One of my absolute favorite Bible events takes place in the fourth chapter of the book of John. It is a favorite because the entire narrative between Yeshua (Jesus) and the Samaritan woman is so convoluted that it is made up of one miracle after another, yet it all takes place within one conversation.
Like most of you, when I think about the miracles performed by Yeshua, my mind goes to the lame walking, the blind seeing, the deaf hearing and the dead being raised. Yet, there are so many miraculous events that are equally powerful that we miss simply because the miracle takes place within words and hearts instead of outward physical experiences. One such series of miracles takes place in John 4.
We begin to read:
"So He left Judea and went back again to the Galilee. But He needed to pass through Samaria. So He comes to a Samaritan town called Shechem, near the plot of land that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. ... A Samaritan woman comes to draw water. 'Give me a drink'" Yeshua tells her. (John 4:3-7, TLV).
Before we begin looking at the actual text, let's first establish that a miracle is a supernatural event, an event which takes place beyond the normal established expectations. Said another way, the supernatural is something that takes place which is beyond the natural.
Now, let's look at the text. Yeshua is heading back to the Galilee from Judea. The normal route Jews took at that time was along the Jordan River to avoid travelling through Samaria. The Samaritans and the Jews were enemies living within the same country. The Samaritans were descendants of Jews who were not dispersed from the kingdom of Israel by the Assyrians and foreigners who were brought into Israel during the dispersion.
The Samaritans formed their own religion, blending Judaism and paganism. The Jews and Samaritans were two people groups who both based their religious faiths upon the same book. But having one book, they had two completely different understandings of that book, and they both believed they were right. The Jews worshipped in Jerusalem, and the Samaritans worshipped on Mount Gerizim. Because of their history and belief differences, they grew to hate one another.
The result was that Jews avoided Samaria at all costs. Yet, contrary to the norms of the day, Yeshua chose to go through Samaria. If Yeshua had followed the natural expectations of that day, we would not be reading this event in John 4. (I don't have time in this blog to go into the symbolism of Joseph and Yeshua that exists within this narrative; watch for it in a future blog.)
"Now Jacob's well was there. So Yeshua, exhausted from the journey, was sitting by the well. It was midday" (John 4:6).
The second unusual happening in the text is that Yeshua is at the well in the middle of the day. Most people didn't go to the well in the middle of the day. Normally, people went to the well in the morning before it got hot and in the afternoon once it got cool again. Only outcasts would be at the well at this time of day.
A Samaritan woman comes to draw water. "Give me a drink." Yeshua tells her. (John 4:7)
The third unusual event that takes place is that Yeshua asks the Samaritan woman for water. We know this is unusual because the biblical text actually tells us so.
Then the Samaritan woman asks Him, "How is it that You, a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink? (For Jewish people don't deal with Samaritans)" (John 4:9).
The woman is actually shocked by Yeshua even speaking to her. You will notice that she was not at all shocked that a man spoke to her when she was clearly not a woman of perfect reputation (the reason she was at the well in the middle of the day). She was shocked only because of their religious differences.
Now, as we read through the rest of John 4, we see the conversation that takes place between Yeshua and the woman as Yeshua reveals that He is Messiah and G-D. The end result is that this Samaritan woman returned to her town told everyone about Yeshua, and that resulted in many from her town coming to faith in Yeshua as Messiah.
"Many of the Samaritans from that town put their trust in Him because of the word of the woman testifying, 'He told me everything I ever did!'" (John 4:39),
"They kept telling the woman, 'It's no longer because of your words that we believe. We've heard for ourselves! Now we know that this really is the Savior of the world!" (John 4:42).
As we read through John 4, we see miracle after miracle taking place, and each of them took place so that the miracle that followed it would take place. I wonder how many more miracles would take place and how many more people would come to faith in Yeshua if we followed His example and stepped out of the natural into the supernatural, if we looked for opportunities to speak to those who are not like us, to venture off the beaten path and enter our Samarias, to speak to those who others choose not to speak to, to reach out to those whose reputations might not be perfect and pure and to speak to those who read the same book we do but see it in different ways.
I love that Yeshua didn't start His conversation with the woman by telling her that she was wrong and had nothing to offer. Instead, He let her know He was willing to drink water that she provided if she could provide it.
You will notice the woman does not ever provide water to Yeshua. He instead offers her water that only He could provide. John 4 is filled with supernatural events, most of which we don't see, simply because we don't understand just how supernatural a conversation can be.
Eric Tokajer is author of With Me in Paradise, Transient Singularity, OY! How Did I Get Here?: Thirty-One Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me Before Entering Ministry, #ManWisdom: With Eric Tokajer, Jesus Is to Christianity as Pasta Is to Italians, and Galatians in Context.
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