Hunkered Down Devotion

John 4:39-42 (Voice)
39 Meanwhile, because one woman shared with her neighbors how Jesus exposed her past and present, the village of Sychar was transformed—many Samaritans heard and believed. 40 The Samaritans approached Jesus and repeatedly invited Him to stay with them, so He lingered there for two days on their account. 41 With the words that came from His mouth, there were many more believing Samaritans. 42 They began their faith journey because of the testimony of the woman beside the well; but when they heard for themselves, they were convinced the One they were hearing was and is God’s Anointed, the Liberating King, sent to rescue the entire world.

This passage from John occurs immediately after Jesus has his famous encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well.  The focus of that story is usually, rightly, on the wonderful conversation between Jesus and the woman and it’s boundary breaking message of love and acceptance for all of us.  

But what caught my attention today is what happens after her conversation with Jesus. Immediately following, the woman runs to tell the others in her village what she has heard and how it has affected her.  This is where we pick up the story.  Verse 39 tells us that because of this one woman and her willingness to share what Jesus had done for her, "many Samaritans heard and believed."

What happens in verse forty deserves some extra attention, because it may not sound like it, but something extraordinary is happening.  You may be familiar with how important hospitality was in ancient middle eastern culture, but this virtue though highly valued, was not universally applied.  

Hospitality was incredibly important, but it had its limits and those limits were usually ethnic or racial.  Extending hospitality was expected, even demanded in most occasions; but, when ethnic lines were crossed, it would be a shocking act, something that would rarely, if ever, be done voluntarily.  

The inverse was true as well, Jesus and his disciples staying there for two days would have involved staying in Samaritan homes, teaching and talking with Samaritans, and eating Samaritan food.  The idea would have been offensive to most Jews of Jesus day, and was likely the first time any of the disciples had experienced Samaritan hospitality.  

Other than a (mildly) interesting cultural exposition what does this matter to us?  Well, the question – and the part that actually matters to us – is how did we get here?  How did, in just a few lines of the story, and a few days in their lives did these people – the villagers, the disciples – come to a place where they so willingly went against the grain of cultural expectation?

The answer, of course, is Jesus.  Jesus and their interaction with Jesus changed them.  And, importantly, it didn’t just change what they thought or what they believed.  To be sure, Jesus and their interaction with them did change those things, but it didn’t stop there.  Because of Jesus, their lives were changed from the inside out and their actions changed right along with it. They were moved to welcome and embrace those they would have excluded because of the way that Jesus welcomed and accepted them.  We are called to do the same.  

Sharing God’s Love,

Prayer:  Thank you, Jesus, for loving and accepting us.  Help us to share your love and acceptance with those around us. Amen.

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