Friday, April 20, 2012

An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday April 22, 2012

(JESUS invites everyone to have eternal life)
(John 4:1-42)

In the Greek, the word New Testament writers use for “longsuffering” is “makrothumia” (mak-roth-oo-mee-ah). It describes a spirit that never grows irritated, never despairs, and never regards anyone as being beyond salvation. In the Gospel according to Saint John, in chapter 4, verses 1-42, the author of GOD writes of JESUS’ journey alone, into Samaria, a land that was rarely, if ever, traveled through by the Jews in those days.
HE and HIS Disciples had left Judea together after HIS Disciples had done some baptizing there, and were heading back to Galilee. On the way, JESUS sent HIS Disciples to get food, and HE HIMSELF, continued on into the Samaritan village of Sychar, in the vicinity of the land that Jacob had willed to his son Joseph (Gen. 48:21-22). It was also where Jacob’s well is located.
In verse 4 of this passage, the Apostle John tells us that JESUS “had to” go through Samaria, even though we know that there was an alternate, more frequently traveled route, that the Jews would take, just east of the Jordan River through neighboring Perea.
The Jews hated the Samaritans, and the Samaritans did not like the Jews. They had harbored ill-feelings towards each other since the days when the Assyrians, under the rule of King Shalamaneser, defeated Israel and King Hoshea, Israel’s last GODly king. The Assyrians took over the capital city of Samaria, and exiled the Israelites to Assyria (2 Kings 17).

The Assyrians then replaced the Israelites with groups of people from Babylon, Cuthah, Avva, Hamath, and Sepharvaim, and resettled them in Samaria and various other towns throughout Israel. The descendants of the Jews, who married and mixed with those Assyrian groups, became the hated Samaritans of JESUS’ day.

While these Samaritans were worshipers of the same GOD as the Israelites, they worshiped at Mount Gerizim, where Moses, Joshua, and the Jews worshiped (Deut. 27:12 & Josh. 8:33) prior to coming to the “promised land”. But since the time of King David, the “pure breed” Jew’s had been worshiping in Jerusalem. The Samaritans were hated simply because they were “half breed” Jews, and thus, no better than Gentiles in the minds of the pure-breed Jews.
However, we see in verse 12 that the woman JESUS encountered at “Jacob’s well”, still considers Jacob as her forefather, and claims her Jewish heritage. What we see here in John chapter 4, is an attempt by JESUS, to show HIS Disciples, and the world, including future generations, that, the new Gospel that HE preached would be embraced by both Jews and Gentiles alike. HE sought to show that prayer is made for all men, regardless of race, and that, for the coming “Christian Way”, there would be no such thing as an enemy, except satan, in all the world. No one would be left outside of the love of CHRIST, and no one has ever been outside of the purpose of GOD. GOD wishes all mankind to be saved.
We also see in this passage, JESUS introducing us to “The Five Laws of Persuasion”, “Attention” (Vs. 7-9), “Interest” (Vs. 10-12), “Desire” (Vs. 13-15), “Conviction” (Vs. 16-18), and “Commitment” (Vs. 28-29). The Samaritan woman that JESUS met at the well that day, like many of us, thirsted and longed for that thing in her life, that she felt was lacking. She had drank from the wells of many men, five husbands, to be exact, and was currently “shacking up” with yet another man when she finally had this surprising and unexpected, life-changing encounter with JESUS.
The Disciples returned just as the woman was leaving, and they were puzzled as to why JESUS was even talking to a woman alone, and they were, perhaps, even more disturbed that the woman was a Samaritan. JESUS had broken many life-changing barriers by venturing into Samaritan territory that day, and no doubt his disciple’s feet were touching Samaritan soil for the very first time. However, if they were to train to become fishers of men, they would have to first understand that JESUS’ offer of salvation would extend to everyone, both to the Jews, and, to the much hated Gentiles and Samaritans. 

The woman went eagerly back to Samaria to witness of her life-changing event at Jacob’s well. And though she, herself still had many questions, nevertheless, her life had now been jump-started in a new direction. She had come to the well that day, no doubt, filled with shame for living a life that had, to that point, ostracized her from the other women of her community. However, she left the well having a new lease on life that one can only receive by coming to the end of one’s self, and coming face to face with CHRIST JESUS.
It seems as if GOD has placed this longing and thirst, inside of each of us, innately from birth, and the only way to satisfy that longing or thirst, is by seeking, and ultimately finding HIM. It is for the purpose of GOD that man was ever created in first place. And just as no man has ever created anything that was not for his own purpose or benefit, so it is with GOD. Man was created to serve GOD, and until we grasp and understand that, we’ll just continue to meander around, searching for physical answers, to problems, that have always been spiritual.

A Sunday school lesson by,

Larry D. Alexander

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