In fact, Jesus didn’t need to go through Samaria at all. There were other routes that he could have taken that would have avoided the difficulty of traversing Samaritan territory and the unpleasant possibility that he might meet a Samaritan. Samaritans and Jews were not on friendly terms and did not associate with each other (v 9). However John says, he had to go through Samaria. He had someone to see and a vital message to share! His approach in bringing his message of salvation to this woman provides a strong and helpful lesson. He does something unimaginable! He speaks to her! She’s not just a woman—she’s a Samaritan woman!
Now, notice how he begins! He could have commenced by drawing attention to their differences. But instead, he seeks the common ground—something they both acknowledged and accepted. It was Jacob’s well. The woman needed water and had come to the well to draw. So, Jesus asks her for a drink. And the conversation goes from there. The well and its water provided temporary relief, but the living water which only he could offer her, provided eternal remedy. This is why ‘he HAD TO go through Samaria’. In fact, so engaging and enthralling is the subsequent conversation that she forgets why she came and leaves her water pot behind (see v 28)! It was with great excitement that she returned to her village and people to tell them about Jesus. The end of this story—he stays with them for 2 days and ‘many became believers’ (v 39-41).
We live in a world of people with empty water pots. We could commence by drawing attention to our differences, or (as often occurs) those things in which we DON’T believe! But we share common ground. Like we once were, they are now. They are thirsting for the ‘living water’ that only Jesus can provide. Most don’t realise how thirsty they are—or that they’re thirsty at all! So how do we engage our neighbours and friends on the message of hope that the Gospel provides. Try the positive approach which Jesus took—find the common ground; address the issues that represent the empty water pot!
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