Reading John 4:4-42
Beyond the Text: Samaritans
Samaria was destroyed by the Assyrians in 722 B.C. but was resettled by pagan people to replace the Israelites. “Each national group made its own gods in the several towns where they settled… They worshiped the LORD, but they also
served their own gods in accordance with the customs of the nations from which they had been brought.” The Samaritans stemmed from a mixture of surviving North Israelites (Jews) with various foreigners – people from Babylon, Cuthah, Avva, Hamath, and Sepharvaim (see 2 Kings 17). The Samaritans were forbidden to help build the temple in Jerusalem (Ezekiel 4:3-4) so they set up their own temple on Mount Gerizim (the site actually commanded by Moses for the temple according to their understanding of Deuteronomy 12:5. These bad feelings continued—in 128 B.C. John Hyrcanus, a Jewish high priest, invaded Samaria and destroyed their temple. Later the Samaritans sneaked into the temple in Jerusalem and defiled it by scattering corpses all around. In the days Jesus walked the earth, the Jews had no dealings with Samaritans (John 4:9). Many strict Jews would walk the long way to get to their destination to avoid walking though Samaria. The Samaritans considered themselves Jews but they worshiped in their own distinctive way. They were devoted to the Law and kept the festivals. They expected the coming of a prophet (see Deuteronomy 18:15-19). They did not acknowledge the Jerusalem temple. The used their own version of the Pentateuch (first five books of the Bible). Some scholars believe they did not believe in the resurrection of the dead.
The story of the Woman of Samaria or the Woman at the Well is the longest documented discussion a person had with Jesus that we find in the Bible. What does this say about salvation?
What was the woman’s response when Jesus asked for water? Why? (v. 9)
When Jesus spoke of living water, what was the woman’s focus? (v. 11)
When the woman asked for the water Jesus offered, what was her reason? (v. 15)
Jesus mentioned the woman had five husbands and was now living with a man that was not her husband. How did the woman react to His statement? (v. 19-20)
The woman stated that she knew the Messiah was coming. Jesus’ response was “I who speak to you am He” (v. 26). Jesus did not travel around professing that He is the Messiah. Why was this situation different than others?
Theme Discussion – Barriers
Peter, Andrew, James and John were fisherman. They left behind their fishing nets to follow Jesus. In verse 28, we read that the woman left her water jar and went into the town to tell people to come and see Jesus. The water jar was valuable to the woman (for daily water needs, costly to replace). To be in a closer relationship with Jesus, one must leave behind the past (sin) and remove any barriers. One of the devil’s greatest joys is to keep us surrounded by barriers to keep our eyes off of Jesus, to keep our eyes out of the Word and to keep our mouth from proclaiming the Good News.
Approaching this woman at the well broke many barriers. What barriers did Jesus break?
We can see two sides of the spectrum when we look at Jesus and the woman from Samaria. Jesus represents grace, the woman represents law. Jesus represents everlasting life. The woman represents everyday life. When Jesus mentioned her situation (living in sin), she changed the conversation from relationship to religion. How do we put up barriers? How can we be a bridge?
When she understood Who Jesus is, what did she do? What happened when the barriers were removed and the eyes were opened? (v 28-30, 39-42).
What barriers keep you from being in a closer relationship with Jesus?