Tag Archives: Samaritan woman

Why Do The Wrong People Get Jesus’ Message?

The story of Jesus meeting with the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well doesn’t stop where we left off yesterday.  This woman doesn’t just accept Jesus’ word, but she immediately starts to evangelize.  She goes back into the town, where many people probably don’t normally speak to her because of her lifestyle, and speaks to everyone she meets to let them know that the Messiah is at the well!  These are not the right people, and they are not in the right place! 


Jacob’s well, the scene of our story, is at the entrance to the valley between Mt. Gerazim and Ebal.  The source of much of the division between the Samaritans and the Jews was that the Samaritans built an alternative temple on Mt. Gerazim.  In Jesus’ talk with the woman, when the discussion of which place was correct to worship God, the mountain where Samaritans worshiped or the temple in Jerusalem where the Jews worshiped, he makes it clear that it won’t be long before the issue of place will not matter.  The huge divide between the Samaritans and Jews will not matter anymore because everyone will worship in spirit and in truth wherever they are.


Why is it that the wrong people are so able to see Jesus as Messiah and to accept this?  Why were the Samaritans who followed this woman out of the city able to see and accept what the disciples were not?  Is it because they have no vested interest?  After-all, if you aren’t in a position to deserve anything and it is offered anyway wouldn’t you jump at it? 


Whatever else might be said of the disciples, they were Jews, the chosen people, they worshiped God and followed the customs and rules of the temple.  They would have firmly believed that the temple in Jerusalem was the proper place to worship, that the Samaritans were not people in God’s favour, and that Messiah was coming for them alone.  The Samaritans, on the other hand, did not even expect Jews to talk to them, especially after some Samaritans had scattered bones in the temple in Jerusalem, and after the Maccabean uprising was put down, allowed their temple to be dedicated to Zeus.  They had nothing to expect of Jesus, so when he offered them the living water they were happy to accept.


So, are we thirsty?  I know I am.  As thirsty people, are we more like the Jews who are sure of our position and right to the water, or are we more like the Samaritans unsure that we deserve anything? 


With potable drinking water at risk all over the world, and especially in Japan and other places which have had recent natural disasters, this seems like a good time for this question of thirst.  We in Canada don’t have much to worry about in terms of water.  We have lots for us, so much so that we are careless with it and just expect that it will remain this way.  Physically we are more like the Jews in this story, sure we will have the water while others may struggle.  Spiritually, though, I think our thirst is a bigger problem for us than those in the developing world.  As Christians we are lucky to have found the rock from whom the living water springs, even if we stray and find ourselves thirsting again we know that through prayer Jesus is still there for us. 


There are so many people out there who don’t even know for what they thirst.  They will try anything to fill that need, but it won’t work in the long-term.  They remain thirsty.  Like the woman at the well we need to go back to town and tell people what we have learned and offer to lead them to the man at the well.  If you meet a thirsty person do you not offer them a drink?

Don’t Air Our Dirty Laundry in Public


Last summer my daughter was at camp for a month and part-way through that time I met her for a weekend.  One of the main tasks for the weekend was to get all her laundry washed.  We weren’t at home so that meant heading to the laundromat with her bags.  It had been years since I had been to one, and she had never had the experience of getting her dirty laundry out of a bag and into washers in a public place.  When I came across the picture above it got me thinking.  W hen you think about some of the things that have changed in the last fifty years or so, one of the big changes will be in the area of what things are private and what is public.  The expression in the title was a common thing to hear ‘back in the day’.


There have been some very important advances made with the end of the dirty laundry plan.  Some of the things that were not aired were; child abuse, spousal abuse, alcoholism, mental disabilities, physical disabilities, mental illness etc.  People who were different had been kept behind closed doors.  People who needed help had no way of getting help.  This has changed.  Most people in our society today do not consider family violence acceptable and we have processes in place, child protection, transition houses etc, to help the victims and laws in place to deal with the abusers.  We no longer lock up most people with metal illness and have found successful ways to treat most illnesses.  This is all good!


My concern lies in the popularity of “reality” shows in which people with serious problems allow themselves to be filmed while dealing with them.  The show Intervention for instance films people in the very midst of their addictions.  There is some instructive or cautionary value to these shows, but I don’t think that it is good for the addicts in general and I think that too much of it is possibly harmful for the viewers as well.  Someday, presumably, the addicts will recover and want to put that behind them, but their children and grandchildren will have that ugly footage with which to come to grips.  There is a big difference between being in the public enough to get help and being in the public media!


It is debatable whether or not public figures like politicians and stars have the same right to privacy for their “laundry.”  On one hand, if you choose to be in the public eye then you ought to know that your life will be an open book.  It is only right that people should know about the personal life of the people for whom they vote.  On the other hand, who among us doesn’t have a secret or two we would prefer didn’t go public?  Does it follow that a politician who cheats on his or her spouse will do a poor job representing his or her constituency, or making decisions for the public good?


Jesus is noted for having hung around with the wrong types of people.  These tax collectors and other sinful people had lots of dirty laundry and everyone knew it.  The Samaritan woman at the well in John 4:5-42 had gone through 5 husbands already and was living with a man to whom she was not married.  I’m sure that the people in town were all too aware of this, but she didn’t have it written on her robe and was not out there telling everyone she met.  And yet, Jesus knew all about her.  Whether or not our faults and failings are public knowledge we know that they are at least open knowledge for God.


For most of us, our dirty laundry consists of mistakes we have made of which we are not proud and which we would like to keep quiet.  They are those very sins for which we need the forgiveness that has been offered us through the grace of God.  We don’t need to wave these sins on flags in public, indeed we don’t need to confess them to an intercessor, we just need to lay them before God and ask for forgiveness.  Jesus has already paid the price of public humiliation and death for those sins so that we are reconciled with God through him.  You don’t need to go public with your sins, just admit them and take them to God.