Scripture: John 4:39-42
Many Samaritans from that city believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I have ever done.” So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them; and he stayed there two days. And many more believed because of his word. They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the Savior of the world.”
We’ve finally reached the end of this story about Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well. As we’ve journeyed through this early episode in Jesus’ ministry, his desire to bring about forgiveness and reconciliation is apparent. He’s revealed himself to the Samaritan woman as a gentle pastor, an all-knowing prophet, and the Messiah. Jesus has also had to educate his own disciples about who he is and what he has come to do when they express shock at the sight of seeing him speaking with a shamed woman. A lot has happened in the previous thirty-eight verses, but now they all reach their climax in these final few.
This whole story is really one of conversion. Just think about all the change that people have experienced. The Samaritan woman has gone from being an outcast in the community to a great witness for them about Jesus. The relationship between Jews and Gentiles has also experienced its own conversion of sorts. In the beginning the Samaritan woman questions Jesus as to why he’s even there. Now, the whole community is asking him to remain there with them. Those walls of division are crumbling. And finally, even the disciples have undergone a conversion. Their cultural inclination is at first to believe that the Samaritans aren’t worth saving. They want to get out of there as soon as possible. And now, through the efforts of Jesus and this woman at the well, they are seeing an entire community of people become believers.
Conversion is at the heart of this passage. And what’s so beautiful to me about the message of conversion, here, is this: Conversion isn’t a one time thing. Conversion can happen constantly if we remain open to the teachings of Christ. Jesus is ever trying to bring us closer to him. That happens when we experience these conversions – when we realize we’re not in line with Christ’s vision and we change course to be where he is. Conversion is more than a one-time commitment to be a follower of Jesus. It is a lifetime cycle where we grow closer to the likeness of God through sanctification.
And I wouldn’t be doing this story justice if I didn’t mention how these conversions tend to happen. We hear this, “Many Samaritans from that city believed in him because of the woman’s testimony.” Conversions happen through hearing the personal experiences of others. Few people come to know Christ through abstract theory and theology. Likewise, we can’t grow in empathy and understanding without hearing people tell us their experiences. We, as Christians, need to be ready to share. But more importantly, if we are to grow, we also need to learn how to hear. We all have room to grow in our likeness to Jesus.
God of truth, use the experiences of others to teach me more about you. Give me the courage to also share my story with others. Amen.
Thought for the Day:
Sharing takes bravery. Hearing takes patience. Both qualities are worth developing.