DISCOVERING A
LIVING FAITH
studies in scripture by David and Renée
Sanford




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Like the Samaritan Woman
I am satisfied because God knows, loves, and fills me.

What does it take to satisfy your deepest thirst for life?

Plenty of fashionable clothes? A successful career? Status and power? A beautiful home? Security? All of the above and committed, loving relationships, too?

When the Samaritan woman came to the well, she craved the satisfaction of her physical thirst. When she got there, she met a man who promised not only to quench her thirst, but also to fill her life with living water that would never run dry. But she quickly found out that none of that water would soothe her throat—it would well up from within her innermost being.

Even though this woman didn’t fully understand her own thirst, Jesus knew her searching heart. She was looking for the Messiah who would explain all things. To the searching individual, Jesus did not speak in parables. He told her something he hadn’t told anyone else straight out: “I am the Messiah.”

But why should she believe him? After all, Jesus had asked her for water, then claimed he had something better. He then declared her national religion inadequate and revealed the pain and shame of her life. Yet in exposing all her insufficiencies, Jesus also shared a beautiful secret—the Father was looking for men and women who would worship him in spirit and in truth.

Instead of running back to the safety of her sin and dysfunctional way of life, this hurting woman grabbed hold of Jesus’ invitation to come into a love relationship with the Father. A minute later, she forgot all about her empty water jug in her excitement to run back to town and tell others about her newfound Savior. What clear evidence that the water of eternal life already was welling up within her!

Only God can satisfy the human heart and all its longings. Like the Samaritan woman, you and I can find true satisfaction nowhere else.

FURTHER STUDY: The woman in this story was from Samaria, or in the Hebrew, Shomron, a central region of ancient Palestine. Samaria extends for about 40 miles (65 km) from north to south and 35 miles (56 km) from east to west. It is bounded by Galilee on the north and by Judaea on the south; on the west was the Mediterranean Sea and on the east the Jordan River. The mountain ranges of southern Samaria continue into Judaea with no clearly marked division. Ancient Shechem (near modern Nabulus), in the centre of Samaria, served as the crossroads and political centre of the region.

At the time of the Israelite conquest of Palestine, the strategic sites of the region of Samaria were in the hands of the Canaanites. Although the Israelites were able to win footholds in the hill country, some of the key Canaanite strongholds in the neighbouring plains or valleys successfully resisted them until the days of King David (10th century BC). The region of Samaria was assigned to the house of Joseph, that is, to the tribe of Ephraim and to half of the tribe of Manasseh. After the death of King Solomon (10th century), the northern tribes, including those of Samaria, separated from the southern tribes and established the separate kingdom of Israel. Its capital first was at Tirzah (perhaps modern Tall al-Fari'ah) and then, from the time of Omri (876–869 or c. 884–c. 872 BC), it was moved to the city of Samaria, then a new town built on a hilltop about 7 miles (11 km) northwest of Shechem. Although the northern kingdom was often stronger than Judah to the south and enjoyed greater economic development, it was crushed by Assyria in 722, and much of its population was carried into captivity.

In New Testament times Samaria was under Roman control and was to some extent a centre for Hellenistic culture. Jesus had little to do with the Samaritans, but, in the apostolic age, Greek-speaking Christians preached to them; this preaching marked a transition stage in the extension of the church into the gentile world. The Samaritan sect, which traces its origin back to the northern Israelite form of the Mosaic religion, still exists in small numbers at Nabulus and accepts only the Pentateuch as Scripture (see Samaritan).

Read further in John's gospel, chapter four, verse 14.


Sanguine drawing by Pontormo, c. 1526


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This excerpt is from the Living Faith™ Bible (Tyndale House Publishers)
Copyright © 2003, 2000 David and Renée Sanford

" Even though this woman didn’t fully understand her own thirst, Jesus knew her searching heart. She was looking for the Messiah who would explain all things. To the searching individual, Jesus did not speak in parables. He told her something he hadn’t told anyone else straight out..."

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