“But He [Jesus] needed to go through Samaria. So He came to a city of Samaria which is called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied from His journey, sat thus by the well. It was about the sixth hour. A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, ‘Give Me a drink.’ For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food. 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.” (John 8.8-11).

The conversation began with a simple request for a drink of water. The only thing extraordinary about it was the ongoing lack of a relationship between the Jews and the Samaritans. The strained relationship between these geographical neighbors was centuries old so Jesus was breaking a time-honored tradition with His request. It was this fact that led the woman to question the propriety of His requested favor. John added a commentary by saying, For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.

She was a Samaritan. She was a Samaritan woman. She was a Samaritan woman with a probable checkered past. She was a Samaritan woman with a probable checkered past who was currently living with a man who was not her husband. All of these relevant facts should have been a warning to Jesus to keep His distance and to find some other way to slake His thirst (at least that’s what we might think). However, not all these facts taken collectively could stay His request. His mission was greater than satisfying His thirst; it extended to satisfying the spiritual needs of the woman at the well, a sinner in need of salvation.

Conventional wisdom said, “Stay away!” Jesus was not particularly impressed by conventional wisdom. The religious hierarchy in Jerusalem said, “They are but as dogs; stay away!” Jesus was not impressed by the religious hierarchy. The woman herself said, in effect, “I am not worthy of social interchange with you; stay away!” Jesus was not impressed by these self-imposed restrictions of a sinful woman. Jesus followed right priorities in dealing with sinners; after all, which was most important, those who were the keepers of conventional wisdom, the religious hierarchy, a woman’s view of herself, or the saving of a soul? Those who know Jesus know how He would have answered that question; or to put it as He did on one occasion, “What shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mark 8.37).

How does God treat sinners? He treats them as if they were made in His image and worthy of His attention. He treats them in ways that are not necessarily consistent with how humanity thinks. He treats them as if their souls are or central and unsurpassed importance. He treats them in a manner that flies in the face of tradition and longstanding habits. He treats them in a manner that satisfies the Divine need and not human fickleness or curiosity. God treats sinners the way Jesus treats sinners because Jesus was/is Divine!

Questions:

1. Why did Jesus go through Samaria (Don’t look too hard; the answer is simple)?

2. Why was the woman surprised by Jesus’ request?

3. What “risks” did Jesus take when He talked with this woman?

4. How did Jesus demonstrate the value that He placed on the human soul?