Monday, April 16, 2012

“Woman of Samaria” Adult Sunday School Lesson

International Sunday School Lesson
For Sunday April 22, 2012

Purpose: To affirm the power of Jesus to transcend boundaries and restore life

Scripture Text: John 4:7-15, 23-26, 28-30 (NRSV)

John 4:7-15
(7) A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, "Give me a drink." (8) (His disciples had gone to the city to buy food.) (9) The Samaritan woman said to him, "How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?" (Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans.) (10) Jesus answered her, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, "Give me a drink,' you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water." (11)The woman said to him, "Sir, you have no bucket, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? (12) Are you greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us the well, and with his sons and his flocks drank from it?" (13) Jesus said to her, "Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, (14) but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life." (15) The woman said to him, "Sir, give me this water, so that I may never be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water."

John 4: 23-26
(23) But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. (24) God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth."(25) The woman said to him, "I know that Messiah is coming" (who is called Christ). "When he comes, he will proclaim all things to us." (26) Jesus said to her, "I am he, the one who is speaking to you."

John 4: 28-30
(28) Then the woman left her water jar and went back to the city. She said to the people, (29) "Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done! He cannot be the Messiah, can he?" (30) They left the city and were on their way to him.

My Thoughts by Burgess Walter

This is a very familiar story recorded by John, but let us take a closer look at what is happening in this passage. It would be good if you read all of chapter 4, before you teach this lesson. In John's account this story comes after the cleansing of the Temple in Jerusalem. Jesus and his disciples are heading back to Galilee from Jerusalem and the normal route would take them into Samaria. Verses 5 and 6 tell us “ (5)So he came to a Samaritan city called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. (6)Jacob's well was there, and Jesus, tired out by his journey, was sitting by the well. It was about noon. 

As you read verses 8 and 9, there appears to be some conflicting statements made, the parenthetical statements found in verses 9 (Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans.) and in verse 8 which says “ 8 (His disciples had gone to the city to buy food.) To me these two statements are in conflict with each other.

It might be that the parenthetical statements were added by translators in an effort to explain the text, and may in a sense be an over reach in translation. Josephus does not record such a harsh stance, in fact Jews and Samaritans could share many things, a Jew could circumcise a Samaritan, and food prepared by a Samaritan was not considered unclean. So the disciples going to town to buy provisions would be a common thing to do, even in Samaria. The primary difference was the place of worship, for the Jews it was the Temple in Jerusalem, for the Samaritans it was Temple on Gerizim. The other major difference would have been that the Samaritans only accepted the Pentateuch, (the first five books of Moses) while the Jews accepted the Pentateuch as well as the prophets, and some of the writings recorded in our Old Testament. Historically the Samaritans came about when the Kingdom was divided after the death of Solomon into the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah and the northern kingdom was carried into captivity by the Assyrians and the remnant that returned.( in the eighth century B.C.) Settled in the area called Samaria, the mixed marriages, according to the Jews in Judah, made them somewhat less than them.

Amazingly this was just the type of thing that Jesus had been sent to reconcile, birthrights no longer mattered, places of worship no longer mattered, restrictive beliefs no longer mattered, whether you were man or woman no longer mattered. Just as Jesus had turned the Jewish Temple upside down, and destroyed all of those rules for effective worship, now he was bringing down another barrier, the barrier between races and genders.
In verse 23 Jesus explains when His hour comes, which was here, worship will change. We worship in spirit and truth. Jesus confesses to this woman that He is the Messiah, now if she believes that, she too can share in eternal life (living water).

The response of the woman is what Jesus is looking for in each of us, go and tell your friends what you have found and bring them to Jesus, so they too can have a taste of the Living Water.

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