that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” The woman said to him,“Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.” Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.” (John 4:7-15 ESV)
There was no love lost between Jews and Samaritans in the first century A.D. Neither side wanted anything to do with the other and there was a large amount of tension and fighting between the two groups. When illustrating the truth of loving your neighbor (or enemy), Jesus could think of no better example than to choose a “good Samaritan” to prove His point that we can’t exclude anyone from the command to love our neighbors as ourselves (see Luke 10:25-37).
Here in John 4, the spotlight turned on the Jews sinful attitude … “for Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.” And yet Jesus “had to pass through Samaria.” Now if He would have observed the custom of a strict Jew, He would have gone out around Samaria to avoid the risk of becoming ceremonially unclean by those who were considered continually unclean. However, Jesus doesn’t do that. In fact, He even asks a Samaritan woman to draw water from the well with her own pot so He could have a drink of water. All of this was done so that Jesus could go from talking about water and wells to living water which reveals why it was necessary for Him to go through that area—He had a divine appointment with this woman and no social barrier would stand in His way.
What are the “unclean groups” for us in 2012 that we avoid like a Samaritan? Here’s a short list of what I’ve heard and seen: Muslims, people of color, people who do not speak English, HIV carriers, the homosexual community and poor White folks. The names we invent for these neighbors of ours reveal that we do not love them and we’ve made a command decision to withhold the good news from them by living apart from them. It’s about time we embrace the truth of John 4 and make necessary trips into the paths of the ones we have hated. Jesus, for the sake of the gospel, didn’t allow social stigmas to get in the way, neither should we.