Jesus and the Samaritan Woman: God is No Respecter of Persons
By Rev Tan Eng Boo
Who are the Samaritans?
They exist today and not only during biblical times. A brief historical background will help us understand more about these people.
“The Samaritans were a group of people who lived in Samaria – an area north of Jerusalem. They were half-Jews and half-Gentiles. When Assyria captured the northern kingdom of Israel in 721 B.C., some were taken in captivity while others left behind. The ones left behind intermarried with the Assyrians. Thus, these people were neither fully Hebrews nor fully Gentiles. The Samaritans had their own unique copy of the first five books of Scripture as well as their own unique system of worship. At the time of Jesus, the Jews and the Samaritans did not deal with one another. Jesus, however, ministered to the people of Samaria preaching the good news to them.” (Taken from Don Stewart: Who Were the Samaritans?)
Standing on Mount Gerizim brings back memories of the biblical account of Jesus and the Samaritan woman (Jn. 4). I have just this one theme in mind when writing this article. It is that “God is no respecter of persons.” The New King James Version has used the heading for John 4 as "God shows no partiality". Indeed, God will provide every person with the opportunity to receive the blessings of His salvation plan.
In John 4, we read of Jesus leaving Judea and going up north to Galilee. He had to pass through Samaria. He did not make a detour and avoid Samaria as many Jews would have done. You see, the Jews of Jesus’ day did not like the Samaritans. They would avoid this place and the people. But not Jesus. He came into a Samaritan town called Sychar. And there Jesus met a woman of Samaria by Jacob's well and He asked her for a drink. The woman was shocked. She said: “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) (Jn. 4:9).
Let us learn that God is no respecter of persons!
1. We must change our attitude towards certain people.
In order for you to reach out to any person for Christ, you must have Jesus’ attitude. If you are a biased person, you will bypass the “Samaritans” of today, and there are many of such people in the world who are shunned by Christians, such as the poor, drug addicts, criminals, adulterous persons, people who are HIV positive, etc. We are also racists at times. This is an ungodly attitude. Are you such a person? If you are, ask God to help you to follow the Lord’s example. And when you ask God to help you, be prepared for God to open the door for you to meet such persons.
A caller once asked me if our church would welcome an HIV person to worship. My answer was a straightforward YES!
Jesus was also very good at initiating a conversation with this unnamed Samaritan woman. “A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.”” (Jn. 4:7). That conversation was an “ice-breaker.” That started her talking to Jesus which led her to mention the Messiah: “The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.” Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.”” (Jn. 4:25, 26). The woman was so impressed with the conversation with Jesus that she went back to Sychar and told the people of this meeting and got them to come and meet with Jesus (Jn. 4:28-30) and the result was a harvest of souls in Samaria.
“And many more believed because of his word. They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Saviour of the world.”” (Jn. 4:41, 42)
2. We should mix with those of different faiths and lifestyles too.
Jesus spoke to an immoral person. This Samaritan woman was a social outcast (Jn. 4:16-18). He mixed with sinners (Mk. 2:15). I am not advocating a compromised lifestyle with them. The longer you are a Christian, the lesser non-Christian friends you will have. You may have them as your colleagues at your work place, school or army camp. That is the opportunity for you to befriend them. Show your love to them as Jesus did towards the Samaritans. It only takes one convert (the Samaritan woman) to influence the town of Sychar for Christ. “Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman's testimony, “He told me all that I ever did.”” (Jn. 4:39). The story of the woman at the well is a rich example of love, redemption, and acceptance. May we have the Lord’s attitude in our encounter with the “Samaritans” of our day.
When Cornelius invited the apostle Peter to his home in Caesarea, the Bible records that,
“Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him” (Acts 10:34, 35 KJV)
“Lord, help me to be impartial in my daily encounter with people so that Jesus can be seen in and through my life”