John 4:39 Many Samaritans from that city believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me all that I ever did.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them; and he stayed there two days. 41 And many more believed because of his word. 42 They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of your words that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.” RSV
What is the general theme of the passage?
I suppose because I’m studying both John and Exodus at the same time, this familiar story seems like another story about an exodus to me – the road out of a wilderness on the journey home. Jesus has chosen this direct route that connected the wilderness with the tainted land of Samaria on his way home to Galilee. Somehow that seems important. Jesus’s own baptism and the place of God’s proclamation of His Sonship took place in that Judean wilderness. That is also the place Satan hoped, and failed, to disgrace both Jesus and God with desperate temptations about food, faith and power. Jesus survived that wilderness and now He’s become the saving link for Samaria, the “in-between” place, filled with people who’ve lost their right to even claim the title “Jew” and He can offer them a greater Home.
What does it say about God (or Jesus or the Spirit?)
Jesus was able to combine their remembered facts with experience and truth in a way that reached into the history of their heart to turn their facts into faith that He was their way out of that “in-between” place.
What does it say about people?
The practical truth about Jesus is that He is God and capable of saving people caught “in between” their wilderness and their true Home. The woman at the well knows old “facts” but is less interested in instructions about eternity than she is in not having to haul water every day. She acknowledges “our father Jacob, who gave us the well” and “our fathers worshiped on this mountain.” She obviously has knowledge that affects her mind without her having a conscious awareness her facts are the “kindling” of faith. One new fact has ignited something of faith for her, “He told me all that I ever did.”
Is there truth here for me? I thought about my own moment of recognizing Jesus, and all the “facts” I’d had for a long time before that day came. Doubt was not my wilderness, I believed those facts! But someone else’s facts are only the “in-between” part of faith. It’s when Jesus enters the “in-between” and turns facts into kindling that ignites faith that you recognize you’ve survived the wilderness and have a Home to aim for.