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Saving the Samaritan

The story of the Samaritan woman is a really amazing example of the “ holistic” nature of salvation.This lesson has come to me slowly, as I have begun to scrutinize the mission of Jesus Christ. The mission of Christ as was prophesied by the prophets (Isaiah 61:1-4) and confirmed by Christ Jesus Himself (Luke 4:18) was: to preach the gospel to the poor; heal the broken hearted; proclaim liberty to captives; bring recovery of sight to the blind; set at liberty those who are oppressed, and to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord. Jesus accomplishes His whole ministry in one single encounter with the Samaritan woman.This goes a long way to teach us that when we come to Christ, He is not only interested in forgiving our sins and getting us to heaven, but also in ministering to all of our brokennesses. The Son of God came to destroy the works of the devil. He did that in an instance in the life of the Samaritan woman.

The Bible tells us that the enemy comes to steal, kill and destroy, but that Jesus came to give life and life to the fullest. The Samaritans’ lives were such as this, under the veil of darkness: they had been denied the privilege of abundant life because they were considered outcasts. Outcasts simply because they were half Jewish and half gentile. Therefore the Jews who were “ blessed to be a blessing” ostracized and hated them.They did not preach to them even if they too were Abraham’s descendants through Jacob. These Samaritans lived as underdogs, and in what may be considered an act of ego preservation, they developed a misguided system of worship that defied truth: ”Our fathers worshipped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.” Jesus Christ challenged these wrong views of God and worship with: “You worship what You don’t Know” and “The hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem worship the Father.” Then Jesus Christ preached to her who God is and the kind of worship God that honoured God, respectively: “God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:24). These words achieved the dual function of dispelling Samaritan woman’s spiritual blindness as well as setting her free from an underdog mentality that pervaded her culture and religion. Jesus proclaimed freedom and recovery of sight for this Samaritan woman.

The preaching of Jesus did not only address the wrong notion on God and worship, but also pointed to her sinfulness. Unless we can recognize our sin and repent we cannot receive the true worth of the gospel. This woman was very religious; she knew the right direction for prayer, the mountain and even about the patriarch Jacob. However her religion had had little impact on her personal life. She had five failed marriages, and was currently in yet another adulterous relationship. At the core of her being she was a woman who was hurting and broken – ask anyone who has ever had a broken relationship, especially multiple ones. When Jesus met her He helped her see her sinfulness, which was the root to her brokenness. She accepted her sin and realised she was in the presence of a Holy man. Later when Jesus revealed Himself to her as the Messiah, the transformation was remarkable: from the disreputable woman who came to the well at the hottest hour, to avoid people, to the free spirit who ran to the city to invite “the men” to “come, see a man who told me all the things I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” This was a woman whose broken heart had been healed, and was no longer a victim of the oppression that she had been previously privy to. Jesus Christ had set her free. And now she was carrying forth the mission of Christ of bringing people to Him so that He could heal their hearts and set them free from every kind of oppression. We know this because it is written that: “many Samaritans of that city believed Him because of the word of the woman who testified, “He told me all that I ever did.” Christ Jesus had helped her know the truth and the truth had set her free.

Above all else, Jesus Christ ushered the Samaritan woman into the Year of the Lord’s Favour. Many Jews understood what the Year of God’s favour meant: it was the Year of Jubilee. This happened every fiftieth year when all Israelites were supposed to cancel debts, to return sold land to its original owner, and to express generosity to the poor. The year of Jubilee was a foreshadowing of when the Messiah would come and set people free from the debt of sin. Jesus did this for the Samaritan woman by saving her, and disclosing to her that He was the Messiah-she is the first person according to John’s gospel that Jesus revealed Himself to, and also the first woman with whom He had the lengthiest conversation in the scriptures. Jesus Christ indeed favoured this woman by giving her, “a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” In the Year of the Lord’s favour her cup overflowed.

We might look at the Samaritan woman as few among the favoured. Yes, Christ favoured her. But we too have been favoured. Jesus Christ, through His disciples, is still preaching the gospel to the poor, healing the brokenhearted, setting captives free, giving sight to the blind, setting the oppressed free and proclaiming the Year of the Lord’s favour. But like the Samaritan woman we must first accede to our sin, and repent before he can give us the “ living water”. After receiving this water we are also obligated like the Samaritan woman to go to “the city” and call others to “Come and see” so that through our testimony many may believe in Him, The Living Water.

“Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes into Me, as the Scripture said, out of his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water.”