The Kingdom of God & The Samaritan Woman. Leader Guide

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1 The Kingdom of God & The Samaritan Woman Leader Guide Unit 4 lesson 6

2 Scripture John 4:1-26 Lesson Overview: Cultural Dimension In this sixth and final lesson for this unit, we will observe Jesus s interaction and conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well and discuss how the work of the kingdom involves the work of reconciliation and peacemaking in the world. Sometimes it can be natural for us to discriminate against other people, depending on how they look or act. In this lesson students will be challenged to see the world with the same heart and eyes that Christ sees the world and to work toward peace with others. Biblical Commentary To better understand the significance of Jesus s conversation and interaction with the Samaritan woman at the well, it helps to have a familiarity with the historical context of John 4:1-26. Jesus lives during a time when there is a strong hatred between most Jews and Samaritans. Jesus, himself a Jew, could choose to avoid traveling through Samaria, but as the Messiah, Jesus decides to confront the broken relationship. The woman is surprised to find a man sitting by the well. Jesus s request for some water surprises her even more. After all, no Jewish rabbi would volunteer to carry on a public conversation with a woman, nor would a Jewish rabbi have any interest in drinking from a Samaritan s cup. The woman s response to Jesus confirms her suspicion. When Jesus tells the woman that he can bring living water, he means that he can forever quench a person s thirst for God. Jesus can bestow on her a gift of God that is greater than any ordinary water. The woman does not understand what Jesus means by living water. In his second reply, Jesus contrasts the water in the well and the water he intends to give. The well water will only alleviate thirst temporarily; the spiritual water will quench the inner thirst forever. Jesus s request for the woman s husband is both proper and strategic. It is proper because it is not thought of as good for a woman to speak with a man unless her husband is present. It is strategic because it places her in a dilemma where she has to admit and confess her past choices and sin. Jesus goes on to tell her that true worship of God is of the spirit, which means that the worshiper must deal openly and honest with God. As you read and discuss this week s passage with your students, help them understand that God desires his kingdom to reign in the hearts of all people. God also desires for there to be peace and reconciliation throughout the world, especially where hatred and hostility reside. There is no one in your family, community, city, country, or world whom God does not love and have a concern for. And because of this truth, we ought to share this same love and concern. Reflect on these themes: Reconciliation: As a follower and disciple of Christ, are you committed to the work of reconciliation and peace in the world? Think about your students: Do your students understand that, as followers of Christ, they are called to go into the world and extend hands of love and peace, especially in places where hostility resides? Resources Projector Nelson Mandela video link (listed below) David Ortiz video link (listed below, creative option) Construction Paper Writing utensils Markers/Crayons Scissors Journals 2

3 Messages to Parents and Teens For Teens: The following are a couple of text messages, Tweets, or Facebook statuses you could send out to your students to promote the meeting and/or prepare them for it. Hey there friends, please take a moment to read over John 4:1-26 before you make your way to group. We are going to be talking about the kingdom of God and reconciliation. What does reconciliation even mean? Let s talk about it this week! For parents: Here are some text messages to get parents and teens talking before your next meeting and a follow-up to equip parents to continue encouraging their teens to engage in living out God s mission. Please take a minute to read over John 4:1-26 with your students before group this week. We are taking about the kingdom of God and reconciliation in the world. Ask your student if they know what the word reconciliation means and to give an example of it. This is a follow-up /message you may wish to send to parents regarding the content that you studied during group time. Dear Parents, This week we looked at John 4:1-26, which is a story of Jesus speaking with a Samaritan woman by a well. We talked about how this simple story showed Jesus s commitment and work toward reconciliation and peace in the world. Samaritans and Jews were known for having a mutual hatred for each other, and a Jewish teacher would not be caught speaking to a Samaritan woman in public. By telling the woman about living water, Jesus showed that the gospel is not only for the Jews but also for the very people the Jews labeled as enemies. Here are a few questions you may wish to discuss with your teen: Here are a few questions you may wish to discuss with your teen: What are one or two things you remember from your small group time? What does it mean for us to seek reconciliation with others? 3

4 Lesson Guide Explore As you open your group time together, give the students an opportunity to share highlights from their week. Also allow students to share any praises or prayer requests. Open your group time in prayer. Option: A Snapshot of Reconciliation: Nelson Mandela Purpose: To introduce the topic of reconciliation by looking at Nelson Mandela s actions. ASK: Can any of you tell me who Nelson Mandela is and what he is known for? SAY: Nelson Mandela is a man who spent 27 years in prison for trying to combat apartheid in South Africa. Apartheid was racial segregation between whites and blacks that was supported by the country s governmental institutions for several years. After being released from prison, Nelson Mandela, a black man, became the president of the country in the 1990s. He helped bring unity and peace to a country that was full of hatred and racism. The 2009 movie Invictus gives us some insight into his life. In the video you are about to see, many of the black South Africans hoped that Nelson Mandela would finally get revenge on the whites. As Nelson Mandela walked into the room and prepared to give a speech, they hoped to hear him make statements like: Now we will finally get revenge on the white man! Now they will finally know what it is like to suffer. However, his speech is quite different from what they expect. This video shows his response. Show this clip. ASK: What did Nelson Mandela say in the video? SAY: Even after many of the whites have treated the blacks so poorly for years and years, Nelson Mandela tells the people, We must surprise them with the compassion, with the restraint and generosity. Nelson Mandela responds to years of violence and racism with compassion, restraint, and generosity. President Mandela is trying to build bridges of peace and reconciliation between the whites and the blacks. In this week s lesson, we are going to see how Jesus helps bridge gaps of peace and love between people. Encounter Ask a volunteer to read John 4:1-26. You may want to read this passage twice, using two different translations so students can better understand and learn the passage. Option: Questions Surrounding the Text Purpose: To help students explore and understand the passage. ASK: In verse 9 we learn that Jewish people did not usually associate with Samaritans. If that is the case, why do you think Jesus started a conversation with this woman? What do you think Jesus meant when he talked about having living water? SAY: This is another one of those passages where we can learn a lot from Jesus s actions. Jews and Samaritans usually didn t associate with one another. That is why the woman was so surprised that Jesus asked her for a drink. When Jesus began talking about having living water, he was telling the woman that the Messiah didn t just come for Jewish people; he came to be the Messiah for all people in the world, Samaritans included! This living water that Jesus talked about would satisfy a spiritual quench that all people had. Through a simple conversation with this woman at the well, Jesus was beginning to break down the walls of hatred and separation that existed between Jews and Samaritans. This act of peacemaking and bridging broken relationships between people is called reconciliation. ASK: Can you think of a story of reconciliation or peacemaking from real life, a book, or a movie? Describe the story. Where do you see anger and hatred between people in our world today? How could God use you to build love and peace among people where there is fighting and hatred? SAY: Just as Jesus extended love and hope to this Samaritan woman, we as followers of Christ are called to be people of peace and reconciliation in the world. In the kingdom of God there is no hatred in the hearts of people toward one another. Option: Who Were the Samaritans? Purpose: To help students gain a better understanding of who the Samaritans were and why Jesus s actions were so significant. (This option works best once groups have already read and discussed the main passage.) ASK: Does anyone know who the Samaritans were and why there was so much anger between the Jews and the Samaritans? 4

5 SAY: The Samaritans were a group of Jews who intermarried with non-jews. Many of the pure Jews saw this as completely wrong. Sometimes when Jews intermarried with other groups, they also began to worship the foreign gods of the people they married. As a result, many of the pure Jews accused Samaritans of being fake Jews or half-breeds. They were no longer truly Jewish because they had married foreigners, and because of this they were looked down upon. In fact, the Jews looked down on the Samaritans so much that many Jews refused to travel through Samaria and actually took a longer path just to avoid it. Therefore, when Jesus decided to travel through Samaria and tell this woman about the living water he offers, he came to help repair the hatred that existed between the two groups. SAY: The great thing about Jesus is that this is not the only time in the gospels where we read about Jesus doing the work of reconciliation and extending peace to others. ASK: How did Jesus practice peace and reconciliation by eating and hanging out with sinners? How did Jesus practice love and reconciliation while he was being crucified with two thieves in Luke 23:32-43? How was Jesus allowing himself to be crucified on the cross for our sins an act of reconciliation? Engage Option: Journal It- Reconciliation For Us Purpose: To give students the opportunity to think about their own lives and how they can seek reconciliation in the broken or damaged relationships in their lives. Give each student some construction paper and have them write or draw a picture of a relationship in their life where there is brokenness. This could be a broken relationship with a friend, a stepparent, or someone else. Give students a couple minutes to think about this and write or draw it out. Once they are finished, have them rip up the construction paper into several different pieces. Have the students turn to a new page in their journals and write at the top of the page: The Work of Reconciliation. Then, using tape or glue, have students put their ripped-up paper back together to symbolize the work of reconciliation that God calls us to. Give students 8 to 10 minutes to complete this. Once students are finished, give them the opportunity to share what they wrote (if they wish). Close your time by praying for these broken relationships, that, through God, there might be reconciliation, peace, and forgiveness. Closing Reaffirm the following truths to your students: Jesus built bridges of peace and reconciliation by journeying through Samaria and through his conversation with the Samaritan woman. There is peace and reconciliation in the kingdom of God. We are called to be people who foster peace and reconciliation with those around us. Close your lesson in prayer. Pray that God would help each of us build bridges of peace, love, and reconciliation with those around us. 5

6 Creative Options Explore: Red Sox vs. Yankees Purpose: To use a baseball rivalry to introduce the topic of reconciliation. ASK: Does anyone know what the word reconciliation means? SAY: To reconcile is to make peace between people where there is hostility and fighting. When we reconcile with others, we are building bridges of peace. I know not all of you are baseball fans, but this video will give you a fun snapshot of reconciliation. There has been a pretty strong rivalry between the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees in Major League Baseball over the years. David Ortiz is one of the most well-known Red Sox players and has played a big role in beating the Yankees. Check out this video of David Ortiz (a.k.a. Big Papi) visiting New York, the home of the Yankees. Play the following video for your students: SAY: While this example is a little silly, David Ortiz helps reconcile the anger and hatred that some Red Sox fans and Yankees fans have for one another by hugging the enemy fans. In this week s lesson, we are going to see Jesus build bridges of reconciliation between two groups of people who had a long history of hatred toward each other. Encounter: Worship and Reconciliation Purpose: To look at another passage in the gospels that speaks about the theme and importance of being reconciled to one another. (This option works best once students have already read and discussed the main passage.) Read Matthew 5:23-26 as a group. Do you ever think it is ever okay to hate someone? Why or why not? What does this passage say about reconciliation? Do you think it is possible to truly worship God while holding on to hatred toward someone else? Why or why not? How is making peace and being reconciled with someone sort of like taking a big weight off your back? Engage: Seeking Reconciliation Purpose: To encourage students to think about their own lives and how God is calling them to be people who build bridges of peace and reconciliation with others. SAY: Jesus showed us through his life and his interaction with the Samaritan woman at the well that in the kingdom of God there is peace and reconciliation among people. This can be easier said than done. I want to challenge all of you to think of a relationship in your life that may be broken or damaged for one reason or another. I want to encourage you to think about what it would look like to seek peace and reconciliation with that person. It may mean having to apologize to this person, it may mean writing a letter to someone, or it may mean doing something nice for this person. As we close in prayer, ask God to show you ways you can extend love and peace to this broken relationship. 6

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