Read John 4:1-26
Jesus spent His life as a bridge builder – not a wall builder. He came to earth to span the gulf between sinful man and a perfect God through His work on the cross (Romans 5:8).
When Jesus walked this earth, it was dominated by prejudice and hatred. Yet He welcomed outcasts of society and showed them the love of the Father, regardless of race, morality, or economic status.
In John 4, Jesus built a spiritual bridge to a Samaritan woman and offered her “living water.” He violated three cultural barriers when He spoke to her.
- She was a woman. Self-righteous Jews would never even speak to a woman in public because they could be accused of immorality.
- She was a Samaritan. The most direct route from Jerusalem to Galilee was through Samaria, the land inhabited by the offspring of Assyrian invaders and Jews from the 10 tribes of the Northern Kingdom. Pious Jews would go around Samaria (even though it was much longer) because they did not want to have any contact with Samaritans, who were considered “half – breeds.” But Jesus “had to go through Samaria” (John 4:4) because He was on a bridge-building mission.
- The woman in this passage was indeed an immoral woman. She had been married five times and was living with a man who was not her husband.
Despite these cultural prohibitions, Jesus, “the Master Bridge Builder,” met this woman where she was and pointed her to an eternal relationship with God that only He could offer. Jesus refused to allow racial, cultural, or even moral barriers to keep Him from demonstrating the love of God to a woman who had never experienced real love.
One well-traveled pastor, who’s seen racism in all segments of society, calls prejudice the most pervasive sin of the entire world. George Barna wrote, “We cannot expect to influence our community for good until we repent of racist attitudes, inaccurate assumptions, and unrealistic expectations related to racial diversity” (The Second Coming of the Church).
Imagine what would happen if you and I followed the example of Jesus? Author Ron Sider writes, “Ultimately, racism in the church is a denial of the Gospel. Racial reconciliation in the church is a visible demonstration of the Gospel.“
May that kind of Gospel-empowered reconciliation be true in our lives, our home and our church!