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Grasping God's Gift

The Lord Jesus Christ did no miracles during His visit to Samaria. Yet there are many wonders in His meeting with the woman of Sychar (John 4:1-43). It was a wonder that a Jew should ask a favour of a Samaritan, that He should have a conversation with her in a public place, and, perhaps also, that she should call Him 'Lord'. Greater wonders include the facts that God was then manifest in flesh, that He should be weary from His walking, and that He should call Himself a worshipper - a Jewish worshipper at that.

But there is a wonder told before the tale starts. In neighbouring Israel, John the Baptist had prepared the people for the imminent coming of their Messiah. So successful was John that he drew the people in droves from their homes and houses to the desert where many accepted his word. He smoothed the way for the immediate success of the Lord's work which soon spread to Jews who had not been baptised by John. Yet, just at the time when the Lord's work was evidently outstripping that of John, He left it, deliberately passing through Samaria and its people whom John had ignored. Thus, unlike the Jews, the Samaritans had no inkling of the Lord or His mission and were not in any state of expectancy as He slipped without fanfare into their midst. He sat wearily at the well of His earthly ancestor that day. To any onlooker two complete strangers met there, but how quickly the Lord was into His stride in speaking to the woman of her spiritual need!

It may seem something of a wonder, too, that a person with her past should wish to speak about worship, especially since, for the most part, she talked completely at cross purposes to Him. Though no doubt footsore, the Lord led her step by step to see that He had something she needed, but had not got, and that He was prepared to give it to her freely. He was so convincing that she was willing to receive it, albeit without understanding fully what He meant by eternal life. Before she could know or grasp the nature of that 'gift of God' about which He spoke, she needed to know the Speaker. That revelation, wonderful to all who have 'seen' it, came to her when He confronted her with her sins. His knowledge of her ruined life, perhaps triggered by her shadowy awareness that her expected Messiah would declare ... all things, astonished her and convinced her of His authority. Her willingness to confess to her fellow men that all her murky past was known to the stranger suggests that she knew by then the forgiveness of her sins. Her joyous words, 'Come, see a man ''' resembles that of the Jewish disciple Philip (John 1:39) who had also recently come to know the Saviour and wished to share his joy with others. That aspect of the tale concludes with the wonder of the broadening effect of her testimony, to the people, then to 'many of the Samaritans' and finally to the many more who believed Him to be the Saviour of the world.

She had begun by thinking that she could give him water from the well, but abandoned her water pot, no doubt still empty, as a result of meeting Him. Instead, she and her fellow citizens had their spiritual thirst slaked eternally as do all who accept Christ as Saviour and so receive eternal life. But here is another wonder; the disciples, their errand successfully completed, had come out from the city and encouraged their Master to eat. As with the water from the well, He had a greater priority which could not be met by earthly food. His food was to do His Father's will. So, thirsty and no doubt hungry too, He sowed and reaped a harvest of Samaritan souls as only He could. The tale of the weary man, the satisfied woman, water that is not water, and food that is not food has more in it than meets the eye, and has much more to say about worship ...

Bible quotations from RV