I cannot imagine what it was like for families making the decision to go back to Jerusalem after spending so many years in Babylon. Some of them had children that were born, raised and were now working and providing for families of their own. In many ways, it was their home, with their friends and their communities.
To go back to Jerusalem was a big unknown. I know my parents and my wife’s parents came to Canada from Europe and started from scratch, so I know a little about what that may have meant. They did this without God, so the people of Israel had a head start knowing that the story of their return to the promised land was shared from generation to generation. They were doing what Abraham had done. I sometimes think about what I would do – am I willing to obey Christ no matter how much it costs? I believe this is what it means to be His disciple.
I look at the Samaritan woman at the well story and know that when I make the decision to follow Jesus, I will have a life transformation moment just like she experienced. I cannot imagine the number of steps Jesus took for her to receive so much healing. Women were never called “daughters of Abraham.” Jesus made the woman feel as if she had equal worth to God. Jesus continues to ignore two codes of behaviour. His conversation with the foreigner, and the fact she was a woman.
All of that did not matter. Jesus wanted to bring out a truth, and that was for a call for those to worship Him exclusively – the heart of Jesus’ ministry on earth.
But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” – John 4: 23-24 ESV
In this very prolonged dialogue, there is a recognition and then an honouring for her thirst for truth. Jesus reveals He is the Messiah. When the disciples come back that are so confused as to what He was doing.
Another tradition was changed, for Jewish thought gave no heed to a woman’s testimony for it was seen as not trustworthy. But look at the reaction from those that heard her excited words and acted on them:
Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me all that I ever did.” – John 4:39 ESV
Jesus is invited to spend a few days with this community. Her encounter with Jesus changed her from a stranger – to a learner – to a teacher of others. By experiencing this, she broke through old barriers of distrust and hatred that everyone took for granted.
The cost was a hard time of change she had to go through, and so quickly, but it was all worth it at the end.