In the New Testament, there appear Samaritans, a group of people, who were residents of the district of Samaria. They were regarded with scorn by the Jews. Jesus expressed his love for all Gentiles by his approach to the Samaritans. There are three places in which Jesus deals with Samaritans: The Parable of the Good Samaritan, The Samaritan Leper, and The Samaritan woman at the well.
The Parable of the Good Samaritan:
Jesus taught mainly in the form of parables: simple stories carrying great moral truths. In this parable, Jesus sought to expose the hypocrisy of the so-called superior and good men like the Pharisees. Instead, the inferior Samaritan is praised for his compassion and virtue.
Once during the Public Ministry of Jesus, a lawyer asked him what he must do to inherit eternal life. Jesus replied that one must do two things: Love God with all your might and Love your neighbour as much as you love yourself.
The lawyer was not satisfied and asked Jesus who he meant by one’s neighbour. To answer this, Jesus recounted the parable of the Good Samaritan.
Once a man traveling from Jerusalem to Jericho fell into the hands of bandits, who looted him and left him half dead by the roadside. After a while, a Pharisee passed by but moved to the other side of the road and resumed his journey. Similarly, a Levite came by the side and also did the same.
After some time, a Samaritan man reached the spot. He tenderly bandaged the wounded man, carried him and put him up in an inn. He paid the innkeeper his due and told him that if he needed more money to look after the wounded man, he would pay him later when he returned by that way.
Jesus ends the parable by asking the lawyer, who it was who proved to be the good neighbour to the wounded man. The lawyer realized what Jesus meant by the term neighbour by the deeds of the Good Samaritan. Jesus asked the lawyer to go and do the same to his neighbours.
The Samaritan Leper:
Jesus was traveling to Jerusalem, and he was passing through Samaria. Then as he reached a particular village, he saw ten lepers, who were standing far away. They addressed him and begged his mercy. He told them to go and present themselves to the priests.
They did as he told them and were cleansed. One of them, on being cleansed, returned to Jesus and glorified God. He fell to the feet of Jesus and offered his thanks. He was a Samaritan.
Then Jesus asked where the other nine lepers were and why only this leper who was a foreigner or Samaritan thanked God. And he told the Samaritan leper, “Arise, go your way. Your faith has made you well”. The Samaritan man is an example of great gratitude in the New Testament.
The Woman at the Well:
Jesus was traveling again through Samaria and came to a well called as Jacob’s well. Tired from his journey, Jesus rested at the well. It was the sixth hour. A Samarian woman approached the well to get water. Then, Jesus requested her for water. His disciples were away to purchase food.
The surprised Samaritan woman asked him why being a Jew; he was asking her for water as Samaritans were despised by Jews. Jesus replied if she realized who she was talking to, she would beg him for ‘living water’.
The woman was confused by what he meant by ‘living water.’ She asked him whether he was greater than Jacob, who had provided this well. Jesus answered that those who drank this water would thirst again, but the one who drank his living water would never thirst again and be granted everlasting life.
The woman asked him for this water. Jesus asked her to bring her husband. At this, she claimed that she lacked a husband. Jesus informed her that he knew she had been with five husbands. Now she was consorting with another man, who had not become her husband.
The Samaritan woman was amazed he knew so much about her and called him a true prophet. Jesus told her that the hour was coming to worship the spirit of God. The woman told him that she and other Samaritans believed that the Messiah will come.
Jesus told her, “I am He.” At this time, the disciples reached back and were surprised why Jesus was talking to a Samaritan woman.
The woman went away to the city and told others the amazing experience she had. They all wondered whether he was the Christ. Many of the Samaritans came to believe in Jesus due to the witnessing of the woman. They urged Jesus to stay with them, and he stayed there for two days.
Many came to believe him on hearing the words of Jesus. They told the woman that they believed not mainly because of the testimony of the woman but also by hearing his own words. “We know that he is indeed the Christ, the saviour of the world.”
This incident reveals Jesus’ call to his disciples to overcome their prejudices like scorning Samaritans. In his eyes, all humans are equal. By his interaction with the Samaritan woman, he is revealed to have divine knowledge. He is not only concerned with physical food but also spiritual food- the living water.