Wisdom Devotionals

Unorthodox Mercy

Thursday, October 3, 2019


Therefore the Samaritan woman said to Him, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask me for a drink since I am a Samaritan woman?”(For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a Drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.” John 4:9-10

Jesus has just ended a conversation with one of the most respectable men in the Jewish community—a man named Nicodemus—and now he begins a conversation with one of the most disrespected characters in the New Testament, an unnamed, adulterous, Samaritan woman. Surprisingly, she will do what her religious counterpart wouldn’t: accept Christ. 

In order to understand the gravity of this conversation, a little needs to be said about Samaritans.  

Over 700 years before Jesus’ birth, the Assyrians attacked the northern tribes of Israel. They captured and took a great majority of the Jews into captivity.

The people who remained in the country inter-married with the incoming Gentiles. To orthodox Jews, that was an unforgivable crime. They called these Samaritans “half-breeds.”

Later, when Ezra and Nehemiah came to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple and the city, the Samaritans offered their help. They were refused. 

Years later, in bitter anger, the Samaritans built their own temple on Mount Gerezim, which fueled Jewish resentment even more.

According to the Mishnah, a compilation of the traditions of the elders and the Pharisees, the Samaritans were deemed “unclean from their cradle.” There were even some Pharisees who prayed that no Samaritan would be raised in the resurrection. 

So by the time of Christ, this bitter feud had reached a boiling point. 

That’s why John chapter 4 is so amazing. Jesus doesn’t merely grant this woman an audience with Him; He seeks her out, to the embarrassment of his own disciples. He pierces through longstanding cultural barriers to expose the unsatisfied need in this woman’s heart. 

He says to her in verses 13-14: 

Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.

Are you looking past the facades of people around you and seeing their need for Christ at the root of them? Or, are you too put off by their bad habits, political preferences, cultural differences, and immoral lifestyles to say anything?

 Yes, Jesus was God, and yes, His is an example we can only follow by His strength; but don’t miss the fact that He was the only one who gave that Samaritan woman grace. If He, a Jew of all Jews, could go out of His way to offer salvation to an adulterous, disobedient Samaritan, no one else has an excuse for staying put.

So who in your life today have you been keeping at an arm’s length? Who is the “Samaritan” in your workplace, church, social club, or family?

See that person the way Christ does. Dip your bucket into the eternal wellspring of live-saving truth, and offer that person a drink before it’s too late.