Word On Worship – Sunday – April 23, 2023
He left Judea and went away again into Galilee. And He had to pass through Samaria. So He came to a city of Samaria called Sychar, near the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph; and Jacob’s well was there.
One of the wonderful things about the good news Jesus brings is that it meets the basic need all people have. Since all people are sinners who need to be reconciled to the holy God, the same gospel applies to all: Jesus saves sinners who trust in Him. John 3 gives the account of Jesus’ interview with the Pharisee, Nicodemus. As a religious leader and a moral man, he was no doubt shocked by Jesus telling Nicodemus his religion was not sufficient. He needed the new birth. John 4 gives the account of Jesus’ encounter with the immoral Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well. Jesus skillfully shows her that she needs the living water that He can give. It’s the same basic message with a different metaphor.
Nicodemus and the unnamed Samaritan woman are as different as they could be. He was a Jewish man; she was a Samaritan woman. He was educated and orthodox in the Jewish faith; she was uneducated and unorthodox. He was an influential leader; she was a nobody. He was upper middle class; she was lower class. He was morally upright; she was immoral. He sought out Jesus because he recognized His merits; she had no idea who the stranger was who sought her out. He came to Jesus at night; Jesus and the woman met at noon. Nicodemus responded slowly and rationally; she responded quickly and emotionally. But Jesus loved both of them. He came to seek and to save all types of people.
It wasn’t that the woman at the well said, “Sir, you look like a Jewish rabbi. I’m hungry to know your God. Can you tell me how to do that?” She was just going about her daily chores, minding her own business, when this stranger asked her for a drink and then steered the conversation into spiritual matters. She wasn’t seeking to know God. Her guilt over her current live-in boyfriend and her five marriages, which had probably ended because of her multiple adulteries, caused her to keep her distance from God. The only explanation for this story is that Jesus was seeking a sinner who wasn’t even seeking Him.
What an amazing thing that our Lord found it necessary to pass through Samaria. Why was this? The easy answer was because God had purposed to save these Samaritans from their sins. But there is yet another reason, a very simple one: These Samaritans would not come to Jesus, Jesus had to go to them. I think there is sometimes the presumption that the unbelievers should come to us, but it is a presumption on our part, and a bad one. “Go” is an important word in the great commission, and Jesus has set the example for us. If the church is saying, “Come” to unbelievers, let us remember that our Lord says, “Go and make disciples” (Matt 28:19) to the church.