“Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, ‘He told me everything I ever did.’ So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. And because of his words many more became believers. They said to the woman, ‘We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world'” (John 4:39-42, NIV).
This series of devotions, Untold Tenets, captures its lessons from lesser-known and sometimes overlooked scriptures that are embedded within or immediately following a well-known bible story or biblical text.
John 4:1-42 contains the familiar story of the Samaritan woman or the woman at the well. In this story Jesus spoke the renowned “living water” declaration: “Whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (vs. 14). Jesus also explained to the Samaritan woman that “God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth” (vs. 24).
Because of the spiritual sagacity of the living-water and Spirit-and-truth-worship declarations, what may go unnoticed in this story is the strategic relevance of Jesus’ meeting with the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well near Sychar, Samaria, to His post-resurrection Great Commission to His disciples: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8, NIV).
During Jesus’ time Samaritanism was alienated from Judaism and each was antagonistic of the other. This alienation had evolved over many centuries.
Historically, the region of Samaria was land assigned to Ephraim and Manasseh, Joseph’s sons. The division of Israel in northern and southern kingdoms, the conquest of Israel (northern kingdom) by Assyria and the resulting importation of foreign colonists, the rejection of the Samaritan community by Ezra, Nehemiah and later leaders, the building of a rival temple on Mt. Gerizim and the destruction of the Samaritan temple by later Jewish leaders all contributed to the schism between Samaritans and Jews.
Additionally, the Samaritans had their own unique copy of the first five books of Scripture and their own unique system of worship, which Jesus noted in His response to the woman at the well.
Because of this flawed conformity with Judaism, the Samaritans were despised by ordinary Jews. Rather than contaminate themselves by passing through the Samaritan territory, Jews who were traveling from Judea to Galilee or vice versa would cross over the river Jordan, bypass Samaria by going through Transjordan, and cross over the river again as they neared their destination.
Clearly, Jesus seemed to have planned for a stopover in Samaria on his evangelistic tour of Palestine. He apparently considered ministry to the Samaritans an essential component of His evangelism program to the extent that He rebuffed the religious discrimination and cultural mores of both Jews and Samaritans to make a personal appearance among the Samaritans to preach the good news and teach the true worship of God.
“Those who had been scattered preached the word wherever they went. Philip went down to a city in Samaria and proclaimed the Messiah there. When the crowds heard Philip and saw the signs he performed, they all paid close attention to what he said. For with shrieks, impure spirits came out of many and many who were paralyzed or lame were healed. So, there was great joy in that city.Acts 8:4-8, NIV