DON'T TALK TO ME, GOD!
"Now Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that He was gaining and baptizing more disciples than John -- although in fact it was not Jesus who baptized, but His disciples. So He left Judea and went once more to Galilee. Now He had to go through Samaria. So He came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob's well was there, and Jesus, tired as He was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon." John 4:1-6 (NIV).
Quite a detailed introduction to his story, isn't it?
John sets the scene for us -- Jesus, gaining so much popularity that the Pharisees were starting to take notice, left Judea and returned to Galilee. Instead of the usual route through Transjordan to avoid any contact with Samaritans, He went through Samaria.
Why did the Jews take the trouble to avoid travelling through Samaria? They would have had to buy food and possibly accept hospitality from Samaritans and that was an absolute no-no to a Jew. They were so prejudiced against Samaritans because they were a mixed race that to have any contact with them was abhorrent.
To add insult to injury, the Samaritans occupied territory that was significant to the Jews. Their revered ancestors' footprints were all over this ground. Jacob, Joseph -- these were the great patriarchs of their nation but the land was now polluted with half-breeds. They were so bigoted that they would not even put their feet on the land occupied by these intruders.
What was the origin of these hated Samaritans? When the Assyrians overran the northern kingdom of Israel in 722 BC, they took the best of the Israelites captive to Assyria and repopulated the land with people from other conquered nations. These immigrants intermarried with the poorest of the Israelites who were left behind, resulting in the mixed race the Jews despised. The religion of the Samaritans was a mixture of Judaism and the religion of the non-Israelites imported to populate the land.
But Jesus, unlike His compatriots, wasn't eaten up with racial prejudice.
He was hot and tired. When He reached the town of Sychar, He stopped to rest beside the town's well in the middle of the day. The disciples left Him to buy food in the town. Was He just resting or was He hoping that someone would come to the well and give Him water? Did He have some sort of foreknowledge that a woman who needed Him would come there to draw water or was it just a coincidence that she arrived while He was sitting there?
"When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, 'Will you give me a drink?' (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food). The Samaritan woman said to Him, 'You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?' (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans)." John 4:7-9 (NIV).
Jesus' question startled the woman. She was expecting either to be ignored or insulted by this well-dressed Jew. His friendly manner and simple request took her by surprise. Her reaction was to protest. 'What's it with you?' she asked. 'How can you, a Jewish man ask me, a Samaritan woman, for water? Don't you know that you will be polluted by touching my water jar? How can you even talk to me? Don't you know who I am?'
This woman obviously knew her place. Her lifestyle and reputation as well as her status as a Samaritan woman had caused her to build a wall around herself. She expected to be treated badly because that was what she deserved. Any kindness, especially from a man, was foreign to her and almost offended her. Abuse cemented and justified her opinion of herself.
This woman's reaction to Jesus reflects the typical human way of evaluating ourselves and our fellow humans. We use our behaviour as the measure of our worth. Take the way we treat our children, for example. Performance is the standard. Children are branded "naughty" when they misbehave, "stupid" when they act foolishly or produce poor grades at school or "useless" when they reveal their immaturity, and they live up to the image projected onto them.
Jesus never responded to people according to their behaviour. Their behaviour was a reflection of what they thought of themselves, not of what He thought of them. He valued them as children of God created in His image. He treated them with dignity and respect and influenced them to become who they really were, sons and daughters of God who were created to reflect Him.
That how He sees you. It's okay! You can talk to Him.
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