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  • Pearl

Come see a Man

Judeans and Samaritans hadn’t got along for centuries. The troubles started after the king of Assyria conquered the ten northern tribes of Israel. He deported the elite of Israel to be slaves in Syria, and then, as replacements, imported many foreigners into Israel from Babylon and other heathen countries, settling them in Samaria (2 Kings 17:23-24). As a result of cultural assimilation and intermarriage the people of Samaria created their own quasi-religion of fearing God but serving idols and carved images (2 Kings 17:41). Two hundred years later, the king of Babylon conquered the two southern tribes of Israel, demolishing Jerusalem and deporting their elite to Iraq (Daniel 1:3). After decades of servitude in Iraq, some of the elite Jewry gained permission to return to Judea to rebuild Jerusalem. Arriving back in Jerusalem it was the Samaritans who constantly troubled the Jews in their construction work, harassing them on every side and causing major disturbances (Ezra 4:10, Nehemiah 4:2, 8). Fast forward to Jesus’ time… The suspicion and low esteem that Jews and Samaritans held each other in was the backdrop for the Lord’s parable of the good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37). Nothing could have been more preposterous than a Samaritan coming to the aid of a Jew, or worse, a Jew asking help from a Samaritan (Nehemiah 2:20). An insult to the Lord from a few Jewish leaders was, “we were right when we said you are nothing but a demon-possessed Samaritan” (John 8:48). John 4:4 tells us Jesus needed to go through Samaria. It was to reveal the truth to Samaritans and His disciples. At Jacob’s well the woman was very surprised to hear Jesus ask her for a drink (John 4:9)! Her inquisitive mind compelled her to ask three questions. “Why are you, a Jew, asking me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink (John 3:9)?” “With what bucket will you pull up the living water you’re talking about (John 4:11)?” “Are you greater than our ancestor Jacob who dug this well for us (John 4:12)?” Jesus responds to her natural questions by providing spiritual answers, and then tells her what her life had been like up to that point in time. She perceives that He is a prophet - perhaps He can explain to her why Jews have such different worship practices to Samaritans? “Our forefathers worshipped on this mountain, but you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where a person should worship (John 4:19).” Jesus speaks straight to her heart. “The hour is coming and it’s here now, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth (John 4:23-24).” Jesus unveiled to her that true worship came from the heart and would not be limited to one place. True worship, through believing in Him, was beyond a place and space and time! By the power of the Holy Spirit the woman understood exactly what the Messiah was saying. She believed! – and the rest of her evangelistic story is recorded in John 4:27-43. Over the next couple of days, staying in Samaria with the Lord, His disciples also came to believe. By the power of the Holy Spirit they came to understand that God was not only their God but He yearned to be God of the Samaritans too! Jesus was reconciling them, Jew and Samaritan, to Himself and to each other. After Pentecost, Philip went to a city in Samaria and preached Christ to them. Peter and John followed up, baptising believers in the Holy Spirit as well as going and preaching Christ in other villages of Samaria (Acts 8:5,14,15,25). The last recorded words spoken by the Lord to His friends before being taken up into Heaven were, “You will be My witnesses in Jerusalem and in all of Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8).” I wonder if the woman from the well was there that day? We will find out when we get to Heaven. My prayer is for us all to do what she did, keep going to our families and communities and further afield, echoing her evangelistic invitation - “Come see a Man... (John 4:29).” Love and blessings

Pearl

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