By the Rev. Doreen Smalls
Scripture: John 4: 7-15, 23-26, 28-30
Boundaries indicate a separation or limits. The Bible chronicles boundaries between the rich and the poor, men and women, and the Jews and the Samaritans. However, Jesus came along and constantly ignored those boundaries.
If we only knew
The writer of John narrates Jesus’ conversation with a woman of Samaria. “When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” (John 4:7) She responded, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?” (John 4:9)
The simple fact that Jesus began a conversation with her was a surprise. During Jesus’ time, a Jewish man would not speak to a woman to whom he was not related and they were in public. It was also shocking that he was talking to a Samaritan.
The Samaritans were descendents of the Assyrians brought into Israel and the Jews who were not exiled to Babylon. As a result, persons from both cultures intermarried. There were differences between the Jews and Samaritans over the proper place to worship and the essence of the holy texts. The Samaritans accepted the five books of Moses as holy while the Jews included the Prophets and some of the Writings.
Jesus was not concerned about the historical conflict or the present debate between the two cultures. While he respected the Jewish tradition, that was not the most important thing in this moment. Instead, he was thinking about the grace, salvation and redemption he was offering her. His gift surpassed the boundaries of gender, race and culture.
He answered the woman’s question, “If you know the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you the living water” (John 4:10).
If she had only known with whom she was speaking, she would have replied differently. This has been a recurring tragedy in humanity’s relationship with God. We, too, forget who God is. We often doubt His power in times of tribulation and His love in times of condemnation.
If the woman knew, she would have asked him for something eternally and ultimately satisfying. If you were standing before Christ, what would you ask him? Do you know someone who feels alienated and needs living water?
The others who need know
When the Samaritan woman comprehended that Jesus was the living water, she went back to the city. She told the people, “Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done! He cannot be the Messiah, can he?” (John 4:28-29)
She had to share with others who and what she discovered. This was not a planned evangelistic program. She simply told people about her encounter with Jesus. She was filled with joy and could not keep the Good News to herself.
One of the best evangelistic tools is our passion for Christ. When we are excited about Christ and what He is doing in our lives, it is easier to spread the Gospel. Therefore, it does not feel like an uncomfortable and daunting task, but it truly becomes a joy.
We thank God for the people who first told us about Jesus. And then we thank Him for the privilege of being that Samaritan woman in someone else’s life.
What hinders you from sharing the Good News? What opportunities do you have to spread the Gospel? Do you know someone who needs to hear your story?
Rev. Doreen Smalls is an associate director at the Office of Connectional Ministries. Contact her at email@example.com.