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    Chapter 10—The Woman of Samaria

    As Jesus pursued his way to Galilee, his course lay through Samaria. He embraced every opportunity to teach as he traveled on foot from place to place. The Saviour was weary, and he sat on Jacob's well to rest, while his disciples went in search of food with which to refresh themselves and their Master. As he sat there alone, a woman of Samaria drew near as if unconscious of his presence; but his eye was upon her, and after she had drawn the water he asked her to give him a drink.2SP 140.1

    The Samaritan woman was surprised at this request from a Jew, and answered, “How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.” Jesus answered, “If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink, thou wouldst have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.” He here referred to the divine grace which he alone could bestow, and which is as living water, purifying, refreshing, and invigorating the soul.2SP 140.2

    But the woman's understanding did not comprehend the meaning of Christ; she supposed that he was speaking of the well before them, and answered, “Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep; from whence then hast thou that living water? Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself?” She saw before her only a weary, thirsty traveler, wayworn and dusty; and her mind instinctively compared this humble stranger with the great and worthy Jacob.2SP 140.3

    Jesus did not immediately satisfy the woman in regard to himself, but with solemn earnestness said, “Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again; but whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.”2SP 141.1

    The woman looked upon him with wondering attention; he had succeeded in arousing her interest and inspiring respect for himself. She now perceived that it was not the water of Jacob's well to which Jesus alluded, for of this she used continually, drinking, and thirsting again. With remarkable faith she asked him to give her the water of which he spoke, that she might not thirst nor come to draw from the well.2SP 141.2

    Jesus did not intend to convey the idea that simply one draught of the water of life would satisfy the receiver, but that whoever is united with Christ, has within his soul a living fountain from which to draw strength and grace sufficient for all emergencies. Words and deeds of righteousness flow from it and refresh the hearts of others, as well as the soul from which it springs. Jesus Christ, the never-failing source of this fountain, cheers the life and brightens the path of all who come to him for aid. Love to God, the satisfying hope of Heaven, springs up in good works unto eternal life.2SP 141.3

    Jesus now abruptly changed the subject of conversation, and bade her call her husband. The woman answered frankly that she had no husband. Jesus had now approached the desired point where he could convince her that he had the power to read her life history, although previously unacquainted with her. He addressed her thus: “Thou hast well said, I have no husband; for thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband; in that saidst thou truly.”2SP 142.1

    Jesus had a double object in view; he wished to arouse her conscience as to the sin of her manner of life, as well as to prove to her that a sight wiser than human eyes had read the secrets of her life. But the woman, although not fully realizing the guilt of her manner of living, was greatly astonished that this stranger should possess such knowledge. With profound reverence she said, “Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet.” Her personal feelings were now lost in anxiety concerning religious matters. She proceeded, “Our fathers worshiped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.”2SP 142.2

    Just in sight was Mount Gerizim, its temple demolished, and only the altar remaining. The place of worship had been a subject of contention between the Jews and Samaritans. The latter people had once belonged to Israel, but had become divided from them because of their transgressions in neglecting to obey the statutes of God. The Lord suffered them to be overcome by an idolatrous nation, whose religion had gradually contaminated their own. Still preserving their reverence for the true God, they represented him by images of wood and stone, before which they bowed in worship.2SP 142.3

    When the temple was rebuilt at Jerusalem, the Samaritans wished to join the Jews in its erection. This privilege was refused them, and, in consequence, a bitter animosity sprang up between the two people, which resulted in the Samaritans building a rival temple on Mount Gerizim, where they worshiped according to the ceremonies that God gave unto Moses, but mingled with their worship the taint of idolatry. But disasters attended the Samaritans, their temple was destroyed by the enemy, and they seemed to be under a curse.2SP 143.1

    They were forced to believe that God was punishing them for their apostasy. They determined to reform, and solicited teachers from the Jews to instruct them in the true religion. Through this teaching, their views of God and his requirements became clearer, and their religious service resembled more nearly that of the Jews. But to a certain degree they still clung to their idolatry, and there was a lack of harmony between them and the Jews. The Samaritans would not respect the temple of worship at Jerusalem, and refused to admit that it was the true place of worship.2SP 143.2

    Jesus answered the woman by saying that the time was at hand when they should neither worship the Father in that mountain nor in Jerusalem. Said he, “Ye worship ye know not what; we know what we worship; for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth; for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit; and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.”2SP 143.3

    This was a plain statement that the Jews were more nearly correct in the principles of their religion than any other nation. Jesus also alluded to the faith of the Samaritans being amalgamated with the worship of graven images. True, they held that these idols were only to remind them of the living God, the Ruler of the universe; but, nevertheless, the people were led to reverence these inanimate figures.2SP 144.1

    Jesus, who was the foundation of the old dispensation, identified himself with the Jews, sanctioning their views of God and his government. He opened great and important truths before this woman. He declared to her that the time had arrived when the true worshipers need not seek a holy mountain nor sacred temple, but were to worship the Father in spirit and in truth. Religion was not to be confined to external forms and ceremonies, but was to be throned in the heart, purifying the life and actuating to good works.2SP 144.2

    The words of truth that fell from the lips of the divine Teacher stirred the heart of his listener. Never had she heard such sentiments, either from the priests of her own people or the Jews. The impressive teachings of this stranger carried her mind back to the prophecies concerning the promised Christ; for the Samaritans as well as the Jews looked for his coming. “I know that Messias cometh,” said she; “when he is come, he will tell us all things.” Jesus answered, “I that speak unto thee am he.”2SP 144.3

    Blessed woman of Samaria! She had felt during the conference as if in the presence of divinity; now she gladly acknowledged her Lord. She required of him no miracle, as did the Jews, to prove his divine character. She accepted his assertion, feeling perfect confidence in his words, and not questioning the holy influence that emanated from him.2SP 145.1

    The disciples, returning from their errand, were surprised to find their Master conversing with a Samaritan woman; yet they did not inquire her errand, nor ask Jesus why he talked with her. The woman left her water-pot, forgetting her errand to the well, and went her way into the city, saying to all whom she met, and the men of the city, “Come, see a man who told me all things that ever I did. Is not this the Christ?”2SP 145.2

    This woman, though so sinful, was still in a more favorable condition to become an heir of Christ's kingdom than those of the Jews who made exalted professions of piety, yet trusted their salvation to the observance of outward forms and ceremonies. They felt that they needed no Saviour and no teacher. But this poor woman hungered and thirsted after righteousness. She was eager for instruction, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and ready to accept the Saviour when he was revealed. Jesus, who explained not his character to the proud and skeptical Pharisees and rulers, declared himself to this humble person who was ready to believe on him.2SP 145.3

    As yet he had not taken the refreshing draught that he desired, nor tasted the food that his disciples had brought him. The salvation of perishing souls so absorbed his attention that his physical wants were forgotten. But his followers anxiously entreated him to eat. Still contemplating the great object of his mission, he answered them, “I have meat to eat that ye know not of.” His disciples were surprised, and began to wonder among themselves who could have brought him food in their absence. But Jesus explained, “My meat is to do the will of Him that sent me, and to finish his work.”2SP 145.4

    It was not temporal food alone that sustained him in his arduous life; but the accomplishment of the work which he left the royal courts of Heaven to perform, strengthened him for his labors, and lifted him above the necessities of humanity. To minister to a soul hungering and thirsting for the truth was more satisfying to the Son of Man than eating or drinking. He pitied sinners; his heart went out in sympathy for the poor Samaritans, who felt their ignorance and wretchedness, and were eagerly looking for the advent of Messiah, who would enlighten them and teach them the true religion.2SP 146.1

    The Jews felt secure in their self-righteousness, they desired no enlightenment; but they looked for a Saviour who would release them from the bondage of the Roman yoke, and exalt them above their oppressors. They could not receive one who reproved their sins and condemned their selfish, hypocritical lives. They looked for a Messiah who would reign with worldly power and glory, confound and defeat the Romans, and exalt the Jews to a nation of princes.2SP 146.2

    Jesus saw a field of labor among the Samaritans. Before him lay the fields of grain, their tender green lit by the golden sunlight. Viewing the beautiful scene, he employed it as a symbol, “Say not ye there are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? Behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.” He here referred to the gospel field, to the work of Christianity among the poor, despised Samaritans. His hand reached out to gather them into the garner; they were ready for the harvest.2SP 146.3

    The Saviour was above all prejudice of nation or people; he was willing to extend the blessings and privileges of the Jews to all who would accept the light which he came to the world to bring. It caused him great joy to behold even one soul reaching out to him from the night of spiritual blindness. That which Jesus had withheld from the Jews and enjoined upon his disciples to keep secret, was distinctly opened before the inquiring woman of Samaria; for He who knew all things perceived that she would make a right use of her knowledge and be the means of leading others to the true faith.2SP 147.1

    It was not merely the fact that Jesus told her concerning the secrets of her life which inspired the confidence of this woman in him, but it was also his look and his solemn words that reached her soul and convinced her that he was a superior being. At the same time she felt that he was her friend, pitying and loving her. This is the character of the world's Redeemer; while he condemned her life of sin, he directed her to his divine grace as the sure and perfect remedy. The pitying love of the Saviour is not confined to sect or party.2SP 147.2

    As the woman of Samaria hastened back to her friends, publishing as she went the wonderful news, many left the highway and the town to go and ascertain if she indeed spoke the truth. Numbers of the citizens left their employments and hastened to Jacob's well to see and hear this remarkable man. They surrounded Jesus and listened attentively to his instruction. They plied him with questions, and eagerly received his explanation of matters that had perplexed their understandings. They were like a people in great darkness tracing up a sudden ray that had pierced their gloom and which they were eager to follow to its source, that they might bask in the light and warmth of day.2SP 147.3

    The Samaritans were attracted and interested by the teachings of Jesus. But they were not satisfied with this short conference; they were anxious to hear more and to have their fellow-citizens also listen to this wonderful teacher. They begged him to tarry with them and instruct them. For two days he remained in Samaria teaching the people. Many believed on him and accepted his words. Jesus was a Jew, yet he mingled freely with these Samaritans, setting at naught the custom and bigotry of his nation. He had already commenced to break down the partition wall between Jew and Gentile, and preach salvation to the world.2SP 148.1

    These Samaritan listeners were in darkness and superstition; but they were not contented with their condition, and the words of Jesus relieved them of many doubts and uncertainties that had harassed their minds. Many who had come from curiosity to see and hear this remarkable person were convicted of the truth of his teachings, and acknowledged him as their Saviour. Eagerly they listened to the words he spoke in reference to the kingdom of God. In their new joy they said unto the woman, “Now we believe, not because of thy saying; for we have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world.”2SP 148.2

    Christ, at the very beginning of his ministry, openly rebuked the superficial morality and ostentatious piety of the Jews. He did not conform his life and his work to their customs and regulations. He was not influenced by their unreasonable prejudices against the Gentiles. He, on the contrary, sternly rebuked their conceit and selfish seclusion. The Pharisees rejected Christ. They ignored his miracles and the truthful simplicity of his character. They refused to recognize his pure and elevated spirituality and all evidences of his divinity. They scornfully demanded of him a sign that they might know that he was indeed the Son of God.2SP 149.1

    But the Samaritans asked no sign, and Jesus performed no miracles among them; yet they received his teachings, were convicted of their great need of a Saviour, and accepted him as their Redeemer. They were therefore in a much more favorable position before God than the Jewish nation, with its pride and vanity, blind bigotry, narrow prejudice, and bitter hatred of every other people on the earth. Jesus, in face of all these prejudices, accepted the hospitality of this despised people, slept under their roofs, ate with them at their tables—partaking of the food prepared and served by their hands—taught in their streets, and treated them with the greatest kindness and courtesy.2SP 149.2

    In the temple at Jerusalem there was a partition wall separating the outer court from the inner one. Gentiles were permitted to enter the outer court, but it was only lawful for the Jews to penetrate to the inner inclosure. Had a Samaritan passed this sacred boundary, the temple would have been desecrated, and his life would have paid the penalty of its pollution. But Jesus, who was virtually the foundation and originator of the temple—the services and ceremonies of which were but a type of his great sacrifice, pointing to him as the Son of God—encircled the Gentiles with his human arm of sympathy and association, while, with his divine arm of grace and power, he brought to them the salvation which the Jews refused to accept.2SP 149.3

    Jesus had spent several months in Judea, giving the rulers of Israel a fair opportunity of proving his character as the Saviour of the world. He had performed many mighty works in their midst; but he was still treated by them with suspicion and jealousy. In passing through Samaria on his way to Galilee, his reception among the Samaritans, and the eagerness with which they listened to his teachings, were in marked contrast with the incredulity of the Jews, who had misinterpreted the prophecies of Daniel, Zechariah, and Ezekiel, confusing the first advent of Christ with his second majestic and glorious appearing.2SP 150.1

    Their blindness was in consequence of their lofty pride and arrogance, looking only for worldly station and emolument. They urged their interpretation of the prophecies upon the Samaritans, who believed that Messiah was to come not only as a Redeemer of the Jews, but of the world. This caused great bitterness toward them from the Jews, who contended that Christ would come to exalt Israel and to bring into subjection all other nations. This perversion of the prophecies led the Samaritans to discard all the sacred writings but those of Moses. But their minds were open to enlightenment, and they received the Saviour's instruction joyfully and accepted him as the promised Messiah.2SP 150.2

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