John 4: 27 – 42 Many Samaritans believe
Yesterday, I read about Jesus’ conversation with a Samaritan woman. He led her from hostility and scorn to a state where she could hear and perhaps accept Jesus’ claim to be the Messiah, the Son of God. Today’s study continues that account.
Just then his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman. But no one asked, ‘What do you want?’ or ‘Why are you talking with her?’
If the disciples didn’t ask Jesus about this episode, how do we know about it? Presumably the Samaritans told the disciples.
Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, ‘Come, see a man who told me everything I’ve ever done. Could this be the Messiah?’ They came out of the town and made their way towards him.
The woman left her water jar. The water jar was an important household item; picking it up would have been automatic, something done several times a day almost all her life. That she left it behind says that her mind must have been full of what Jesus had said. Her excitement galvanised the townsfolk, who came out to see Jesus.
Meanwhile his disciples urged him, ‘Rabbi, eat something.’
But he said to them, ‘I have food to eat that you know nothing about.’
Then his disciples said to each other, ‘Could someone have brought him food?’
‘My food,’ said Jesus, ‘is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. Don’t you have a saying, “It’s still four months until harvest”? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. Even now the one who reaps draws a wage and harvests a crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. Thus the saying “One sows and another reaps” is true. I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labour.’
This passage seems enigmatic. It doesn’t seem to relate to the story about the Samaritan woman. Perhaps St John has included it because it speaks metaphorically about the harvest. Perhaps he is telling us in this way that Jesus’ teaching of the Samaritans is part of the reaping to eternal life.
Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, ‘He told me everything I’ve ever done.’ So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. And because of his words many more became believers.
They said to the woman, ‘We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Saviour of the world.’
Jesus’ words that the fields are ripe for harvest are proved true. Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony; and because of his words many more became believers. Jesus recognised the right moment to give testimony.
We are not told specifically what Jesus taught the Samaritans during his two day visit, neither are we told of any signs. I would guess – and it is only a guess – that his teaching was that ‘a time is coming and has now come when the true worshippers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshippers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshippers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.’ By teaching this, Jesus would be healing the separation between Jews and Samaritans. He would have showed, by his actions as well as his words, that the doctrinal differences about temple worship were no longer important, because God is to be worshipped in the Spirit and in truth.
Heavenly Father, please let the truth spoken by Jesus fill our hearts, and heal the differences between communities all over the world. Please help us to contribute to this healing as best we can.
In Jesus’ name,