Introduction: How good are you when dealing with cross-cultural
issues? I’m not very good because I have not had much practice. Two
cross-cultural events stand out in my mind. When I started law school
about a third of my fellow students were Jewish. I thought Jews were
Biblical characters. It was surprising to have them in my class
competing with me for grades! One time when I was traveling in
Canada, a French-Canadian demanded to know why I did not speak
French. French? I replied that I lived in the United States and that
the alternative language to know was Spanish. I’m doubtful that I
made a friend. How do we deal with cultural differences in sharing
the gospel? Let’s dive into our study of the Bible and see what we
can learn!

  1. The Samaritan

    1. Read John 4:3-4. If you have GPS it generally gives you a
      choice between the shortest way and other ways you might
      prefer. This sounds like Jesus was forced to go through
      Samaria. What is the problem with that? (The Jews and the
      Samaritans did not like each other. The main problem was
      that, as Matthew Henry says in his commentary, “the
      Samaritans, both in blood and religion were mongrel Jews.”
      That kind of attitude is obviously not the basis for a
      strong friendship.)

    2. Read John 4:5-8. Put yourself in Jesus’ place. How are you
      feeling? (He was tired, hungry and thirsty.)

    3. Read John 4:9. In the United States we have a term,
      “political correctness.” It means that you have to be
      aware of your circumstances and not say anything that
      would insult anyone. Is this woman telling Jesus that He
      is not being politically correct? (Exactly. She is
      essentially saying, “You know about the problem between
      Jews and Gentiles, between males and females, you would
      not be asking me for a favor if you were following
      accepted patterns of behavior.)

    4. Read John 4:10. Is this a politically correct response?
      What do you think that this woman thought Jesus was
      saying? (Recall that Samaritans were considered
      religiously and racially inferior. Jesus now says that she
      lacks knowledge about God and lacks knowledge about the
      importance of Jesus. Both of these points would increase
      the friction because they are consistent with the existing
      stereotypes that Jews had of Samaritans.)

    5. Read John 4:11-12. What kind of response does the
      Samaritan woman make? Is she hurling insults back, is she
      challenging Jesus’ logic, or is she agreeing that
      Samaritans are inferior people? (Her response is mostly
      aimed at Jesus’ logic. She points out that He is in no
      position to be offering water because He cannot reach the
      water in the well. She calls Jacob “our father” thus
      pointing out that she is as racially important as Jesus.)

    6. Read John 4:13-14. Put yourself in the place of the
      Samaritan woman. What is going through your mind? What are
      your options in responding to Jesus? (The first option is
      to conclude that He is a lunatic. The second option is to
      believe that Jesus is someone special.)

    7. Read John 4:15. Which option has the woman chosen? (She
      certainly has not decided that Jesus is a lunatic. But,
      her response may either be a test of what Jesus is
      offering, or indicate that she believes Jesus. She may
      not understand Jesus, but she has crossed the line into
      believing He is someone special.)

    8. Read John 4:16-19. What has happened here? (She is now
      fully on board. When Jesus told her about her family
      situation, that convinced her that He was someone special,
      a prophet.)

    9. Read John 4:20. Is she looking for spiritual advice? (I
      think so. This is likely the first time she has
      encountered a prophet. She asks who is right – her people
      or the Jews about the proper place of worship?)

    10. Read John 4:21-24. Is this a politically correct response?
      Is Jesus insulting her? (She asks “Who is right about the
      place of worship?” Jesus responds, “Neither the Jews nor
      the Samaritans are right when it comes to the long view of
      things. However, salvation is from the Jews.”)

      1. What lesson should we learn from Jesus in sharing the
        gospel with hostile people? (Jesus does not shy away
        from telling the truth. However, He is not trying to
        insult her.)

    11. Read John 4:25-26. The Samaritan woman says that she
      understands the long view of worship. What new bombshell
      does Jesus drop? (He is the Messiah! Now this woman is
      facing another leap of faith.)

    12. Read John 4:27-30. Has the woman accepted Jesus as the
      Messiah? (She thinks it is a possibility. Imagine if you
      had been speaking to the Messiah!)

    13. Read John 4:39-42. Think back over Jesus’ conversation
      with the Samaritan woman. How does He change cross-cultural hostility into belief that He is the Messiah?

  2. The Centurion

    1. Read Matthew 8:5-6. What cross-cultural issues are present
      here? (A centurion would be a Roman, and the Romans
      dominated the Jewish nation.)

    2. Read Matthew 8:7-9. What does the centurion teach us about
      bridging cultural differences? (He dispenses with any
      claim of cultural superiority. He acknowledges that Jesus
      is the true authority.)

    3. Read Matthew 8:10-12. What does Jesus say about the
      superiority of His culture? (He says that faith is the
      important question, not culture.)

    4. Read Matthew 8:13. Consider how faith changed Jesus’ plan.
      Will our faith change God’s plan for us? (Jesus planned to
      “go and heal” ( Matthew 8:7), instead He spoke the servant
      back to health.)

  3. The Woman

    1. Read Matthew 15:21-23. Put yourself in this scene. Is this
      woman making life unpleasant for Jesus and the disciples?
      (Apparently, she keeps following them and crying out.)

      1. Why does Jesus not answer her? Does it seem
        sometimes that Jesus does not answer you?

    2. Read Matthew 15:24. Is this true? (We just read the
      stories of the Samaritan woman and the Roman centurion.)

      1. If it is not true, why does Jesus say it?

    3. Read Matthew 15:25-26. Put yourself in the place of the
      woman. How would you have reacted to Jesus calling your
      daughter a “dog” because of her race?

      1. What lesson are we being taught about cross-cultural

    4. Read Matthew 15:27-28. What is more important than culture
      and race? (Faith!)

      1. Should you take the same approach as Jesus took to
        this woman? (Jesus was testing her faith. I don’t
        think we are called to test faith by insulting

      2. In the United States we have people who like to talk
        about being “offended,” as if they have some right to
        keep others from saying or doing anything they
        considered to be “offensive.” What lesson does this
        mother teach us on the subject of being offended? (We
        need to keep focused on what is important, saving our
        children and keeping faith.)

  4. The Lepers

    1. Read Luke 17:11-13. We will learn later that one of the
      ten is a Samaritan. Why do the nine Jews associate with
      the Samaritan? (Read Leviticus 13:45-46. Because they have
      a far worse issue – they have leprosy and no one wants to
      be with them.)

    2. Read Luke 17:14. How were they healed? (They believed
      Jesus, headed to the priests for a certificate they were
      free of leprosy, and on their way they were healed. They
      acted on Jesus’ words.)

    3. Read Luke 17:15-16. Would you return and thank Jesus, or
      would you be telling your friends and family that you
      could now live with them and be a normal of part society?

    4. Read Luke 17:17-19. Notice that Jesus calls him a
      “foreigner.” Should we be blind to racial and cultural
      differences? (Jesus was annoyed that none of the Jews had
      returned to thank Him. He noted the racial/cultural

      1. Do you remember to thank God for what He has done for

      2. What do you think Jesus’ words “your faith has made
        you well” mean? (I think Jesus means that his spirit,
        not just his body are healed.)

    5. Friend, faith is more important than culture or race.
      Will you determine to put faith first in your dealings
      with others?

  5. Next week: Peter and the Gentiles.