My Thoughts . . .
Have you ever been in a situation where you knew you needed to do something, but your action would end in an embarrassing way? Although, you felt you should do it, you justified not doing so because fear ruled rather than faith? Jesus found himself in such situations more than once. He did the right thing, but due to our imperfections, we do not always follow.
Jesus and the apostles were traveling through forbidden territory. Most Jews in their right mind did not choose that “shortcut.” Most Jews did not want to be on that route and people living there were bold in telling them they did not have a right to be there. They were close to the city of Sychar where Jacob’s well was located. Food was needed, Jesus was tired, so he remained, and they went into town to buy food. John does not relate what their reception was like, but can you imagine buying from people who do not want to sell to you? This attitude is described by John when a Samaritan woman came to draw water. Jesus requested a drink (John 4:8).
Imagine the woman’s surprise when she saw a Jew at the well. She would draw her water and leave as quickly as possible. She would ignore his presence. Jesus forgot cultural taboos and asked her for a drink. She knew he had broken through the forbidden wall of culture on three levels (v.9). First, he was speaking to a Samaritan. Second, he was addressing a female. And third, he was willing to drink water supplied by a Samaritan woman! Three strikes against him. She questioned his conduct. Jesus talked about “living water.” She misunderstood and desired this water which would relieve her from drawing the regular kind each day. Jesus continued kicking in that cultural wall by asking her to do something most Jews would never think of doing.
Jesus wanted the woman to bring her Samaritan husband. She did not have one. Jesus revealed that she had been married five times, but she was not married to the sixth man. To reveal such things without her telling him meant that he must be the Messiah. She rushed back to town talking about this unusual and strange man who identified himself as such (v.26). Did five husbands mean she had been divorced by all five or just some of them? Had she outlived all five? Was she living with the 6th man because their marriage would not be valid? Such questions were not important, so Jesus did not ask them. The disciples were surprised when they saw him talking to her upon their return.
The twelve seemed to have a difficult time understanding Jesus. He refused to eat what they had brought. He had been too tired to accompany them to buy food and now he would not eat what they had brought. They thought someone may have already fed him (v.33)? The townspeople came out to see Jesus because they surprisingly believed the excited testimony of this woman. Jesus broke another cultural “no-no” by spending two days enjoying Samaritan hospitality. Did he stay in the home of that woman and her live-in? John does not say. Would you rule out him doing so? If so, why? Can you visualize the questioning looks and conversation among the apostles? They were associating with people who did not worship where they worshiped. Their sacrifices were offered in a way that was different from the way theirs was. The Samaritans practiced customs which were foreign to the way they practice. Did they feel “unclean” during those two days? Whether they did or not, they went with Jesus?
John records this statement at the end of that visit, “After the two days he left for Galilee. (Now Jesus himself had pointed out that a prophet has no honor in his own country.)” (v. 43). They travel to Galilee and are welcomed (v. 45). Does the information of verse 43 seem strange since they were welcomed when they arrived in Galilee? Perhaps Jesus is showing the differences between what happened prior to that in his former trip to Galilee and the Samaritans acceptance of him and the fellowship they provided for Jesus and the twelve for two days?
Does anyone remember the first time a woman attended services wearing a pantsuit? Remember the uproar about her wearing what supposedly pertained to a man but did not? Did men who allowed their hair to grow over their ears suddenly find they were no longer used on the table? If a preacher did not wear a tie in the pulpit, was he criticized? When a college student entered the assembly in blue jeans and open toed sandals did some think it was scandalous? In years before that, when women wanted to vote, did the Gospel Advocate not condemn that desire and were they not accused of violating the scriptures? Were women who entered the assembly without a hat not accused of disobeying 1 Corinthians 11? History has often proved that we would not have been the best disciples of Jesus and probably been horrified at some of his actions just as the twelve were.