Tag Archives: Samaritan woman

THE FOUNTAIN OF GOD’S LOVE

THE FOUNTAIN OF GOD’S LOVE

I have been circling around the story of Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman once again. This story fascinates and inspires me because of the many layers it reveals of Jesus’ character and His way, as the Son of God, of dealing with an immoral woman.

Since this woman remains nameless, we can place ourselves in her shoes (sandals), and receive the same diagnosis and the same remedy today as Jesus gave her on that memorable morning.

Her body language spoke volumes of her demeanour, her defiant attitude, her seductive eyes, betraying the aura of a provocative and seductive temptress on the outside, but weeping inwardly of her loneliness and frustration.

She, of all people, should have been condemned and shunned by the Holy Son of God but, instead, Jesus peered deep into her soul, read her heart and gave her the perfect solution to her need.

“Woman, you are thirsty, but you are drinking polluted water at the wrong fountain.”

Thirsty for what? What was this “water” for which she was craving? It’s obvious that her longing was to be loved… loved for who she was, not for what she could do or give… loved despite her flaws and failures… loved unconditionally and unceasingly.

She longed for a love that was not fickle, would not grow tired of her or give up on her when her beauty faded and her body took on the condition and shape of increasing years.

She longed for the love that looked into her soul and recognised the growing beauty of wisdom and maturity, of inner peace and contentment, and faith in a love that would never fail her to the end of her days.

Five times she tried, but each time the fountain delivered only selfish, abusive or demanding water, only eventually to fail, leaving her more thirsty and desperate than ever.

Then Jesus came, a man who looked at her, not with lust but with compassion and kindness. There was warmth and understanding in His gaze. She was startled, repulsed because of her shame, yet drawn to Him at the same time by His genuine interest and His simple request.

“Why are you talking to me?“ she burst out. She was anticipating yet another outburst of loathing and contempt from yet another Jewish man. Jesus ignored her outburst…He had a much more important issue to deal with.

He came straight to the point. “I can give you the love you crave, not the love of a man for a woman but the love of your Creator God for His beloved fallen daughter. This love will lift you up, wash you clean and recreate you in His own image, the image of pure love. This love will never give up on you, never fail you and never run dry.”

She was intrigued. “Where will I find this love? Is it possible that I can be loved like that?“

“I am this love,” He replied. “To receive this love, you must turn your back on all other loves. You must run from the polluted fountain which has never satisfied your thirst, and drink only at the fountain of my love for you.”

In that encounter with Jesus, she lost her guilt, her shame, her fear. She ran back to her village, her load gone, to share with the very people from whom she shrank, the wonder of a new love. She saw, beyond the human Jesus, the Messiah of God’s promise, the One who could satisfy her longing heart forever. Human love, feeble, frail and fickle, may come and go but divine love endures forever.

Every human heart, no matter what colour the skin that covers the outside, craves a love that is…

“… patient and kind… not jealous or boastful or proud or rude…does not demand its own way… is not irritable, and… keeps no record of being wronged…does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out…never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

1 Corinthians 13:4-7 NLT

Jesus called this love “a fountain”, refreshing and quenching the thirst of everyone who drinks of it.

“On the last day, the climax of the festival, Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to me!  Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’”

John 7:37-38 NLT

Why is Jesus the fountain from which we must drink? He is God, and God is love. It is God’s love alone that can satisfy the longing of our hearts.

Why?

Life is uncertain. We live in a fallen world, full of evil people and the uncertainties and insecurities of an unknown future. How can we live in peace, without fear, and secure in a love that will never fail us and will carry us through every test and trial to the end of our days? How can we endure the hardships, trials and tragedies that hit us out of the blue?

God’s love is our only guarantee. If God loves us, with a love that is utterly trustworthy, nothing can overtake us that is bigger than this love.

How do we know that God truly loves us?

“God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.”

1 John 4:9-10 NLT

“There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

John 15:13 NLT

How do we respond to this great love of God?

Jude said: “But you, dear friends, must build each other up in your most holy faith, pray in the power of the Holy Spirit,  and await the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will bring you eternal life. In this way, you will keep yourselves safe in God’s love.”

Jude 1:20-21 NLT

Keep yourselves safe in God’s love!  When tragedy strikes, drink of that love. “In all things God works for our good…” When resources run out, drink at the fountain. When relationships fail, believe in the love of God. When children disappoint, take courage and hope in Jesus’ love.

When you wake in the morning, take a deep draught of God’s love before you drink your first cup of coffee.  Fall asleep at night secure in the arms of that great love. Navigate your day, whatever it brings, in that secure and unfailing love. Never allow a single thought to cross your mind that doubts that God is in charge.

God will never permit anything in your life that does not come through the filter of His love.

“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Romans 8:38-39 NLT

The Real Thing!

THE REAL THING! 

“‘Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshippers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshippers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and His worshippers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.’ The woman said, ‘I know that Messiah (called Christ) is coming. When He comes, He will explain everything to us.’

“Then Jesus declared, ‘I, the one speaking to you — I am He.'” John 4:23-26 (NIV).

Her curiosity was aroused!

At first she was afraid, getting ready to run if Jesus came too close, but now, like an inquisitive animal she crept nearer. Her secret was out and she was no longer afraid of being found out. Jesus knew it all but, instead of judging her, He diagnosed the cause of her pain — she had no Father, no-one to turn to; no-one to give her an identity; no-one to worship who would accept her and receive her and make her feel secure.

‘God the Father is looking for true worshippers, people who will open up their entire being to Him and become one with Him through the Holy Spirit,’ Jesus explained. Something came alive inside her. Her cold, dead heart was awakened. Somewhere she had heard that the Messiah was coming and He would make it all plain.

Wistfully, she voiced her longing. ‘Isn’t there someone who can tell me what this means? I know that Messiah is coming. When He comes, He will make it clear. But He’s not here, and how am I supposed to understand?’

Jesus did something He had never done in any other company — He told her straight out that He was the Messiah! She had inadvertently expressed her longing for Him, now that her interest and desire to know the truth had been aroused. It was time to disclose His identity so that her awakened heart could open up and receive the truth He was offering her.

In a short space of time she had come a long way from being a brassy and hardened loose woman to an interested enquirer after the truth. How did Jesus do that? There was something about Him that she could not fathom but that drew her to Him. He was not the run-of-the-mill man who was lured by her “charms” and wanted what she shamelessly flaunted.

He was friendly, warm, gentle even when He disclosed her sin, and genuinely interested in her. He understood her; He knew who she was behind her hard exterior.   She was not the person she projected to the world. She lived in a prison of loneliness, shame and fear, feeling worthless, used and unwanted. She was an orphan. She had no Father.

Slowly He coaxed her out of her shell. When He dropped His bombshell by revealing His intimate knowledge of her lifestyle, she was ready to listen and not to run away. It was His role to introduce her to the Father and to reconnect her to Him so that she, too, could take her place in His family as a beloved daughter.

Her way of life was a poor substitute for what her heart longed for. She knew there was something missing but she could not put her finger on it until she met Him, and then it all fell into place. It was not only His words that unlocked her imprisoned heart. It was the presence of Jesus Himself that finally set her free. He exuded the very presence of God, the real God, not the substitute god she knew about and to whom she possibly even paid lip service.

She did not know then, but she would learn that she was standing in the presence of, and being spoken to by the Son of God, in the presence of pure Love, a love she had never experienced before. It was a love that engulfed her like a warm blanket, making her feel alive, clean and completely accepted in spite of everything she had done. This was the real thing and she knew it!

A Drink Of Water

A DRINK OF WATER 

“Jesus answered her, ‘If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked Him and He would have giving you living water.’

“‘Sir,’ the woman said, ‘you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us this well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock?'” John 4:10-12 (NIV).

What an intriguing response!

The woman had asked Jesus a simple question, ‘How can you, a Jewish man, be asking me, a Samaritan woman for a drink?’ but it revealed a whole lot about what she thought about herself. In His reply Jesus used the imagery of water to introduce her to something much better than well water.

He asked her for water because He was thirsty but her visit to the well in the middle of the day opened up a pathway to her thirst which could not be quenched by what she could get from the well. Why did she come out in the heat? All the other women of the village drew water in the early morning or late in the afternoon. Was she avoiding them because she was an outcast?

Why was she an outcast? As the story unfolds, we learn of her unsavoury lifestyle. Did she want to be a promiscuous woman? I don’t think so. She was desperately thirsty for love. Her story can be retold today. Many millions of women and young girls sell themselves, their chastity, dignity and self-respect for empty promises to men who use them and throw them away.

One wonders why she continued this conversation with Jesus. Did she see in Him another prospect? And yet she instinctively knew that He was different from other men. He was open, friendly and polite, and didn’t look at her with lust or undress her with His eyes. Instead, His eyes were full of understanding and compassion.

Jesus saw beyond her brassy facade, her emptiness, her loneliness and her tear-stained heart and reached out to offer her what no human being could give her — living water. To a person in Jesus’ day, “living” water was the clean, fresh water from a flowing stream, not stagnant water from a well, but what He offered was far better than that!

Her thoughts didn’t connect with Jesus’ thoughts. She was so imprisoned in her way of thinking and in her lifestyle that it did not occur to her that it could be different. To her, Jacob’s well was a very important water source. In fact, it was a bit of a miracle. Jacob and his family and animals had used this well centuries before and it was still providing water for the village now. What could Jesus offer her that was greater than that?

“Jesus answered, ‘Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.’ The woman said to Him, ‘Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.'” John 4:13-15 (NIV).

There you have it! Jesus was not talking about the stuff you need to drink; He was taking about another kind of “water” which satisfies the thirst that water cannot reach. Every human being is thirsty for the kind of love that does not use and abuse but that unconditionally loves us for who we are. No human love can quench that thirst, not even the best love a human can offer. There is the element of selfishness in human love, even at its best.

This woman had been the object of lust, but she had never been loved. Jesus looked past her sordid life and saw an empty, thirsty heart and offered her the love that only God can give.

But imagine her confusion! What a relief it would be if this man, by some miraculous means could save her from having to face the burning sun every day to come out here for water. She snatched at the opportunity to get some of this “magic” water, having no clue as to where and what it was.

Jesus still sees the empty, weeping heart today. He is the source of a love that never gives up, never runs dry and never betrays the one who trusts Him. He proved it by laying down His life for you.

Don’t Talk To Me, God!

DON’T TALK TO ME, GOD!

“Now Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that He was gaining and baptizing more disciples than John — although in fact it was not Jesus who baptized, but His disciples. So He left Judea and went once more to Galilee. Now He had to go through Samaria. So He came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as He was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon.” John 4:1-6 (NIV).

Quite a detailed introduction to his story, isn’t it?

John sets the scene for us — Jesus, gaining so much popularity that the Pharisees were starting to take notice, left Judea and returned to Galilee. Instead of the usual route through Transjordan to avoid any contact with Samaritans, He went through Samaria.

Why did the Jews take the trouble to avoid travelling through Samaria? They would have had to buy food and possibly accept hospitality from Samaritans and that was an absolute no-no to a Jew. They were so prejudiced against Samaritans because they were a mixed race that to have any contact with them was abhorrent.

To add insult to injury, the Samaritans occupied territory that was significant to the Jews. Their revered ancestors’ footprints were all over this ground. Jacob, Joseph — these were the great patriarchs of their nation but the land was now polluted with half-breeds. They were so bigoted that they would not even put their feet on the land occupied by these intruders.

What was the origin of these hated Samaritans? When the Assyrians overran the northern kingdom of Israel in 722 BC, they took the best of the Israelites captive to Assyria and repopulated the land with people from other conquered nations. These immigrants intermarried with the poorest of the Israelites who were left behind, resulting in the mixed race the Jews despised. The religion of the Samaritans was a mixture of Judaism and the religion of the non-Israelites imported to populate the land.

But Jesus, unlike His compatriots, wasn’t eaten up with racial prejudice.

He was hot and tired. When He reached the town of Sychar, He stopped to rest beside the town’s well in the middle of the day. The disciples left Him to buy food in the town. Was He just resting or was He hoping that someone would come to the well and give Him water? Did He have some sort of foreknowledge that a woman who needed Him would come there to draw water or was it just a coincidence that she arrived while He was sitting there?

“When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, ‘Will you give me a drink?’ (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food). The Samaritan woman said to Him, ‘You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?’ (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans).” John 4:7-9 (NIV).

Jesus’ question startled the woman. She was expecting either to be ignored or insulted by this well-dressed Jew. His friendly manner and simple request took her by surprise. Her reaction was to protest. ‘What’s it with you?’ she asked. ‘How can you, a Jewish man ask me, a Samaritan woman, for water? Don’t you know that you will be polluted by touching my water jar? How can you even talk to me? Don’t you know who I am?’

This woman obviously knew her place. Her lifestyle and reputation as well as her status as a Samaritan woman had caused her to build a wall around herself. She expected to be treated badly because that was what she deserved. Any kindness, especially from a man, was foreign to her and almost offended her. Abuse cemented and justified her opinion of herself.

This woman’s reaction to Jesus reflects the typical human way of evaluating ourselves and our fellow humans. We use our behaviour as the measure of our worth. Take the way we treat our children, for example. Performance is the standard. Children are branded “naughty” when they misbehave, “stupid” when they act foolishly or produce poor grades at school or “useless” when they reveal their immaturity, and they live up to the image projected onto them.

Jesus never responded to people according to their behaviour. Their behaviour was a reflection of what they thought of themselves, not of what He thought of them. He valued them as children of God created in His image. He treated them with dignity and respect and influenced them to become who they really were, sons and daughters of God who were created to reflect Him.

That how He sees you. It’s okay! You can talk to Him.