29th September 2018

The Bad Samaritan

“Don’t you have a saying, ‘It’s still four months until harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.’”
John 4:35 (NIV)

Most Christians are familiar with the story of The Good Samaritan. It is probably the best-known of all Jesus’ parables. In fact the expression ‘good Samaritan’ has become something of a cliche that is used to describe anyone who helps out another person when they need it.

On the other hand, the story of the “Bad Samaritan” is never mentioned. That’s a shame, because she is an interesting character. Did I say ‘she’? Yes indeed, and you would never believe how Jesus responded to her. All is revealed in Chapter 4 of John’s Gospel. Verses 1-2 show Jesus travelling through Samaria on the way to Galilee. It was about midday, and he stopped for a rest at a well. Shortly afterwards, a Samaritan woman came to the well, and Jesus asked if she could give Him some water.

If she had simply said: “Yes, of course, here you are,” the matter might have ended there. Instead, she started questioning Him. One question led to another, and Jesus revealed that he knew her to be a woman of dubious character. She had had no fewer than 5 husbands, and was now living with a man to whom she was not married. Rather than shaming her, however, this only led her to ask even more questions. In the Jewish culture of the time, it was forbidden for a Jew to speak to a Gentile, worse still for a Jewish man to speak to a Gentile woman, and worst of all for a Jewish man to speak to a Gentile woman of ill repute. Not only did Jesus brush all that aside, He did something remarkable by His own standards—he gave her ‘inside information’ that he shared with very few others. He told her about the Holy Spirit (described in verse 10 as living water); he revealed the Father and how he would be worshipped in future (verse 23); and finally, most amazing of all, he stated plainly that He was the expected Messiah (verses 25-26).

This was unprecedented. Why did Jesus share such vital information so openly with this unusual person? He explained his reason to his disciples: “Open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.” Jesus saw that the woman and her people were ready to accept his message. So he let her go back to town to spread the good news. As a result, many responded, came to hear him and became believers (verse 40-41).

Jesus reached out to people ready to listen to him, using as a messenger the last person you would expect—a woman who was despised, marginalised, a kind of outcast. But Jesus saw beyond the outward appearance. Perhaps he saw an opportunity to turn a ‘bad Samaritan’ into a ‘good Samaritan’!

But this Samaritan story was no parable, it was a true story—stranger than fiction. And a wonderful example of the amazing grace demonstrated again and again in Jesus’ unconditional love for those who needed Him.

Great Father, thank you for this inspiring example of your wonderful grace towards sinners, and especially towards ordinary people. Your love continues to amaze and encourage us, and is great news for all humanity.

Study by Gordon Brown

About the Author:
Gordon Brown is an Elder and serves on the Church Council of the London Congregation of Grace Communion International.

Local Congregation:
Grace Communion International London
Indian YMCA Student Hostel
Mahatma Gandhi Hall
41 Fitzroy Square

Meeting Time:
Saturday 2:30pm

Local Congregational Contact:
Barry Robinson
Email: london@gracecom.church

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