A woman of Samaria came to draw water.
I am sharing my notes from Hermann Harrell Horne’s , Teaching Techniques of Jesus. Horne’s style, which he models in his writing, is to constantly ask questions. Asking questions is the supreme teaching method. My words in these posts are my answers and thoughts, spurred by Horne’s observations and questions about Jesus’ teaching techniques.
Previously, we introduced the author and his book, then looked at chapter 1, which was about ‘the teaching situation’. To review, the situation can have six and perhaps more attributes or dimensions.
Here they are again:
- a teacher
- a pupil
- aim (goal of teacher)
- method (way of teaching)
Chapter 2 is:
AN OBJECT LESSON IN TEACHING
(Italics indicate a direct quote from the book or the Bible)
Horne states that Jesus never deliberately gave his disciples a lesson on how to teach, like how he washed their feet to teach them humility. But we can take examples of his teaching as lessons for our study on how he taught. Chapter two analyzes the story of how Jesus taught the Samaritan woman, from John 4:1-43.
Here are the six dimensions to this teaching situation:
- Jesus is the teacher
- the Samaritan woman is the learner
- Jacob’s well is the environment
- the water of life & transformation is the subject or curriculum
- the transforming of a life is the aim or goal of the teaching
- Jesus utilized an occasion as it arose.
Jesus’ method with Nicodemus, in John 3, was Q & A, a remarkable illustration, and the element of surprise. Here, with the Samaritan woman, it is an occasion that arose. They found themselves in the same space and it was unplanned.
We are going to look closer at how Jesus utilized this occasion to teach this lady. Stop and consider that this is not just evangelism, but teaching. If you see yourself as a teacher, see this story through a new teaching lens, of Jesus.
This is a, “Jesus has left the building”, story. The teacher, Jesus, and now us, does not just teach inside ‘the building’. The full exercise of teaching is to teach outside and inside the building.
When Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard he was making and baptizing more disciples than John (though Jesus himself was not baptizing, but his disciples were), he left Judea and went again to Galilee. He had to travel through Samaria; so he came to a town of Samaria called Sychar near the property that Jacob had given his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, worn out from his journey, sat down at the well. It was about noon.
Jesus was tired and it was time for lunch. He was chilling while the others went to find some food. That is the backdrop to this encounter.
They were at the well. He was thirsty and she was there to get water. He established a point of contact
, when he asked her for a drink.
A woman of Samaria came to draw water.
“Give me a drink,” Jesus said to her, because his disciples had gone into town to buy food.
Jesus got this lady’s attention and interest from the start
. Because he did something that was not done, that was counter-cultural.
When you show up ‘where you don’t belong’ and actually talk to people, you might spark their interest and get the attention of people who are used to being ignored by you.
Just beginning a conversation with the Samaritan lady was riveting enough in it’s “surprise power”
to totally get her attention for whatever he wanted to say to her.
But Jesus did not surprise her to speak to her, but rather to listen to her. When we stop talking and instead listen, we will be surprised at what the other person will tell us. And often they will end up telling us what God is doing in their lives, because they will have asked us something that our answer will give away that we are a person of God or that is focused on God.
Jesus crossed the racial, religious and sexual boundaries or prejudices, customs and ‘norms’, when he spoke to her. Just doing that gave him an audience with her.
His method was the conversational method
. He taught her a lesson, from her own life.
“How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?” she asked him. For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.
Jesus answered, “If you knew the gift of God, and who is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would ask him, and he would give you living water.”
“Sir,” said the woman, “you don’t even have a bucket, and the well is deep. So where do you get this ‘living water’? You aren’t greater than our father Jacob, are you? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and livestock.”
Jesus said, “Everyone who drinks from this water will get thirsty again. But whoever drinks from the water that I will give him will never get thirsty again. In fact, the water I will give him will become a well of water springing up in him for eternal life.”
“Sir,” the woman said to him, “give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and come here to draw water.”
The teaching came from what was already happening in her life. The teacher gift that Jesus operated in, came to bear on the material she provided. He had no agenda or script that he launched into.
He only responded to what she brought to ‘the table’.
What if we envisioned people as already being loved by God and on a journey with problems, questions and needs and we let them tell us where it hurts?
He used the conversational method. Seven times he addressed her and six times she replied, the arrival of the disciples interrupting the conversation.
She was one person, but ministering to her alone opened the door to Jesus ministering to many Samaritans for two days. One person usually has many connections. Newly saved people are the most powerful evangelists or witnesses to God’s work in a life, because it is fresh, new and completely credible or compelling to others: real and authentic.
We can teach a crowd and have some amen’s, smiles and thank you’s, with little or no transformation. On the other hand, we can focus, with God, on one person, in whom God is doing something transformative with. Then, that one goes, in the power of God upon their life and shares with many others, effectively.
Jesus modeled something for us here to teach us how to do God’s work. He personally associated with this person. He sat with her, talked to her and answered her questions, while asking nothing of her besides a drink of water for his natural thirst.
Sit with the outcast and answer her questions. That is how God changes lives.
One of the interesting parts of the conversation that started and ended with water, was when the lady started to talk about the spiritual or religious activities, about worship. Imagine this is you or me, and we get side-tracked into the ‘worship wars’ discussion, that is really an embarrassing ‘in-house’ debate that does nothing to get pre-Christians saved. Jesus did not take the bait and neither should we.
Jesus brought the conversation back to God’s work in her life. Loud or soft, acoustic or amplified, instrumental or acapella, contemporary or old hymns…. These are all distractions! Jesus is fine with all forms of worship music. What he is most passionate about is our hearts for God: “worship in spirit and in truth”: intelligent worship
“Go call your husband,” he told her, “and come back here.”
“I don’t have a husband,” she answered.
“You have correctly said, ‘I don’t have a husband,’” Jesus said. “For you’ve had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.”
“Sir,” the woman replied, “I see that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews say that the place to worship is in Jerusalem.”
When Jesus brought up her husband(s), it was a ‘word of knowledge’. That’s a spiritual gift that Paul mentions in 1 Corinthians 12:8. Jesus did not minister out of his divinity, but as a human, filled with and dependent on the Spirit. He was fully man and fully God, setting aside his divinity during his incarnate life (Phil. 2:7).
Just read verse one of John chapter four: “When Jesus learned…”
Jesus said, “you’ve had five husbands”. What he said, in a sense, was, “I see your great sadness”.
You have to consider what God’s goal is and the means to that goal. The goal is union or reconciliation; and the means is love.
God’s love is relentless, but not harsh or unkind. Look at ‘the love chapter’ in 1 Corinthians 13.
Jesus does not say, “You have been divorced five times”, or, “You are an adulteress” He simply says, “God is showing me that you have had five husbands and the man who’s home you live in is not your husband”.
We do not know for sure that she has been divorced. Her five husbands might have died.
What about the second part? She could ‘have’ a man, in her life, who is watching out for her and giving her shelter (a home), who is not her husband or lover.
Jesus’ word of knowledge is not a condemning indictment. And she perceived that he was operating as a prophet, when he gave her those words of knowledge.
Prophecy and word of knowledge are two separate gifts. Both are taught on by Paul in 1 Corinthians.
Prophets (small p) often operate in ‘word of knowledge’, but a ‘word of knowledge’ is not a prophecy. Prophecy or prophetic words are always encouraging (1 Cor. 14:3). Also, prophetic ministry is part of normal Christianity (1 Cor. 14:31, Rev. 19:10).
We are looking at Jesus teaching, where he gives a word of knowledge, is perceived as a prophet, and is evangelizing a person; who receives the living water of God and opens the way for her whole town to meet and hear Jesus.
When we get a word like this, it is about compassion and mercy. We have said, “Love the sinner and hate the sin”, but we have talked and acted like we are about, “Hate the sin, then love the sinner”. This is backwards and not Jesus.
You might be saying, “I am not an evangelist. I don’t do street evangelism”. But, you do talk with people, outside of your role of teacher. This story, of Jesus and the Samaritan woman, illustrates to us how to teach ‘outside the box’: outside of the church building, classroom, or Bible Study space.
Imagine taking the principles illustrated in this encounter that Jesus had and using them, when you teach. What if you used an occasion, as it arose; mainly listened and let the ‘students’ ask the questions, had a conversation guided by the others and trusted the Spirit to superintend, and be open to operating in spiritual gifts in a loving fashion?
Jesus told her, “Believe me, woman, an hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know. We worship what we do know, because salvation is from the Jews. But an hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in Spirit and in truth. Yes, the Father wants such people to worship him. God is spirit,and those who worship him must worship in Spirit and in truth.”
The woman said to him, “I know that the Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”
Jesus told her, “I, the one speaking to you, am he.”
I already mentioned the worship discussion. But, here is another note. This lady who was not Jewish or in Israel, and because of her ethnic heritage, was an outsider, was also looking for the Messiah.
If you do some homework on the topic, you will find that Samaritans were looked down upon by some of the Jews. The story of ‘the good Samaritan’ is an indictment against the self-righteous Jewish leaders of the day. The Samaritan, who would have been looked down on by the Jewish elites, turned out to be the guy who did the right thing, had mercy.
The lesson is that people who are dismissed by the chosen ones, are cherished by God.
The water might represent what people think they need, to survive and live. The reality is that every person needs God and needs redeeming through Christ.
All the ways and means, passions and proclivities, are in a sense, people seeking meaning and seeking to find their way through life. People, like the lady in this story, have a story, that we should listen to.
Most of the time, people’s stories have God in them and they also have an opinion about worship or religion. Listening to them, while listening to God, while having a conversation is a way of teaching that Jesus demonstrates for all of us.
The greatest way to minister (to be a leader) is to be a servant. The best way to be a servant is to listen. We usually say, “Listen to me teach you”, but a better way is for us to teach as we listen.
There is a world of people out there who are looking for God, but are not going to come to church (to the building) to look for him. Go out to where the people are. The teaching that changes lives happens where those lives are already living.
Next time, chapter 3 notes: How Did Jesus Secure Attention?
Learning How To Teach From Jesus: