Please click the pictures to visit my other blogs:
Jewel in Cambodia Scarves for Cambodia Journals for the Journey

Thursday, September 28, 2006

a racial barrier, a social barrier, and a gender barrier.

John 4:1-42(click to read passage)

Three things about this woman seem to put her at a disadvantage. First, she is a Samaritan. Second, she is guilty of sexual immorality, and third, she is a woman. She hides her shame by coming to the well during the hot part of the day when nobody else would be around. Jesus, however, is waiting for her. He meets her, and He calls out to her.

Samaritans are both a religious and an ethnic group. I am no scholar, I am no theologian, I am hardly knowledgeable in this area, but I do know the relationship between the Jews and the Samaritans is a broken one. Long story short a large group of Jews were taken as captives by Assyria. Mixing ethnic populations of captured nations (the Jews) had been instituted by an earlier Assyrian king to diminish chances of rebellion among conquered people. This resulted in the formation of a hybrid race, who came to be known as the Samaritans. Thus the Jews not taken into captivity regarded this new race of Samaritans as mongrels or half-breeds and were not regarded as Jewish. I would compare this relationship to the feuding between street gangs in LA or New York. Jesus is a Jew, this woman is a Samaritan, and according to custom, they shall not associate.
The “woman at the well” is a woman whose sins are apparent. Mixed up with a wrong crowd, this poor woman from Samaria has quite a reputation. In Bible days, husbands divorced their wives, wives did not divorce their husbands. If this woman was married and divorced five times, then five men divorced her. How must she feel about herself?? And the man she is now living with is not her husband. She isn’t even married this time, but just living with (or sleeping with) a man, perhaps another woman’s husband. It appears as if the men of Sychar are quite corrupt in their own ways, but this woman is looked down upon in society due to her way of sinful living.
The third thing which puts the “woman at the well” at a disadvantage is the simple fact that she is a woman. According the John the disciples do not appear to be shocked because they find Jesus talking to this Samaritan woman because she is a Samaritan, or because she is sinful (which they probably are unaware of), but simply because she is a woman. The Jews were inclined to hold a very demeaning view of women, and it appears the disciples (THE DISCIPLES) seem to embrace this view as well. They cannot fathom why Jesus would be “wasting His time” talking to a woman.
Jesus broke the boundaries placed by society. Jesus came into the world (1 Tim. 1:15), He did not become of the world. He didn't/doesn't care who you are, He knows you need His love. Jesus didn't just tell us to "go into all the world and preach the gosple" (Matt 28:19), He did it too! Jesus, among many other titles, was a missionary. Thus this story is of interest to me. The love of Jesus is for people of every race, class, and gender.
And I continue on... John chapter 4 verse 4 says that "Now He [Jesus] had to go through Samaria." Jews often bypassed Samaria, the land of the Samaritans. Politically, Samaria was not a distinct region, but its culture and religion were definitely distinct from that of Israel. Jesus 'had to go through Samaria' because He knew there was a lost soul, a woman rejected by many, but cared for my God. He went into foreign land for 1 person, 1 person very unlike Himself. And continue reading to see that this woman returns to Sychar and says to the people, "Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?" )vs 28). And what happens?? Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in Him because of the woman's testimony. The disciples (THE DISCIPLES) return from the very same town (Sychar) with no followers, zero. But wait, weren't the disciples the closest followers of Jesus? If the people of Sychar were ripe and ready to be sown, why didn't the disciples see that and bring them to Jesus?
Like I said, I am no scholar, I am no theologian, I am hardly knowledgeable. I've done a little research, listened in Bible class some, and thought alot. More to come on other topics.