Plain Talk to a Despised People

The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.” Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.” (John 4:25–26, NIV)

Could a despised people like the Samaritans ever find the true God? Certainly! In fact, the true God found them… well… one of them initially — then many more. You see, when Jesus decided to travel from Judea to Galilee, he chose a route that would take him through Samaria — not around Samaria… and this was odd. The more publically holy Jews went out of their way to avoid any contact with a Samaritan — but Jesus came to save, not to avoid. And instead of finding people worthy of the Jewish hatred, he found in them a knowledge of the Christ, a knowledge of their common heritage, and a faith that God would complete his messianic program.

Unlike the “pure” Jews who were not quite sold on Jesus, the Samaritan woman accepted Jesus easily. True, he performed the miracle of telling her, a stranger, the details of her life. But I think that his patience and a tender care won the day. After all, why should he — a man no less, a Jew no less... and the Messiah no less! ... take the time to speak to a lowly woman of such a despised people?

Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman-at-the-well is one of the most well-known accounts of Jesus’ life. Believers use this passage to illustrate a range of topics including Jesus’ love, his reaching beyond the Jewish people, his forgiving of a despised nation, and soul-winning at the hands of the Master. However, this story contains the clearest declaration that Jesus was indeed the Messiah… but without a Jew in sight!

Back among his own people, Jesus almost “teased” them about his messiahship. Although his miracles spoke loudly that he was from God, and although he testified that God had sent him, and although his transfiguration and baptism were visited with God’s audible voice — the people still held him at arm’s length!

“The Jews who were there gathered around him, saying, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.”” (John 10:24)  

By way of contrast, look at how plainly he revealed himself to this despised woman. They were speaking of the Messiah when he told her:

“I, the one speaking to you—I am he.” (John 10:26)

What I find it interesting in Jesus’ encounter with this woman is that he chose a miracle of communication, and not one of the more “powerful” miracles — like healing a blind man. In my opinion, Jesus did not need to use a heavy hand, because her heart was ready. Contrast this with his performing the more overt miracles in view of the embedded religionists; their hearts were hardened — and some to the point of damnation (Matthew 12:30-32)! But not our girl. Her heart was open to the things of God — and openness makes all the difference — then and now.

You see, in God’s eyes, there are no people that are more despised than another people; we have all come short of the glory of God. But the woman-at-the-well was different… and not just in her well-known lifestyle. She was open, honest, humble — and excited at the prospect of the Christ visiting with her. No wonder Jesus told her plainly! No wonder she ran back into town to share the best news that was ever told!

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