The Samaritan woman   Leave a comment

samaritan

Samaritan woman

I was having an interesting discussion with a friend recently. She rightly pointed out an attitude I had against homosexuals which was not Christ-like in a post here. The discussion was about homosexuals and from what I read in Romans 1, I associated the words Paul used with them:

“Godless, wickness, pervert, have a depraved mind, God’s wrath is on them, foolish and darkened heart, have shameful lusts, inflamed with lust, filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips,slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil…”

You might say that all these appear to be judgmental. It actually does. For example, Paul judged in 1 Cor 5:

It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that even pagans do not tolerate: A man is sleeping with his father’s wife. And you are proud! Shouldn’t you rather have gone into mourning and have put out of your fellowship the man who has been doing this? For my part, even though I am not physically present, I am with you in spirit. As one who is present with you in this way, I have already passed judgment in the name of our Lord Jesus on the one who has been doing this.”

Let me put it clear from the beginning that the Lord has not defended us to pass on judgment but warned us that we will be judge with the measure we used. In 1 Cor 6, Paul also mentioned that we’ll also judge angels and that we should judge when necessary.

Jesus has been judging the Pharisees and cursing them many times(Mat 23).

His teaching on judging was this:

Do not judge, or you too will be judgedFor in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” Matthew 7

We should be wise in judging. We should look in our hearts if we have a plank before judging others. Paul judged because discipline was needed.  He did not tolerate immoralities but still he had a kind heart and gave himself to care for most people he could. He became like a Jew to win the Jews and lived like a gentile to win the gentiles.

I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible.” 1 Cor 9:19.

He went to preach to great sinners, to gentiles, to idolaters with a heart of love. He spoke the truth in love. Paul did not minimise the gravity of the sins but also put a lot of emphasis on God’s solution. People need to know that they are sinners and that God’s wrath is on them. We should not try to dilute this truth in order to be kind. It’s because of this very reason Jesus died on a cross and that people need to repent. God is love, right, but also Holy and does not tolerate sin. God loves the sinners but hates the sin. If people do not understand the gravity of their sinful state, they won’t find the importance of Christ and repentance. It was because of such sins like homosexuality that God’s wrath poured out on Sodom and Gomorrah.

Then the Lord said, “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know.” Gen 18:20

Sometimes Christians want to be kind and tolerant with sins. This should not be so, this is not what Jesus and Paul did.

So far, what I have discussed up till now was my way of reasoning before this discussion with this friend. I was looking on only one side of the coin and neglected the love part.

This sister made me realise the other side of the coin. As much as I put emphasis on the gravity of the sin, the more should I describe God’s mercy and grace.

The story of the Samaritan woman came to my mind. The samaritans were hated by Jews. When the Jews wanted to insult Jesus, they could not find any better words than calling Him a Samaritan and demon-possessed.

 “The Jews answered him, “Aren’t we right in saying that you are a Samaritan and demon-possessed?

Jesus dared to talk with a samaritan. Not only that, this samaritan was a sinful woman.

I saw Jesus showing both sides of the coin. He showed the woman that she was sinful and also gave her hope. This is the attitude we should adopt. The gospel is about both message. If we put emphasis on only one aspect and neglect another, we cannot be effective witnesses.

Let me explain: If you sent me 2 weeks ago to evangelise to homosexuals, they would feel condemned and not really feel Jesus’ love. They would have been on their defense.

If you sent someone who did not want to talk about the sin but just wanted to be kind, the homosexuals would hear about a Jesus who loves but won’t realise why they need Him. They need to realise that they are sinners in order to understand God’s love. This is why we have many people going to church and do not know what Christ did for them. They never realised how sinful they were before knowing Christ. They cannot understand what grace and mercy really mean because they did not experience it. They only know this God who is abounding in grace but don’t want to hear about this God who also has anger against sin. When you talk about God’s wrath or sinful behaviors they say that you’re judgmental and legalistic.
While Jesus taught, some disciples left Him and said:

Many of his disciples said, “This is very hard to understand. How can anyone accept it?”Jesus was aware that his disciples were complaining, so he said to them, “Does this offend you?” John 6:60

Sometimes the truth will definitely hurt those who do not want to accept it. But the truth is the truth and we cannot afford to dilute it.

But let’s bear in mind that there’re some who will accept the truth joyfully and others reject it:

At this point many of his disciples turned away and deserted him. Then Jesus turned to the Twelve and asked, “Are you also going to leave?”Simon Peter replied, “Lord, to whom would we go? You have the words that give eternal life. We believe, and we know you are the Holy One of God.” John 6:66

See well that Jesus was not forcing anyone to remain with Him. This is why He asked His disciples if they also wanted to leave. God is not a beggar. Jesus never made it easy for someone to come to Him. In fact He said that narrow is the way. When He asked the young rich man to sell everything and follow Him, He was not joking or fearing to lose a rich follower.

Jesus came for Israel and at this time was not sent to Samaritans (but after His death, grace was bestowed on everyone). Basically, this woman did not deserve to have a talk with Jesus. Jesus started the conversation with the Samaritan woman and asked her some water. A jew asking an impure Samaritan to drink from her impure jar?

The Samaritan’s reaction was quick and natural:

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.)”

This remembers me that some people who are looked down by the society. This was the case by the Samaritans.

Jesus continued the conversation by pointing to God and himself:

Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”

Jesus showed the woman something He had:

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

The woman realised that Jesus had something she had not and she wanted it:

The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”

Many people in the world see that we Christians are joyful, have peace and love and want what we have.

As soon as Jesus saw that He got her attention, He pointed to her sins boldly. He told her in detail her sins and what she did. This is one side of the coin.

Jesus told her:

The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”

As soon as the woman saw that Jesus unveiled her sins she realised that Jesus was a spiritual man.

Then Jesus gave her hope.

“Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.

Jesus told her “YOU” will worship the Father(even if she was still in a state of sin). Jesus also answered the questions she had regarding worshiping God. Do we  Christians answer questions which unbelievers have?

Jesus finally also told her what was equally important, that He is the Messiah. Not only Jesus pointed out her sins, but He gave her a solution.

Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.”

This discussion might have been difficult if the disciples were there. The disciples would have probably put this woman ill-at-ease. Individual discussion regarding one’s sinful state is often more fruitful than group discussion. For example, as soon as the disciples came, the woman left.

Yes, Jesus showed her one side of the coin which is sin.

Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did.

The woman also saw hope when Jesus showed her the other side of the coin i.e. He is the solution:

“Could this be the Messiah?”

Just because Jesus wisely and rightly showed the woman her sins and gave her hope, this woman publicly confessed that she was a sinner and discovered God’s grace. This woman had a testimony. Many people who go to church don’t have a testimony. They believe in Jesus just because their parents were Christians or some non-personal reasons. They do not know Jesus personally or ever met with Him. The samaritans who heard the woman’s testimony also believed because they themselves heard Jesus speak. This is how we can be effective in evangelism! This is the Good News! We need to show both sides of the coin – Sin/God’s wrath and Jesus/Grace.

Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. And because of his words many more became believers.

They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.”

Did you see that these Samaritans confessed that Jesus is the savior of the world? They realised they were sinners and found in Him their solution, their savior! Yeah it’s when we realise we are sinners that we find the value of having a Savior like Jesus.

This friend and sister (which later became my wife)  made me realise that I was not right to point to only one aspect. Even if God hates this sin of homosexuality, He still wants all men to be saved. Jesus came for the sick. Anyone, no matter how sinful he is can receive grace like this Samaritan woman.

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