Jesus’ Example, the Samaritan woman

woman_at_the_wellThe story of the Samaritan woman at the well is found in the fourth chapter of John’s gospel. Jesus sets the example for us by doing several things wrong here. By “wrong” I mean he didn’t follow proper procedure for first century Jewish culture. He went against the conventions of culture to share the good news.

In the first place, verse 9 tells us that Jews had no dealings with Samaritans. He shouldn’t even have been talking to her. She questioned why he addressed her at all. The Jews and Samaritans had split, and among other things disagreed about where one could even worship God (v. 20). That’s why the story of the good Samaritan is so pointed in its message; the last person to help a Jew would have been a Samaritan and vice versa. In addition to being a Samaritan, a first century Jewish man would not have started a conversation with any woman. So yes, she was quite surprised. As the story goes on, we learn more about this particular Samaritan woman. She had been married five times, and was now living with a man that was not her husband. That’s why she was at the well alone, instead of with the other women from that town. They didn’t associate with her. Perhaps she had even stolen one of their husbands. She was somewhat of an outcast in her community. The woman didn’t associate with her because they didn’t like her, and a man didn’t want to be seen talking to her for the trouble he could get into. Jesus, however, used their discussion of well water to talk about living water, and share the gospel message.

Jesus is always talking to people he shouldn’t be. The Samaritan woman is just one example. There are also tax collectors, lepers, and adultresses. Fisherman weren’t too high up on the social ladder in Jewish society either, and Jesus had a few of those guys as apostles. Jesus’ example is that labels created by society are not the same standards God uses to value a person. Think about the tax collector and Pharisee who prayed in the temple. The tax collector fell on his face and begged God for mercy. The Pharisee thanked God that he was not like other men, especially this tax collector here. Jesus said the tax collector went away righteous because he recognized his sinful condition with humility and asked God’s forgiveness. The Pharisee in his pride considered himself righteous already. Jesus teaches that no one can judge but God, and by his standards, we are all sinfully unworthy. So the value judgments society places on an individual’s worth are often ignored by Jesus. He spends most of his time talking to the working class of regular people, and away from the high-brow religious leaders of his day. Most of Jesus’ parables are about fishing, sowing seeds, herding sheep, plowing a field; manual labor. His audience is blue color, or lower. When we do find Jesus having an honest heart to heart with a Pharisee (Nicodemus, John chp. 3) he tells him they cannot discuss spiritual or heavenly things if Nicodemus doesn’t even understand earthly things. So what do we learn from Jesus’ example?

The poor, the weak, the lame, the leprous, the working class and the women that society demanded be left alone, Jesus talked to, associated with, and preached the gospel to. Those in need were the ones he shared with, not those who felt they had all they needed. They were also in need, but blinded. Who does our society avoid? Who are we “not supposed” to talk to? They too are created in the image of God just like the kings and queens of this earth. And are likely who Jesus would be spending his time with.

16 thoughts on “Jesus’ Example, the Samaritan woman

  1. PLEASE NOTE: I do not own the rights to the painting associated with this post. At one time I knew the artist’s name and could link the site at which the painting is for sale, but I can no longer find that information. The image now appears on many blogs and websites across the Internet. I now regret not giving the original artist credit.

    If you are publishing a book: The Last Supper (in my headline banner) was painted by Leonardo da Vinci during the Renaissance. It predates the laws of copyrights and is considered to be in the public domain. Just a thought.

  2. Pingback: Transformation « Hope Scribbles

  3. Pingback: Writing Dialogue with The Woman At the Well « Words Seasoned With Salt

  4. I have responded to this question before. I do not know who the original artist is. This image appears on numberous blogs and websites; at one time I knew the artists name. Sorry I can’t help you.

  5. Hi – I followed a link to your site as I was looking for info on this picture. I too found the image on the internet earlier this year and painted a reproduction of it on the exterior wall of a store in Dondo, Mozambique owned by a pastor who named his store Agua da Vida (in Portuguese – the national language) or Water of Life in English. When in the comments I read that you did not know the original artist or contact info I looked further. Here is something I found.

  6. Pingback: The Woman at the Well | Open Heart | Open Mind | Happy Life

  7. Which is the most important?
    Jesus was asked twice, by two different men, the same basic question about which is the most important or greatest commandment in the Law. Here is how Jesus answered that question:

    “One of the teachers of the law… asked him [Jesus],
    ‘Of all the commandments, which is the most important?’

    “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “ is this: ‘Hear, of Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than THESE.” [Mark 12:28-31, Deuteronomy 6:4-5, Leviticus 19:18]

    …an expert in the law, tested him [Jesus] with this question: ‘Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?’”

    Jesus replied: “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these TWO commandments.” [Matthew 22:36-40, Deuteronomy 6:5, Leviticus 19:18]

    But in contrast with Jesus, Paul the Pharisee didn’t know the greatest, most important, first commandment according to Jesus. Paul made up his own rule. Paul wrote:
    “The entire law is summed up in a SINGLE command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” [Galatians 5:14, Leviticus 19:18]

    And again, Paul wrote:
    “He who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not covet, and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this ONE RULE: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” [Romans 13:8-10, Leviticus 19:18]

    Jesus said it’s TWO commandments, with the greatest, most important, first command to
    .1) first, love God with everything you’ve got, and
    .2) second, love people.
    Paul said no, it ONE commandment- to love people.

    This is very similar to The Beatles- “All you need is love. Love is all you need. Love, Love, Love.” (In other words, the second commandment, the love of man, without the love of God. Love as me, myself and I define love to be, and continuously redefined by sinful men.)

    In essence, it is also the same principle as what Eve did in the Garden of Eden, forgetting about the Tree of Life, which is the first tree in the middle of the Garden, and instead referring to the second tree as “the tree that is in the middle of the garden.” [Genesis 3:3 & 2:9 2:17, 3:24]

    Kind of like the Pharisees with Jesus, who were pushing the false idea that we can consider ONE commandment in the Law, alone in isolation, to be “the greatest commandment in the Law.”

    Or like today, false teachers in the Chrislam – Purpose Driven – Seeker Sensitive – Emergent – Liberal – Ecumenical – New Age – world church movement pushing the false idea that the ONE RULE is “Loving God and Neighbor together.”

    The Lord God Jesus the Jewish Messiah, Son of Yahweh the Most High God of Israel, said:
    “All the Law and the Prophets hang on these TWO commandments.”
    Not one. TWO.

    Sometimes, Paul was wrong. Jesus is always right. I’m following Jesus.

    Here are answers to 2 common objections:
    .a) What about the so-called “Golden Rule”?
    Jesus spoke the 3 chapters of the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 5-7, including 7:12. Jesus didn’t make PART of this one verse out of context into “The Golden Rule” or “one rule.” Jesus did not use the term “Golden Rule,” it’s simply a tradition of men. The sentence begins with “So” in the NIV and Amplified Bibles, and “Therefore’ in the NASB and King James Bibles, which ties 7:12 to the previous sentences. So 7:12 cannot stand alone as One Commandment.

    .b) What about the so-called “Great Commission”?
    Jesus spoke the words recorded in Matthew 28:18-20, including “make disciples of all nations.” Jesus never used the term “Great Commission,” it’s simply a tradition of men. Yes I agree it’s a commandment given by Jesus, it’s not optional, and it applies to us today. We need to carry this out, with our own God-given abilities and talents, using the skills, and circumstances we have. But we don’t need to put words in the mouth of Jesus, we can let Jesus speak for himself, and we can listen to Him – and obey Him.

    Evangelism is part of the Second Commandment given by Jesus, to Love people. Evangelism is not the most important commandment, and it isn’t the entire Second Commandment. So if our priorities are “The Great Commission and the Great Commandment,” we have our priorities upside down and confused, and we are not listening to the voice of Jesus. Never mind what Paul said. Let’s listen to the voice of Jesus first, and get our priorities straight.

    The people who will protest most loudly against this truth are the modern “Pauls:” traveling evangelists, speakers, writers, abusive absentee mega-church pastors, Crusaders, and self-appointed “apostles” like Paul, who find it “profitable” to “be like Paul” rather than follow Jesus the Jewish Messiah.

  8. This was a very lengthy comment the first time you left it on another post, and now here it is again word for word. These are older posts that you are going back and leaving very lengthy, argumentative comments on. Trolling much?

  9. Dear Clark,
    Your title says “Jesus’ Example”
    Are you following Jesus’ example, or Paul’s example?

    According to Jesus, which Commandment is the Most Important?

    This is a question of fact about the content of the text in the 66 Books of our Bible. It is comparing the words of Jesus with the words of Paul (and other men) regarding which one is the Most Important Commandment and which one is the Second commandment, which together fulfill the Law and the Prophets. (Not The Law the Prophets & the Writings, not “All Scripture,” not “The whole Bible”)

    It isn’t a question of men’s opinions about “what Paul really meant” or “what Paul must have known” or “what Paul was actually referring to here” or “what Paul was clearly implying” or “what we must conclude that Paul was assuming”, etc. etc.

    These lines of reasoning all go back to the false idea that “Paul must have been right and Paul couldn’t possibly be wrong, so whatever Paul was thinking at the time must have been correct, and we just have to figure out what Paul’s intended meaning was and what Paul was really thinking when he wrote these words.” That would mean that your opinion about the unknowable unwritten “mind of Paul” becomes the “Word of God.” No. Wrong.

    Jesus is the Word of God made flesh. The words spoken by Jesus, recorded in our Bible by Matthew Mark Luke & John, should be above all other words. This has literally been the Orthodox position for almost 2000 years. Paul is inferior, Jesus is superior. The words of Jesus are superior to the words of everyone else in the Bible and to everyone else in the world. Jesus is in agreement with the Law and the Prophets and came “to fulfill them.” [Matthew 5:17-20]

    What Jesus clearly and specifically said is also superior and more important than your opinions about what you think Jesus meant or implied, but didn’t say elsewhere. For example, when Jesus was speaking about “a new command I give you,” Jesus didn’t say THE new commandment, or the FIRST commandment, or the MOST IMPORTANT commandment, or the ONE commandment, or the GREATEST commandment, or ONE RULE.

    The false teaching about “one rule” is the false teaching of the Pharisees of Paul’s day, and Paul the Pharisee was pushing this false teaching. This contradicts the clear specific teaching of Jesus about the first and greatest commandment and the second. Jesus warned us about the Pharisees in Matthew chapters 15 & 16, and quoted the Prophet Isaiah regarding them:
    “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.”
    [Isaiah 29:13]

  10. Matthew Perri, look at the original post above. It is about Jesus and his encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well. There is no mention of Paul at all, and you have now left two very lengthy comments about how Paul was wrong about everything. Do you have anything on topic to contribute?

  11. Clark, your subtitle at the top of the page under
    “The Master’s Table” is
    “God honoring, Christ Centered.”

    Are you Christ Centered, or Paul Centered?
    Most of the Evangelical church is Paul Centered.

    Can you name 3 things that Paul said, did, or wrote that were clearly wrong? If you can’t name anything specific, then Paul is really your center, not Jesus.

    I can anticipate many of your likely answers, so I will put this in below to save us both some time.

    The Evangelical “Mexican Hat Dance”

    Sin is always specific, not general.
    The “Hat” is, “What were Paul’s sins?”

    The music starts, with a cheery blast of trumpets in a melody that is familiar to most North Americans- the “Mexican Hat Dance.” (The national dance of Mexico, taught in Mexican public schools since 1921, and officially named “El Jarabe Tapatio.”)

    A couple in rather elaborate traditional costumes begins the dance. The man throws his huge sombrero hat on the floor, and the couple dances around it, but never steps on the hat. (The “Hat” is, “what were Paul’s sins?”) Here are the basic steps- (there may be one or two other basic steps, but they are very similar to these.)

    What were Paul’s sins?

    STEP 1) Paul said; “I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man.” [1 Timothy 1:13]
    (Response- Those were Saul’s sins, before Jesus called him. What were Paul’s sins as a Christian? )

    STEP 2) Paul said; “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners- of whom I am the worst.” [1 Timothy 1:15]
    (Response- Sin is alwasy specific. What were Paul’s specific sins as a Christian? )

    STEP 3) Paul said; “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” [Romans 3:23]
    (Response- Again the same question; What were Paul’s specific sins as a Christian? )

    STEP 4) Paul said; “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it.” [Philippians 3:12-13]
    (Response- They say third time’s a charm. Same question; What were Paul’s specific sins as a Christian? )

    STEP 5) Paul said; “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do- this I keep on doing.” [Romans 7:15-19]
    (Response- One more time! This is getting boring. Same question; Specifically, what were Paul’s specific sins as a Christian based on specific verses of the Bible? )

    STEP 6) LOOP- REPEAT steps 1 through 5, until your dance partner gives up, the audience gets bored, or the music stops. The rule is- never step on the “Hat,” just keep dancing around it.

    Blessings to you

  12. You are a very clever writer, I will give you that. Love the hat dance analogy. But I find this challenge troubling:

    “Can you name 3 things that Paul said, did, or wrote that were clearly wrong? If you can’t name anything specific, then Paul is really your center, not Jesus.”

    That’s a rather arbitrary rubric for determining Paul-centeredness. The Bible may not share three specific sins Paul committed as a Christian. Or it could by that you have identified three things you think are wrong that other scholars or myself would disagree on. Can YOU list three things Paul was wrong about Matthew? Maybe you’re Paul centered.

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