Many Samaritans from that city believed in him because of the woman’s testimony… They said to the woman, ‘It is no longer because of your words that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Saviour of the world.” (John 4: 39, 42)
We were told that learning is either caught or taught. We learn things because we were told so. We learn things because we discover them, or get upon or get across with them.
The Samaritan woman told them.
The Samaritans from that city first learned about this Jesus when the woman told them about him. They believed in the woman’s testimony. They found it true.
What made me ponder upon their belief to the testimony of this woman is her credibility in telling what she told them. First consideration is that she was a woman. During that time women had no voice in the society. They were considered nothing but less than men.
Second consideration is that she had no husband at that time or living with a man out of wedlock as Allan Culpepper would describe. A woman who had no husband might add to his lower status inthe society.
Given the two considerations, how were those Samaritan people believed in her testimony about the messiah whom even the Pharisees found it difficult to believe? Perhaps, they had found something in the testimony of the woman that speaks about the truth in the messiah –Jesus.
Nowadays, speaking about Jesus is an awkward topic to the youth or more specifically among men of my age. Speaking about Jesus or something related to goodness makes one soft, girly, foppish or sissy. What makes one in or manly are topics on sex, pranks, or one that would make one appear bad guy – the more one becomes a villain the better.
Speaking about Jesus is only for priests and women. Going out barhopping is more attractive than being into a prayer meeting or into church services.
That Samaritan woman spoke about Jesus even if people might not believe her. She told them about their encounter and what Jesus told her. The Samaritan people in that city believed her. They believed in her testimony.
Perhaps, it is but a good inspiration for us to continue proclaiming Jesus to other people despite the sinfulness and weaknesses we see in ourselves or despite the prejudices people have on us. We must never be afraid of telling and proclaiming the Lord in other people, even if it’s unpopular or unmanly.
They have heard for themselves.
We learned later that the Samaritan people invited Jesus to stay with, and he stayed there for to days. Now, they believe not because of what the woman told them, but because they have heard for themselves, and that they know that He is truly the Saviour of the world.
The joy in learning about Jesus from other people is amazing but it is even more amazing when we come to be with him even for two days. Perhaps, the joy that the Samaritan people experienced when Jesus was speaking with them was incomparable. It must be a grace-experience that they even confirmed, “this is truly the Saviour of the world.”
It is beautiful to preach what we learned about God to other people. As many of us would always do – preaching Jesus to other people with high and big words, not even connecting to experience and concrete realities. Although, it is beautiful to preach what other people think about God, but we must remind ourselves that preaching is not just simply saying or repeating what other people have already said. Preaching is about touching other people’s lives that would move them to conversion. This will only be made possible when we preach the God whom we encounter and who already made significant changes in our lives.
Perhaps, this is the reason why seminary formation would take ten or more years. We are given the opportunity to encounter and know this Jesus that we will eventually tell and preach to other people. We are given the venue to build a deep relationship with this God whom we are going to proclaim to other people. However, I must say that ten, eleven, twelve, or fifteen years may not be enough. For an encounter with Jesus is a constant invitation every single day. It does not end when we graduate from theology or when we get ordained. This is a lifetime commitment of encounter and friendship. This is a lifetime commitment of establishing and nurturing our commitment with this God whom we must invite to stay with us like those Samaritan people.
In the end, I think it doesn’t matter whether we learn many things about Jesus from other people or in deep encounters with Him in prayer. The invitation for us perhaps, is how will our knowledge about this Jesus move us to proclaim Him to other people and be living witnesses of His words.
JULIUS HABANA (san jose seminary)