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Generosity v. Investment

The Samaritan woman said to him [c. AD 30, near a well in the Israel’s present day “West Bank”], “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.    John 4: 9, 10

 

“History repeats itself.” “History teaches us that mankind learns nothing from history.”

 

Taken together – and taken by me to heart - these two quotes state that I must look carefully at history because a parallel to what happens today will already have occurred in the past, and that I must bear in mind that humankind will amazingly repeat those parallels despite their existence.

 

One of the most inflammable areas of the Middle East today is known as the West Bank. Israel is building settlements there against the wishes of the Palestinian Authority. One of the principal regions of the Palestinian Authority is called Nablus with its town of the same name. Nablus is the Samaria of old (see bold above) and the well where the woman met Jesus would have been just outside that present-day town.

 

Did you notice the words in brackets in bold above? “(For the Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.)” The situation in AD 30 is the same today. History repeats itself.

 

The antagonism of the under-privileged towards those who oppress them is all too evident today in Egypt, Libya, Yemen, and elsewhere.

 

Put another way, demands are being made upon rulers all the time and everywhere in the world. Demands are made upon others. Of course. Demands are made because donations aren’t made.

 

And in the AD 30 incident above Jesus, a Jew, asks for a drink of water from the well. To the woman Jesus was of the race that believed itself superior to her people to such an extent that they, the Jews, wouldn’t even speak to Samaritans.

 

But that request of Jesus was the beginning of generosity. It was misinterpreted. How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?

 

She had expected history to repeat itself. More to the point for me, do I not expect any word from Jesus to me to cause me harm and sorrow? Do I not expect him, in some way, to exploit me? To destroy what little joy I have?

  

Instead Jesus then uses the words “gift”, “give” and “given” in a single sentence. And what he was able to give her was “living water”. If only she would ask him. If only she knew who he was and what he was really like…..

 

This definitely was not history repeating itself. It was a first. But was it a one-off? Would it be repeated? Generosity? Generosity from Jesus?

 

Truth was that both the woman and her people had pursued “investment” for themSELVES. Her people, the Samaritans, had made a string of wrong choices in the centuries BC Before Christ. Wrong investments in a temple and in infrastructure that was destroyed. Wrong alliances that turned into oppression from those expected to help. And history had repeated itself.

 

The woman was in the same position.  The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.” Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.” The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet.”” Wrong “investments” in human relationships.

 

Will the gift of Jesus turn the tide? Will (his) generosity win the day (on her behalf)?

 

What he will invest in her is his life. He will give it to her. And, yes, history does repeat itself. And has done so many times since AD 30.

 
‘God gives not only generously, but genuinely, not only with an open hand but with a full heart.’ (John Blanchard, Speaker and writer)
 
‘God never tires of giving.’ (William Still, African-American slavery abolitionist, 1821-1902)
 
Richard Syvret

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