Crossing Barriers, Facing the Issues – John 4

9 The woman was surprised, for Jews refuse to have anything to do with Samaritans.  

 She said to Jesus, “You are a Jew, and I am a Samaritan woman. Why are you asking me for a drink?”

10 Jesus replied, “If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.”

11 “But sir, you don’t have a rope or a bucket,” she said, “and this well is very deep. Where would you get this living water?

Crossing Barriers.  You are probably familiar with the point that the text makes.  There was a long standing hostility between Jews and Samaritans.  This was based on religious differences, and on racial differences.

We know how fierce hatreds can exist between two nations who live side by side – such as between Irish and English or between Swede and Norwegian.  This sort of conflict existed between these two nations.

Most Jews would travel around Samaria, and never pass through the middle.  It was safer and more familiar.

I have friends who hate cities and never travel through the middle.  They take the freeway around the city.  How boring is that.  Every McDonalds and every Home Depot looks alike from the freeway.  But people and neighborhoods within cities are always changing and always interesting.

Jesus passed through Samaria – which was easier than going around it.  What is the straightest line between two points?  Is it a large circle, or a straight line?

Jesus spoke with a woman there.  Now men did not speak with women and Jewish men did not talk to Samaritan women.  It was not done.  Jesus did it.  But this was also easier.  Jesus could have climbed down a rope into the well, took some water and climbed out, but wasn’t it easier to ask this stranger for water?  Yes, I think so.

Jesus made lots happen because he did not let fears and frontiers scare him away.

Facing Issues.  Now let me list you what things Jesus spoke with the Woman about in these few verses:

  1. Jacob and his well
  2. Living water
  3. The woman’s multiple husbands
  4. Jewish vs. Samaritan worship (aka Religion)
  5. True Worship
  6. The Holy Spirit in conversion.
  7. Who is the messiah?

By my count they covered seven difficult issues.  For example if it were an Islamic Woman we might discuss Isaac and Ishmael.  Living water is a very spiritual concept.  Speaking of someone’s failed marriages or relationships is not calculated to make friends.  Religious differences are to be avoided in public.  Have you heard of the worship wars between hymns and choruses? What of those between Jerusalem and Samaria?  The Holy Spirit, now there is an easy subject for conversation, as is the Messiah.

Jesus did not avoid these. He did not paper them over.  He spoke simply and wisely about these.  Is it hard?  I think it is hard to live a life of ignorance. And it is hard to live a life where we ignore the issues that people talk about.  If you are a thinking person, and if you have been listening in church, bible study and in your own reading, you have thought about many of these things.

Is it so hard to speak of them?  No, it is hard to shut up all the time.  At least for me it is!


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