Saturday, July 31, 2010

Day 14: Jesus Travels Through Samaria

There are two verses here that are the basis of songs that I know...I love finding such verses!

John 4:13-14 "Jesus answered, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." I' not sure of the name of this song, but it has a line in the chorus that starts "Spring up, oh, well..."

John 4:24

"God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth."
This song is from The 12 Canticles composed by Randall Thompson and dedicated to Emory & Henry's Concert Choir. We sang it as part of our tour(s) when I was in college.

~*~When I was working on this the other day, I got off on a tangent once I started researching these songs! Then we went out of town on a small vacation, so finally I'm back to the article at hand! ~*~

Here's some very relevant history that is important to understanding the relationship of the Biblical Jews and the Samaritans:
Jesus must make a decision that all Jews had to make when traveling between Judea and Galilee. The most direct route would forth them to go through Samaria. The alternate route would take them more than 2 days longer through an area called the Decapolis. This cluster of ten towns was mostly Gentile and extremely pagan. They had to pass by pagan statuaries and monuments that were very offensive to any Jew. However, to go through Samaria was also deeply offensive because of over 700 years of alienation.
It began in 722 BC. The Assyrians, under the leadership of a general named Sargon II conquered the northern kingdom and its capital, Samaria. they took Jewish captives back to Assyria, with the exception of some who hid in the mountains nearby. These stragglers stayed in Samaria and eventually intermarried with non-Jews who traveled through the area. Children were born as a result of those unions and eventually, a half-breed race developed. True Jews considered any marriage outside their race a sacrilege and would do anything to avoid contact with a Samaritan half-breed. Samaritans would not worship in Jerusalem and had set up their own temple on Mount Gerizim, the place where Moses had given a blessing to Israel as they came out of Egypt. They believed in the law, but only the first five books of the Torah (also called the Tanakh). They did not believe in the prophets.
Sidebar p. 50: Samaritans believed in the law but not the prophets. they also refused to worship at the temple in Jerusalem or attend the sacred festivals held there. They worshipped in a temple they had erected at the base of Mount Gerizim at Sychar. They even scratched through references to Jerusalem in the sacred writings and wrote "Mt. Gerizim" in its place.

What does Jesus' decision to go through Samaria tell you about Him?
I think it tells us that he loves them even though their ancestors had made some not-so-great decisions. He is willing to let bygones be bygones and embrace them as people who deserve attention and respect.

Having been trained in phariasaic Judaism, what do you imagine the disciples would have done if they had stayed with Jesus rather than going for lunch?
They would have told Jesus not to speak to her, or at least would have stood by and looked incredulous!

Step into the Woman's Sandals: You are coming to get water at noon rather than in the early morning or end of the day when all of the other women come. You have been unsuccessful in marriage five times. Wild rumors have circulated about the failed marriages, but only you know the reasons why. You are currently unmarried and living with a man. The gossip around town is unbearable, and you are shunned by the women. As this woman, would you not come at an hour when no other women would be at the well? Would you not be interested if someone told you He knows of a way you would never have to come back to this well again and feel the stares of the others critically boring into on you? Through Jesus speaks of a "Water that can refresh your soul forever," you are only capable at this point of thinking on a physical level.

Why do you think the woman continues talking to Jesus?
She wants to hear more about this living water that never runs dry. She doesn't really understand what he is talking about, but Jesus knows this about her and knows that this will get her listening!

Jewish tradition stated that a woman may be divorced a maximum of three times. Understanding the Jewish perspective is critical. Divorce was only the prerogative of the man, therefore we know that if a divorce occurred, it was initiated by her husband. However, we can't necessarily assume that she was a terrible wife. The school of Shammai stated that divorce was legitimate only in cases of unfaithfulness. The more liberal school of Hallel said that a man could divorce a woman for almost any reason, from burning his breakfast to seeing another woman at the market whom he thought was more attractive than his wife. She could well have been the victim of some egotistical morons who divorced her for selfish reasons. Also, the inability of the woman to bear children was the most frequent cause of divorce in antiquity; the woman was often considered to be paying the price for her past sins...This could well have been the reason for one or more of her divorces. But, what about the other husbands? For all we know, they may have died (without even asking her permission)...Keep in mind that the penalty for adultery was stoning, so had she been known as a promiscuous woman, as most people assume, she would have been executed long ago. Jesus was probably the only one who knew.
Sidebar p. 51: Though Jesus does not condone the fact that the woman is living with her boyfriend, He sees much deeper into the pain that drove her there. To understand and to empathize is not necessarily to condone (my emphasis added). When hope is lost, people tend to seek any avenue of retreat to assuage the pain. Jesus does not lecture her about her sin, He simply reveals Himself to her and everything changes.

Ooooh, so true! Some good stuff coming up here!!

ASSUMPTIONS! When we label someone, we put the person in a box from which it can be impossible to escape. It takes the potential of forgiveness and redemption out of the equation. This woman had undoubtedly made some critical mistakes, but have we assumed more negatives about her than the evidence supports? Jesus did not see a promiscuous woman. He saw a woman battered and scarred by her past, a woman who had lost hope. He longed to help her rather than write her off and label her as unfit for the kingdom (my emphasis added).

Have you ever had a personal experience like this or known someone who has been labeled or defined a certain way without people knowing the whole story?
Yes, yes, yes, yes!! I'm STILL dealing with ramifications of this instance that happened 16 years ago! 1 person in particular STILL has me in a box. Not that it matters in the scheme of my life, but sadly, she does.

Sidebar p.52: Many things can be learned from this encounter. Hopefully we will not miss the fact that Jesus neither condoned the woman's current indiscretion nor did He make her behavior the focal point of the problem. Unhealthy relationships are symptomatic of heart issues. Too often we define people by their behavior. This story screams out to us: "Deal with the person, not what the person has done!" (my emphasis added)

Doesn't this speak directly to what we in the church are dealing with today?? We are to LOVE the sinner and hate the sin. Too often all we see is the sin and not the person. We want to send them away, thinking their sin is greater than our own. We may not understand their situation or lifestyle, but ostracizing them is certainly not going to help them think we are anything but righteous and judgmental. Lord, help us to do better! Work in me, and let me live the way You would have me to live!!

Other than the woman running to tell the townspeople what happened to her, how do we know that something radical happened to the woman? Verse 28 says,"She left ___________." What does this indicate to us?

She left her jar! She was so excited that she forgot what that for which she came to the well!