“Who is Jesus?” John 4:1-26 (part 1 of 3)

Jesus – The Gift from God

If you ever have the chance, it is very interesting to follow John’s gospel narrative with a map of the places Jesus traveled to and from.  In John 4, the apostle writes that Jesus leaves Judea to go back to Galilee in the north and “He (Jesus) had to pass through Samaria.” Most Jews walked miles out of the way to avoid these people and this area.  This statement, made with such an imperative, alerts us to watch for something important.  So why was it a necessity for Jesus to go here?

I love the story of Jesus sitting at Jacob’s well at high noon as the Samaritan woman comes for water.  It is almost as if I can feel the heat of the sun on my head, smell the dust of the earth, and anticipate the cool refreshment of the well water.  Perhaps, I am envious of her opportunity to speak in this private way with Jesus.  I admire the way she asks questions even though Jesus doesn’t seem to be answering them.  The conversation between Jesus and this Samaritan woman tells us a lot about who Jesus is – and who we are.

There came a woman of Samaria to draw water.  Jesus said to her, “Give Me a drink.”

Therefore the Samaritan woman said to Him, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask me for a drink since I am a Samaritan woman?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.)

Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and He would have given you living water.”

This woman properly identifies Jesus as a Jew, and she expects that He will treat her as an enemy; not only an enemy but as a threat to His own purity.  Jesus’ request gives her an opportunity to throw this back to his face.  We know the story well enough to know that her response probably doesn’t come from only this one encounter; she has been shunned and avoided in many other situations.  Now, here is a Jewish man asking for a drink and telling her about a gift of God and living water.  Who is this man?  Why is He speaking to her?  What is the gift?  What is living water?

The history recorded in the books of the Kings tells us that the Samaritans were Jews who had intermarried with foreigners while they were in Assyrian captivity.  They incorporated worship of idols into their culture and picked out only parts of God’s laws to follow.  The Jews did see the Samaritans as enemies – they were impure.  The Samaritan woman acknowledges the enmity between her and the man sitting at Jacob’s well.   Jesus is on a mission to Samaria to address this woman’s problem, but it is not the problem that she thinks it is.

We have the same problem that this woman has.  Our enemy is not other people – nations or clans – but God.  No matter how good or bad we are, we are not at peace with God.  Each of us is born with, and we add to, a bad record with God.  We have broken His laws and are in violation of His perfections.  Way back in Genesis, God said that the penalty for violation of His word was death.  Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Jesus, this man speaking to the Samaritan woman, is the gift from God.  Jesus’ purity is not threatened by receiving a drink from this woman; in fact, she can gain something from Him – PEACE with God.  Ephesians 2 tells us that Jesus is our peace and that He came to abolish this enmity.  Both Jews and Gentiles are reconciled to God through the cross that Jesus came to bear.  “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household.” (2:19)

Jesus has a mission to become the peace between us and God.  This peace will bring us into the household of God.  What a long distance Jesus travels for us – from enemy to citizen of His household.

Come back to read more of Jesus’ mission in Samaria!

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