January 22 I Friday
“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 4:9
John 4 records the longest dialogue Jesus has with a person. The person remains unnamed throughout the conversation, but what we know is that she is a lady who lives in Samaria, so we call her “the Samaritan woman.” It is interesting that Jesus would converse with a Samaritan, as Jews did not associate with Samaritans.
This antagonism could be traced back about a thousand years before Christ, when the nation of Israel had split after the reign of King Solomon into two nations. The southern part became Judah and its capital city was Jerusalem, while the northern part was Israel and its capital city was Samaria. In 722 BC, the Assyrians set on an imperial conquest to conquer as much of the world as they could. They captured the northern kingdom of Israel, taking most of the people into exile, only leaving behind a few to look after the land. The Assyrians did not attack the southern kingdom of Judah, keeping it as a buffer state between them and the superpower of the day—Egypt. The Assyrians and Israelites who were left in the north intermarried and produced children that were neither Israelite nor Assyrian, so they became known as Samaritans. In Jesus’s day, although Israel reoccupied much of the northern area, Samaria was still a place occupied by crossbred people. The Samaritans were rejected by the Jews and had little companionship and friendship with them.
Jesus’s encounter with the Samaritan woman happened when He was tired while journeying to Galilee, and He sat by Jacob’s well in a town of Samaria called Sychar. It was during midday when the Samaritan woman came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Will you give Me a drink?” The woman responds, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can You ask me for a drink?” Jesus answers, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink…” (John 4:7-10). It is interesting that Jesus begins His response to the Samaritan woman with, “If you knew the gift of God…” Jesus makes the Samaritan woman aware that she did not know that God had a gift to give her.
What is the gift of God? There are many things that could legitimately be described as gifts from God, but Scripture specifically speaks on one occasion about “the gift of God” from Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” The gift of God is eternal life.
In a seemingly unexpected conversation, Jesus overturned centuries of prejudice and proclaimed that God was offering a gift to everyone.
Prayer: Dear Lord Jesus Christ, thank You for breaking cultural boundaries and showing that the gift of God is for everyone. Praise You!