Samaritan woman - liberty through living waters



(John 4:7 NKJV)  A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, "Give Me a drink."

(John 4:8 NKJV)  For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.

(John 4:9 NKJV)  Then the woman of Samaria said to Him, "How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?" For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.

The story of the Samaritan woman at the well is often depicted either as a condemnation of the immorality of the woman for having five broken marriages, or in terms of cross cultural evangelism where Jesus entered a half Jewish/half “pagan” nation. Jesus however never used any word of condemnation against the Samaritan woman, and the depiction of Jewish Christians associating with the Samaritans would be a negative testimony as having yoked with half breeds against the religious order of nature.  Instead, it was really a testimony of God's mercy and grace, to go beyond the barriers of religion and culture, to the lowest tribe of people, and then to the lowest and most despised person within this tribe. His love and mercy endures forever. The Samaritan woman labelled unfairly as the most immoral in Samaria became the first "Christian". In God's plans, sometimes, the last shall be first, the least honored the first.

The woman had no name, reflecting of the fact that she had lost all dignity, identity and worth. It is like the Christian Right labeling all gays as homosexuals as if our sexual orientation alone defines who we are. Labeling makes it easy to justify and rationalize our action and condemnation of the minorities and takes away their humanity. Even Mary the Prostitute had a name, but the Samaritan women did not. When we see people as humanity and begin to have conversation with them, it is harder to reject, hate and discriminate for we begin to see that they are not much different from us. What then is the message of Jesus’ encounter with the unnamed Samaritan woman?

Jesus asked for a drink but in the story He never got His drink. The Samaritan Woman left without serving Jesus the drink of water He had asked for. Yet, Jesus was refreshed, for He had His strength for substinence by doing the will of God. In (John 4:34 NKJV)  Jesus said to them, "My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work. The will of God for that day was for the Samaritan woman to have a God encounter. Why would God chose the woman, and worst still a Samaritan with a very compromising background? God chose the least and the most unlikely person sometimes to do His work and the Samaritan women despite being despised and rejected by her own city and race became for them their saving grace to know Jesus Christ.

 In John 4:30,31, when the disciples came back from the Samaritan City, they were stunned to see Jesus talking to the Samaritan woman that they didn’t say anything about the encounter and asked Jesus to eat the food given. It was not that the Jews had no dealings with the Samaritan as stated in John 4:39, for obviously the disciples went into the Samaritan city to buy food.  What was meant in John 4:39, was that there was no goodwill and cordial relationship between the two races, and all the dealings were strictly business. Nothing free was given. The disciples going into the city to buy food was contrasted with Jesus asking a free drink from the Samaritan women.

If Jesus had asked a young man less bounded by the traditions or public opinion, He may have gotten the drink. Yet, He asked the person who was least likely to give Him a drink, why? There was no grace nor mercy left in the woman for goodwill. The image of the woman with 5 ex-husbands as immoral is misleading for it was the man who gave out the divorce certificate and not the woman. The woman had no rights but was property. The man can have many wives. Therefore, once the first husband abandoned her, she was left alone to survive in a hostile world where women are not supposed to work but stay as housewives. She had no choice but to find another husband who do doubt would have used her desperation to abuse her. That went on from one husband to another.  She was now empty emotionally, and spiritually, her heart filled with bitterness, devoid of any love.

The Samaritan Woman had suffered so much injustice and pain, and had so much of life taken away from her, that she had grown very hardened. Yet Jesus came and to her surprise asked her to give Him water to which her reply came quickly asking why she should give Jesus any favors? since Jesus was a Jew and their hated enemy. She was treated badly in life, and had no reasom to be nice to others.

(John 4:23 NKJV)  "But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him.

She had all the reason to deny Jesus His request, yet when Jesus mentioned about the living waters, it got her attention. Both the Jews and Samaritans adhere to the Torah, so the Samaritan woman stands condemned by the Word of the Law in both faiths. She was twice condemned. She tried to draw Jesus into the debate on which mountain to worship but Jesus would not drawn in saying that  a time is coming that we will begin to worship God not by the Laws of Moses but by the truth of the gift of eternal life in Christ. Jesus replied to the Samaritan, (John 4:10 NKJV)  "If you knew the gift of God, …..”, for the gift of God was the truth in the redeeming Grace of God, it was the gift of eternal life. She could only offer water to quench the momentarily thirst, yet Jesus could offer eternal life, to an eternal well with rivers of living water that will be everlasting that we may live forever. Knowing the truth, we are now free to worship God in the Spirit and not physically at the mountain of God. Hitherto, the presence and the spirit of God was only in the Holy of holies in the Temple at Jerusalem.

She was drawn to Christ Jesus, to a communion with God that will not disappoint contrary to her five previous relationships with man. The irony of the theological debate between Jesus and the Samaritan Woman was that she was not qualified to worship at either mountain. She was after all a woman and a confirmed sinner under the law. The theological discussion was just a distraction to divert the issue because Jesus was probing and reaching to a very sensitive area of her life. We have many gay man and women being over religious just to hide a part of their lives.

 The Samaritan women's heart was shut to the love and affection of people after being so brutally bruised and betrayed by many, her disappointment and pain scarred her heart, yet she entered into a conversation with Jesus because her heart was seeking. A lesser person who had not suffered and been through such difficult life experiences would have just shunted Jesus on account on being a Jew, yet, she entered and continued in a conversation with Jesus. She could see that Jesus was a prophet and possibly the Messiah whilst the entire City could not.

She saw that Jesus cared. There was a gentleness and love displayed different from those who had condemned her based on the law. There is an irony of the Christian Right talking about love and salvation, yet the Gay community would not be drawn to such empty words bearing instead injustice, hypocrisy, hate and homophobia. The Samaritan women’s heart was hardened not to be hurt again, yet underneath there was a soft heart, all the pretentions, pride, hopes, visions and desires all lost. She was completely humbled by her life experiences where she had lost all, her pride, her dignity, her morality, her friends and had nothing left, cheated of everything. She had no standing based on her race, culture, gender to boast off against Jesus. All her pretensions, Jesus saw through when He said, (John 4:17,18 NKJV)  …. "You have well said, 'I have no husband,' "for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; in that you spoke truly."

 Jesus could see through her, just as Jesus could see through the gay community and all our hurts, disappointments, and cruelty done against us, and the deep yearning for companionship and mutual love. There was a sympathy and compassion and promise of restoration to life by the living waters of God Himself, unexpect from the a religious figure.

If Jesus had visited Singapore, He would probably have gone to Maxwell market, Chinatown and asked a lonely gay man sitting in the stalls during mid-day to buy Him a drink. Would we answer Jesus “who do think you are!” or would we buy Him a large cool ice tea and exchanged it for living water, His gift of eternal life, His gift of love, grace and mercy that the world culture and Christian traditions have so cruelly taken away from us.

Jesus is asking us the gay community to open up our hardened hearts, to start giving and loving again, and when we do, we will see God coming into our lives. Have you encounter Gay men whose heart is so hardened and bitter of how the world and the church have dealt so cruelly and unjustly against them that they would not give others any grace nor mercy. If they had been insulted, they would retaliate 10 fold. They would show no mercy because no mercy was shown to them. When we go passed our hardened and armored persona is an empty shell, devoid of love.

The world, and the churches may reject us, but Jesus would go out of His way to seek after Gay people, People like us in Christ. He came, not to condemn us, but to proclaim God’s acceptance of us, who we are on the inside, including our sexual orientation. We who are innocent and yet suffered much indignity and loss, God will find His way to meet us even if it means going to places where few would go, to meet us at our own place, and time and where we are. 

“Just as I am, without one plea” reminds us an old hymn, for the important argument became not how many husbands the women had, or whether we are gay or straight, but to worship God in truth and in Spirit, to receive the gift of eternal life. The Jews would have bypassed Samaria giving excuses that it was not harvest time for people to know God there, even though Samaria was near Jerusalem. The Gay ghettos of the world lies close to our major city centers and instead of proclaiming God’s word of acceptance and affirmation, we continue to bypass our own Samaria.  

The message today by Jesus to the church in Singapore is that (John 4:35 NKJV)  …. "Do you not say, 'There are still four months and then comes the harvest'? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest!. The time is ripe for the Word of God to be preached to bring living waters of refreshment and God’s acceptance and hope to the GLBT community. One will find many seeking hearts in a dry and barren land, outwardly hostile and suspicious, but inwardly yearning and hoping for the flood of God’s love and unconditional acceptance. Just like the Samaritan woman, Gays are the nameless ones often overlooked and denied basic humanity by our labelling. But Jesus reminds us to look around, they are all around us, a unique people group worthy of the Gospel message for the Harvest is here and now and not in 10 years time.  

Just as I am

Just as I am, without one plea,
But that Thy blood was shed for me,
And that Thou bidst me come to Thee,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, and waiting not
To rid my soul of one dark blot,
To Thee whose blood can cleanse each spot,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, though tossed about
With many a conflict, many a doubt,
Fightings and fears within, without,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, poor, wretched, blind;
Sight, riches, healing of the mind,
Yea, all I need in Thee to find,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, Thou wilt receive,
Wilt welcome, pardon, cleanse, relieve;
Because Thy promise I believe,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, Thy love unknown
Hath broken every barrier down;
Now, to be Thine, yea, Thine alone,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come.

Just as I am, of that free love
The breadth, length, depth, and height to prove,
Here for a season, then above,
O Lamb of God, I come, I come!





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