Petty Differences = Petty Religion

And he must needs go through Samaria. Then cometh he to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well: and it was about the sixth hour. There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink. (For his disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat.) Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.

John 4:4-9

The feuds and disputes between the Jews and the Samaritans were some of the worst in the history of mankind.

When the nation of Israel was divided after King Solomon’s reign, the two southern tribes were called Judah and the ten northern tribes kept the name Israel. Over time and through the occasion of captivity by the Assyrians, the ten northern tribes lost their ethnic and religious purity. The Assyrians occupied the area and their people intermingled with the Jews. This area later became known as Samaria. The Jews of Judea (Judah) looked at the Samaritans in disgust has only half-breed Jews. The Samaritans, in return, hated the Jews of Judea for their pride and arrogance.

It was not custom that the two people would have anything to do with one another. That is why this woman is not only shocked but probably held Jesus in contempt for even asking her to draw water for Him. As we study through this encounter, we will clearly see that if we hold to traditions of men and dwell on petty differences, our religious practice itself will become just a petty tradition.

The amazing exchange that is about to take place will show that Jesus truly is the Savior of God’s people in all the world, not just among the elite Jews of Judea. He will also begin breaking down the racial barriers between Jew and Gentile. And not only this, the woman will be one of the few people to whom Jesus will fully display Himself to be the Messiah.

What wondrous mercy!

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