Tearing down walls
By Ysrael De la Cruz
In ancient times people build walls as means of protection; to prevent danger; to keep outsiders out. Walls or fences separate your property from your neighbor’s. They served as boundaries. It is good to have healthy boundaries. However, in our society people build walls of separation intentionally or unconsciously based on social, economic and race; gender; we separate ourselves based on these things. These walls are not healthy.
This was happening during the time of Jesus. Jesus was radical for the culture of his day; he showed people how to tear down those walls.
John tells us the story in which we see Jesus tearing town walls that separated people from each other.
John 4:4 he had to pass from Samaria (this is not a geographical statement); This tells us about Jesus’ intention in going through Samaria. Jews avoided traveling through Samaria because of the hostility that existed between them and Samaritans. So here we see Jesus already acting counterculturally or against the normality of his days.
Jesus tore down walls of prejudice (v.5-10)
-He went to Samaria (he went to a place where Jewish rabis would avoid)
-He talked to a woman. He did not discriminate against her because she was a woman. He tore down gender walls.
The woman was surprised that Jesus would talk to her.
Jews and Samaritans did not get along. There was no dealings among themselves. (v.9)
Jesus initiated a conversation with this woman from Samaria ( “Would you give me a drink?”)
-How is it that you, a Jew asked me for a drink a woman from Samaria?
If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who is asking you for a drink; you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water. (v.10)
The conversation was about water, living water which peaked the woman’s interest.v.11-14
-Living water, way better than well water.
-It would quench your spiritual thirst.
Where do you get that living water? (v.11)
Are you greater than our father Jacob who gave us this well?v.12
13Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14but 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.”
Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty again or have to come here to draw water (v.15)
-Go call your husband and come back. (v.16)
-The woman: “I don’t have a husband.”
The conversation turned more personal now. Jesus told her something no Jew would have known about her.
“You are correct in saying you have no husband, for you have had five husbands and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.”
(v.19-20) Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet.
Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.”
Jesus tore down religious walls that separated people.
The Jews worshiped in Jerusalem, but the Samaritans worshipped in the mountain (mount Gerizim). They were divided regarding the correct place to worship. Who is right?
The hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship. The hour is coming when the place for worship will become irrelevant. (v.21)
Jesus could have said, it is ok, as long as you worship God. It doesn’t matter what you choose to worship or where you worship. But he did not say that.
Jesus confronted the woman with the truth of worship.
-You worship what you do not know, we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. (v.22)
Jesus informed her that she worshiped what she did not know. She worshiped someone she did not have a relationship with. You worship as a form of religion in other words, you do not have a relationship with your object of worship. Jews worshiped what we know. The God we worship, we know, and he knows us. The God of the Jews entered into a covenant relationship with them. He made himself known to them. Jesus informed this woman that salvation is from the Jews. (this was God’s plan to save the world through the Jewish nation by which the Savior would come)
Jesus explained to the woman that worship is deeper than a location (v.23) and that God was looking for authentic worshipers and not religious fanatics.
(v.23-24)But the hour is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for the Father is seeking such as these to worship Him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”
Jesus revealed to her the truth about true worship and the kind of worship God desires and expects of his people.
She did not want to continue debating this sensitive subject of worship.
“I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.” (v.25)
“I who speak to you am he.” (v.26)
Jesus revealed his identity to this woman. The expected Messiah just gave her a lesson about God and worship.
The disciples came back and found Jesus talking with her and were amazed that he was talking to her, but no one asked him anything. (v.27-29)
The woman left her water jar (28) Interesting, that she left the very thing she came to that place to get. She left the water jar because she found the Living water Jesus had promised her. She found something better than water and she was ready to share it with everyone in her village. She went to her village and told people come see a man who told me all that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?
v.30 People went out of the town to meet Jesus just because of what the woman said. She became the first evangelist in her town. She became the means or path for people in her town to have an encounter with Jesus.
Salvation came to Samaria, but to get there Jesus had to break racial barriers, gender barriers and religious walls that were separating them back then. Salvation is for everyone one, every nation on earth. Christ’s followers today must tear down the walls to bring the good news of Jesus to others. We like Jesus must tear down the walls of prejudice, walls of gender and religious walls people have erected. Those walls that are keeping people from the liberating message of the gospel. Those walls must come down. Jesus tore walls by being willing to go where others would not go and being willing to have a conversation with someone most people would not talk to. What are you willing to do or prepared to do to tear down walls?