Jesus and the Woman of Samaria
The longstanding feud between the Samaritans and the Jews went back centuries. The Jews regarded the Samaritans as half-breeds, the result of Assyrian resettlement policies that caused the mixing of races (2 Kings 17:5-6, 24-41). After the return from the Babylonian exile, the Jews refused to allow the Samaritans to participate in the rebuilding of the temple (Ezra 4:1-3; Neh. 4:7), and segregation policies developed by Ezra (see Ezra 9-10) only intensified the antagonism between the two groups. During the Maccabean period, John Hyrcanus I destroyed their rival temple on Mount Gerizim (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews 12.5.5); and during the time of Christ, skirmishes frequently arose between Samaritans and Jews that had to be quelled by the Roman army (Antiquities 20.6.1-3). When Jesus was insulted, His enemies called Him a demon-possessed Samaritan (John 8:48). If these attitudes were true for Samaritans in general, then how much more were they true for Samaritan women who were considered ritually unclean from birth (Mishnah, Niddah 4:1).
When I think about this passage for Lent, I am confronted with Jesus’ compassion for the “least of these” (Matt. 25:40). Jesus completely disregards our prejudices and challenges us to see people the same way He does. Jesus is “the gift of God” (v. 10) that quenches the universal thirst for worship. However, attitudes such as un-forgiveness, self-righteousness, and hostility will hinder our worship of God. True worshipers are willing to love, accept, and validate those who are different from themselves—just as Jesus did with the Samaritan woman. He loved her and affirmed her, just the way she was, despite her faults.
Stepping Out in Lent – As we prepare for Good Friday, let’s remember that Jesus “was pierced for our transgressions” (Is. 53:5).
Author – Don Hines has attended St. Peter’s for three years and is a tenor in the choir. He is an Information Technology student at Liberty University and is an IT administrator for a nonprofit. When he is not being bossed around by his cats, he enjoys reading theology and drinking good coffee.