Jesus with the Samaritan woman

(John 4:7-26 NIV)  When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, "Will you give me a drink?" {8} (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.) {9} The Samaritan woman said to him, "You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?" (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.) {10} Jesus answered her, "If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water." {11} "Sir," the woman said, "you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? {12} Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his flocks and herds?" {13} Jesus answered, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, {14} but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." {15} The woman said to him, "Sir, give me this water so that I won't get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water." {16} He told her, "Go, call your husband and come back." {17} "I have no husband," she replied. Jesus said to her, "You are right when you say you have no husband. {18} The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true." {19} "Sir," the woman said, "I can see that you are a prophet. {20} Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem." {21} Jesus declared, "Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. {22} You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. {23} Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. {24} God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth." {25} The woman said, "I know that Messiah" (called Christ) "is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us." {26} Then Jesus declared, "I who speak to you am he."

Jesus was friendly with someone of another culture

{9} The Samaritan woman said to him, "You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?" (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)

The Jews and Samaritans came from different cultural backgrounds and there was tension between the two people groups. The Jews did not associate with the Samaritans. But Jesus was different. He was not hostile to the Samaritan woman even though she was from another culture. He made the first effort to make friends with her. This friendly gesture even surprised her.

Christians and Muslims can be very different, not just in aspects of religious beliefs but also culturally. We should follow the example of Jesus and make the effort to cultivate friendship with Muslims. Learning more about the culture of our Muslim friends enable us to build relationships with them.

Friendship is cultivated when you are prepared to meet felt needs

{10} Jesus answered her, "If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water."

The Samaritan woman was there to obtain water. Jesus managed to get her interest and attention when He offered to give her living water. Jesus offered her something that met her felt need.

When we want to cultivate a relationship with someone, it may have to start with meeting a felt need. Is there any area in that person’s life that we can help to make a difference in?

A person who has urgent needs may not be interested in listening to the gospel until you have proven that your interest goes beyond merely sharing the gospel. You have to earn the right to be heard.

Jesus used a casual conversation to develop into a meaningful religious discussion

{7} When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, "Will you give me a drink?" … {10} Jesus answered her, "If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water." {13} Jesus answered, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, {14} but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life."

In our daily life, we engage in many mundane conversations. These are not wrong but to understand a person better we need to talk about deeper issues. Jesus was a master in turning ordinary mundane conversations into meaningful religious discussions.

We can learn from the example of Jesus. When we engage in casual conversations with our Muslim friends, look for opportunities to get to know them at a deeper level. How do I know the man that he is, his convictions, his beliefs, his relationship with God?

Jesus always shared His thoughts in a way people can understand

When Jesus spoke to an expert in the law, He discussed about keeping the law and what constitutes the law. (Luke 10:25­-28) Such topics would have been totally alien to the Samaritan woman. We need to speak in a way that people can understand. Jesus used many parables on farming because He was speaking to a predominantly farming community at that time.

When Jesus spoke to the Samaritan woman, He did it in a way that she could relate to. He used a simple illustration like water to explain what it means to have living water so that one will never thirst again.

When we talk about our religious beliefs to our Muslim friends, be careful to present them in a manner that they can understand, in a manner that is not offensive to them. For example, if we use the concept of “anak bulan” to explain “son of God”, or use the concept of “eternal Quran became a book” to explain “eternal Word of God became flesh”, it is much easier for Muslims to understand.

Jesus gave the Samaritan woman reason to accept what He said

{17} "I have no husband," she replied. Jesus said to her, "You are right when you say you have no husband. {18} The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true." {19} "Sir," the woman said, "I can see that you are a prophet.

Jesus wanted to tell her that He was the Messiah that everyone was waiting for, something she came to understand at the end of their conversation (v 25, 26). But to get there, Jesus had to prove to her that He was indeed from God.

Jesus demonstrated that he knew details of her life even though He had met her for the first time. Only a man of God would be able to do that.

The apostle Peter writes…

(1 Pet 3:15 NIV)  Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect…

Muslims will wonder why Christians hold on to certain doctrines, why we believe that Jesus is God, why we believe the Bible is the Word of God. Many of these doctrines will appear strange, if not offensive to them. We have the responsibility to explain to them why we believe in them. But we should always do so in gentleness and respect.

Look for areas of agreements when dialoging with Muslims

{16} He told her, "Go, call your husband and come back." {17} "I have no husband," she replied. Jesus said to her, "You are right when you say you have no husband. {18} The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true."

Even though Christianity and Islam are different religions, we must not forget that there are many areas of similarities as well. When you talk to a Muslim, eagerly acknowledge aspects of truth that are in Islam as well as Christianity. Use this as a bridge to build friendships so that you can continue to have friendly and constructive discussions about your beliefs.

Be prepared to dialog about the differences between Christianity and Islam

{20} Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem." {21} Jesus declared, "Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.

While Jesus was all out to make friendship with this woman, He was not compelled to agree with everything she says. Likewise, while we endeavor to deepen our friendship with Muslims, we must be aware that there are real differences between Christianity and Islam. We should not pretend that these two religions are the same. However, the differences can be used as areas for friendly dialog.