The Woman of Samaria
The conversion of the Samaritan woman excited not only the heavens but stirred the earth as well, for the entire city was moved in no small way. This woman of Samaria is representative of the saved sinner, and the phases she underwent in her spiritual encounter are typical of the experiences of every repentant sinner. Many of these are exemplary, and call for our emulation. A total of six phases outline the progress from her initial rejection to her receiving of the abundant life.
The historical account saw the Samaritan woman assuming an attitude of rejection when Jesus struck a conversation with her. Jesus had just begun, “Give me to drink”, breaking the ice before venturing into the gospel, when the woman found reason to reject him saying, “How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, a Samaritan woman?” From ages past, sinners have been the same. They would exhaust every possible excuse for rejecting the Lord. Citing problems of all kinds, geographical, national, chronological, environmental, emotional, they would formulate reasons for resisting the grace of salvation.
Faced with rejection from the woman, Jesus nevertheless pressed on to unfold the gospel of salvation. First, she ought to know the Saviour who could give living water, so he said, “If thou knowest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given the living water.” (vs 10). This, alas, received a doubtful response. She was not persuaded to believe in his power - “Sir, thou has nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: whence then hast thou that living water?” She even suspected his very authority - “Art thou greater than our father Jacob?” In comparing Jesus with a great saint of the past, she betrayed her carnality, her lack of spiritual insight. Men of the world are presently perceiving things in like manner, which leads to their distrust in God’s almightiness, or His salvation. Many stop short of believing Jesus to be the Saviour of the world, regarding him to he at most a sage or a sainted being whose life on earth exemplified perfection. The fearful consequence of this is that in cleaving to their unbelief, they forfeit themselves of eternal bliss. Women of Samaria are reckoned to have extraordinary shrewdness and in this instance of a God-given opportunity, and this one seized hold of it earnestly.
Jesus persisted through the rejection and doubt, and patiently continued, “Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst, … (it) shall become in him a well of water springing up unto eternal life.” The critical factor of the woman’s conversion was the humility in her seeking. Not only must she inquire about tile fount of eternal life, she must also by all means acquire it. So she asked with all meekness: “Sir, give me this water, that 1 thirst not, neither come all the way hither to draw” (vs 15). What precious faith! This matron had the knowledge of her own desperate need and the wisdom to seek fulfilment. The Bible’s promise of blessing could not fail her, for it is written: “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you” (Mt 7:7). We have been eye-witnesses also of many of God’s children obtaining the eternal blessing, hut it is lamentable that many today still lack the humble and submissive heart to seek and ask, finding their lot in eternal toil and thirst.
Recognition And Confession Of Sin
In answer to the woman’s request for living water, Jesus replied: “Go, call thy husband, and come hither” (vs 16). This Jesus had done to induce confession, for she was hushandless, yet having five husbands. Having her sin brought to light generated faith in her, for she declared: “Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet.” The woman admitted her faults, and she trusted, obeyed, and advanced to recognise Jesus as a prophet. This is the result of her humble, repentant attitude, which brings her into reverence and faith toward the Lord. We see hordes of worldlings today who, though having their sins exposed by the illumination of truth, refuse to yield to humble themselves in contrition, and to prostrate themselves before the One who is able to grant pardon. On the contrary they harden their hearts, standing forever on the platform of pitiable contempt, even while the Saviour is beckoning, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Mt 11:28). We watch with regret multitudes that avoid the spiritual fount of living water, roving great distances only to attempt at broken cisterns to satisfy their never ending thirst. This foolish endeavour to satiate the soul with worldly means is destined to disappointment. That inner prompting of the Samaritan woman, which entreated her to recognize and confess her faults, is therefore very precious, for it opened to her the fount of life.
Trust And Obedience
When Jesus had finished dealing with the problem of sin, he continued to instruct the woman in the truth, expounding on the importance of true spiritual worship. He pointed out the mistakes of her former faith which hinged on externalities - worship on the mountain or at Jerusalem - but lacking in conduct. The woman exhibited willingness to trust and obey, saying : “I know that Messiah cometh; when he is come, lie will declare unto us all things” (vs 25). Jesus corrected her attitude of procrastination and revealed, “I that speak unto thee am he” (vs 26). Jesus had corrected some of her errors : attitude of worship, procrastination, inadequate knowledge of the Saviour. Such amendments went a long way to inculcate in her a strong sense of trust and obedience. There are many sinners now who, though having heard the gospel, fail to learn the way of trust, looking forward indefinitely to days ahead in the hope that things may change for the better, totally unaware that the Saviour is right before their eves and that such an encounter with him is an immeasurable blessing. But God he thanked that many have, on the other hand, received the Lord’s grace, leaping in elation just as this Samaritan woman did.
As the narration tells us, the woman, after receiving the Lord’s teaching, “left her waterpot, and went away into the city”. What a change within such a short span of time! She who had initially refused even the request for a little drinking water now forsook her entire waterpot, for she had found something even more precious than her earthern vessel. In the thirteenth chapter of Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus told the parables of the hidden treasure and the goodly pearls, which, when found, caused their finders to sell all that they had to acquire them. Paul the Apostle, when he found Christ, forsook all things, counting them but dung (Phil 3:8). One who has truly caught a glimpse of Christ would certainly find great transformation in his temperament, thoughts, and actions. Consider this woman, who at the outset regarded Jesus as merely another chauvinistic Jew, but after having been enlightened about the fount of eternal life, she began to address him ‘Sir’ and progressed to ‘prophet’ and ‘Christ’. God’s mighty power is manifestly seen throughout her marked sequential transformation.
Why did the woman leave her waterpot and enter the city to do? To witness that Jesus was the Christ and proclaim her own encounter with him; “Come, see a man, who told me all things that ever I did : can this be the Christ?” Apart from proclaiming the Lord’s power, proving that he was the Christ, she beckoned to the masses, “Come, See!” Then the people started pouring out of the city to meet Jesus. Every Christian who has been redeemed and saved by God should not just acknowledge Jesus as the Christ and publish His holy name, but should also lead a life of good testimony, thereby causing others to know Christ and come to Him.
The woman of Samaria conducted herself in an exemplary manner after her conversion. Every believer should likewise live this kind of abundant life. May God have mercy on us and help us to progress daily in our spiritual life, so as to allow rivers of living water to flow from within us, reaching out to our fellow-men as effective witnesses, to the glory of His name..