the Assyrians and then the Jews in the South looked upon them as “dogs” or “half-breeds”.
After the Babylonian Captivity, the Jews in the North were a constant source of opposition to the re-establishment of Jerusalem, discouraging the Jews from rebuilding and sometimes trying to stop them completely.
The Northern tribes eventually claimed that only the books of Genesis through Deuteronomy were part of the Law of Moses. They rejected everything after that. They also claimed that their copy of these books was the only original copy making the Jews in the South angry that much more.
Thus we can understand the animosity that still existed in the days when Jesus walked in that region. The old hurts, hatred and distrust had not gone away and it would be a long time before Israel would reunite as one nation. In fact, it was nearly 1500 years later, in 1948 that Israel was declared a free nation and reunited by the grace of God. Many other nations have fallen and never recovered.
John 4:1-2, "When therefore the Lord knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John, (Though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples)"
The Pharisees, that bunch of whited sepulchers full of dead men’s bones”, and “religious snakes” who were a part of the self-righteous and powerful Sanhedrin Council at Jerusalem, hated Jesus. His popularity among the people and his condemnation of their evil ways threatened to undermine their authority in Israel and they didn’t like being called sinners and hypocrites. Like many in the church who can see the faults of every one else, but who can’t accept the fact that they too have faults, these Pharisees hated Jesus because he wouldn’t let them forget how bad they truly were.