BY PASTOR T. O. BANSO
You must have heard about the Good Samaritan many times. Jesus, in a parable in Luke 10:30-37, spoke about the Good Samaritan. Teaching about who a neighbour is, in answer to the question asked by a certain lawyer, Jesus illustrated how the priest and the Levite had no compassion on the man who was attacked by armed robbers and left in pain. But a despised Samaritan passing by gave this njured man first aid treatment, took him to a hospital and paid the bill. That was the Good Samaritan, a phrase that has become a common expression.
However, there is also the story of the bad Samaritan, which underscores the fact that God wants everyone saved no matter anyone’s dirty past, present filthiness or crisis in life. The fact that God does not discriminate against anyone because of sex, race, etc.; the fondness of God to use the most unlikely person to achieve His purpose and the commitment of God to break through gender, religious, cultural, social barriers, etc. to get all saved.
Jesus spoke the parable of the Good Samaritan but he actually encountered the bad Samaritan in his earthly ministry. One thing peculiar to the ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ was that he never allowed barriers that men had constructed, especially by the religious people of his day, to limit him; he swam against the tide of religion, culture and social classification to get the message of the gospel to the neglected, the rejected and indeed the poor. What a lesson for those who are his followers today! We must avoid discrimination, segregation and socio-cultural, religious and racial barriers because Jesus died on the cross that all may be saved.
All have sinned and have come short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23). God wants all people to come to Him as they are and whoever comes to him, He shall not, in any way cast out (John 6:37). It is not for us to determine who can receive salvation. We must avoid creating barriers that make it difficult for people to enter into the Kingdom of God or hinder other soul winners from reaching those some have erroneously believed are unfit for the Kingdom. God has never given up on anybody no matter how deep such has fallen into sin or submerged in sin.
Encounter with the Samaritan woman
In John 4, Jesus met the bad Samaritan. She was a woman with a complicated life. She was a woman who had been moving from the house of one husband to another. At the time Jesus met her at the well of Jacob, she told Jesus “I don’t have a husband.” That was her reply to Jesus’ word to go and call her husband. She claimed to have no husband but she was not saying the whole truth because she was not a woman who never married. She was actually living with a man at that time, and Jesus told her by the word of knowledge, “You’re right! You don’t have a husband – for you have had five husbands, and you aren’t even married to the man you’re living with now” (Verses 17-18, NLT).
What kind of life was this woman living? Five husbands in the past and even the one she was living with at the time Jesus was speaking with her was not her husband? What a mess! Her life was really a terribly bad life.
I have heard a suggestion that the woman’s former husbands might have died after she married each of them and not that the woman decided to move from one husband to the other. That sounds very unfortunate but I do not think that was her case. Some have also suggested she was a serial divorcée. Though the Bible does not specifically say the woman was wayward, there is the likelihood that there was something about her marital life she wanted to avoid discussing with Jesus.
But the woman was jolted by this revelation of the condition of her life by a stranger, a Jew, who had earlier asked her for a drink and she had told him Jews and Samaritans never associated – Jews treated the Samaritans with levity; Jews would not use same things with Samaritans This despise emanated from the history of the Samaritans.
Who were Samaritans?
Following the fall of the Northern kingdom and her capital, Samaria, to the Assyrians, many Jews were carried as captives to Assyria and replaced with foreigners to help keep the peace (2 Kings 17:24-29). These foreigners intermarried with the Jews remaining in the land which resulted in a mixed race that the Jews in the Southern kingdom considered impure; they hated this impure mixed race called the Samaritans. In addition, this mixed race had gone ahead to establish a place of worship called Mount Gerizim, parallel to the temple at Jerusalem (John 4:20).
The Jews and the Samaritans were not friends. The hatred the Jews had for the Samaritans was so serious that they avoided travelling through Samaria; they would turn round to follow another route which was longer. Jesus violated this tradition and would not allow himself to be put in a straightjacket by any discriminatory practice of his age. He took this route avoided by the Jews.
Religion doesn’t save you from sin
Against this backdrop and seeing a Jew he had never met before telling her about her marital misadventure, this life-messed-up woman quipped, “You must be a prophet,” and immediately switched over to ask a religious question apparently to divert attention from her marital crises and her sinful life. But Jesus played along with her answering her religious question on the differences in the belief of the Jews and Samaritans on where to worship.
Jesus gave her the right answer: “Believe me, the time is coming when it will no longer matter whether you worship the Father here or in Jerusalem. You Samaritans know so little about the one you worship, while we Jews know all about him, for salvation comes through the Jews. But the time is coming and is already here when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for anyone who will worship him that way. For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth” (John 4:21-24, NLT).
The woman then said she knew the Messiah called Christ would come to explain everything to them. When Jesus told her, “I am the Messiah,” she left her water pot, ran into the city to proclaim to the people, and invited them to come to see a man who told her everything she ever did. “Can this be the Messiah?” she asked. The woman was religious yet not saved from sin! Are you religious or you’re born again?
It is possible that Jesus told the woman more things about her life than what is recorded in the Bible because she said Jesus told “me everything I ever did.” But the Bible did not give account of other things they discussed.
The Samaritan woman progressed from seeing Jesus as a Jew to seeing him as a prophet and eventually to seeing him as the Messiah. He came to the progressive realization that the person she had been speaking with was not an ordinary Jew but the Messiah they had been waiting for.
God can use anyone
This Samaritan woman who had such a bad reputation became an evangelist! “Many Samaritans from the village believed in Jesus because the woman had said, ‘He told me everything I ever did!’” (Verse 39, NLT) What a message!
How did God find it convenient and appropriate to use this woman with all the mess in her life? That woman simply had no credibility but God has chosen the foolish things of this world to confound the wise (1 Cor 1:27). Jesus did not consider it shameful talking with this woman. Talking with her would not make him unholy as many holy people in this age will think. Jesus did not even condemn this woman, as many of us will do in our desire to make her give her life to Jesus; he did not make her feel guilty just as he did not condemn the woman caught in adultery.
God determines the person He uses and we will have problem when we begin to choose whom He should use or not use. God does not need our permission. It is not by any human qualification; it is all about divine choice. God has the sovereign right and power to call a person in his mess and turn his mess to a message. We cannot query God’s wisdom. The foolishness of God is wiser than the wisdom of man (1 Cor 1:25).
Why should Rahab, a popular harlot known by even the king of Jericho, become an ancestress of our Lord Jesus Christ? She was the mother of Boaz, the father of Obed, who gave birth to Jesse, the father of David (Ruth 4:17, Matt 1:5-6). And Jesus came from the line of David in the tribe of Judah.
Why should God choose Solomon to succeed David and not Adonijah considering how Bathsheba became David’s wife? Adonijah himself said though the kingdom was his and all Israel had set their faces on him to reign, the tables were turned, and everything went to his brother (Solomon) instead because that was the way the Lord wanted it (1 Kings 2:15).
No one can query God; He never gives up on anyone and never uses one’s past against one especially in this dispensation of grace with the blood of Jesus already shed for the remission of our sins.
God did not disqualify the Samaritan woman because of her past. People might have described her with the negative in her life but to God she was an instrument in His hand waiting to be used. People might have used her negative past to relate with her – using her notoriety as an immoral woman, a woman with unstable marital life against her – but God never counted it against her.
In some cultures, if that woman had been married five times due to the death of each of the husbands as some have suggested, then the woman must be a witch! She must have killed those five husbands she married earlier! (I’m not saying she was a witch or killed her husbands). If she was a witch, she should be the last person to be telling the people about the Messiah. She was not qualified to do that! But the Bible says, “Who are you to criticize someone else’s servant? The Lord will determine whether his servant has been successful” (Rom 14:4 God’s Word Translation).
Through this Samaritan woman, the people of Sychar believed and begged Jesus to stay with them for two days in the city. During this period, many more Samaritans believed saying unto the woman, “Now we believe because we have heard him ourselves, not just because of what you told us. He is indeed the Savior of the world”(John 4:42, NLT). But the woman started it all and nobody could deny her that credit, even if nobody wanted to be associated with her.
In Jesus’ days and among the Jews, to be a Samaritan was like a curse but Jesus had no problem associating with them (John 4:9). In fact, the Pharisees called Jesus a Samaritan at a time in order to ridicule him (John 8:48). Jesus not only broke this social norm by associating with the Samaritans, he went as far as requesting a drink from the Samaritan woman, something Jews wouldn’t do.
How surprised Jesus’ disciples were to come back to see Jesus speaking alone with this woman. It was against their custom. It was even more embarrassing that it was this Samaritan woman.
In Luke 9:51-56, Jesus was denied access to one Samaritan village but in John 4 through the ministry of the Samaritan woman, the door of ministry was opened to Jesus. The people of Sychar actually begged him to stay with them for two days. What a wonder!
Where are you in life today?
It does not matter where you are in life today. It does not matter the crisis in your life – marital crisis, career crisis, financial crisis, etc. – know that Jesus loves you. He will put the pieces of your life together and make you whole again.
God is calling you today; don’t try to divert attention from the crisis, the mess in your life – don’t live in denial; face up with it today, turn over your life to Jesus. Jesus told the woman who had married five husbands in the past that the sixth husband she was living with was not her husband. You too have to face up to some truths about your life.
You may have to face up to the fact that the woman you’re living with now is not your wife; the man you are living with now is not your husband; you are a thief, an armed robber, a sexually immoral person, a murderer or a drunkard. You may have to face up to the fact that the life you’re living now is not God’s kind of life for you, the business or work you’re doing now does not have God’s approval, the level you’re in life now is not your level, the marriage you’re in now is not your marriage (it’s not what it used to be) etc. Stop pretending. You need divine encounter! A divine turnaround is possible for you! Cry to Jesus today!
Conclusion: If God’s purposes for the lives of Rahab, Tamar, Bathsheba, Ruth, Mary Magdalene, etc. could be fulfilled, there is hope for you too. If you come to Jesus today, he will not cast you away no matter the terrible depth you have gone to in sin.
Why wait any longer? Right now, you’ve got to turn over your life to Jesus. He’ll not reject you.
If you’re not born again, I urge you to take the following steps:*Admit you’re a sinner and you can’t save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start to attend a Bible-believing, Bible-teaching, soul-winning church. There you will be taught how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: “0 Lord God, I come unto you today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour and surrender my life to him today. I invite Jesus into my heart today. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank you Jesus for saving me and making me a child of God.”
I believe you’ve said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You’ll need to join a Bible believing, Bible teaching church in your area where you’ll be taught how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May the Lord make you a Cedar Christian. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. May the Lord be with you. I’ll be glad to hear from you.
T.O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
Phone No: +2348155744752, +2348033113523