Then cometh he to a city of Samaria. Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well… There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water. Jesus saith unto her: “Give me to drink.”
Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him: “How is it that Thou, being a Jew, asketh drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? For the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.”
Jesus answered and said unto her: “If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith unto thee, ‘give me to drink,’ thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.”
The woman said unto Jesus: “Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw.” Jesus said unto her: “Go call thy husband, and come hither.”
The woman answered and said: “I have no husband.” Jesus said unto her: “Thou hast well said: ‘I have no husband,’ for thou hast had five husbands, and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband; in that saith thou truly.”
The woman said unto him: ‘Sir, I perceive that Thou art a prophet.” [John 4:5—24]
A disciple from the past
Jesus went to Samaria and sat on Jacob’s well and knowingly asked the low-caste woman of Samaria to give him a drink. The woman of Samaria was a morally lost disciple of a past incarnation whom Jesus came to redeem.
Jesus hinted of his identity to the woman of Samaria when he said, “If Thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith unto thee.” By this Jesus meant that God had gifted her in previous incarnations with the greatest of all gifts, a divine guru, who had followed her to this life to redeem her.
Jesus was trying to awaken in his fallen disciple the dormant memory of the past. Jesus was also saying that if the Samaritan woman knew that it was her guru of the past who was asking for the drink, she would seek from him the living water of God-contact.
A test of truthfulness
Jesus wanted to test the character of his fallen disciple, the woman of Samaria, to determine the degree of her degradation. So he asked her to call her husband. When Jesus heard her say that she had no husband, he was pleased. Her truthfulness in admitting that she had no husband, though she was living with a man and had had five husbands, showed that her degradation was temporary and lay like a clay-crust over the hidden glow of her pure truth-loving soul.
Insincerity, prevarication, and treachery toward one’s guru are the greatest sins, for these are deliberate transgressions and, as such, are greater evils than flesh transgressions, which are to a considerable extent due to instinctive compulsion. No matter how sinful a disciple is, he can be saved if he is sincere and loyal to the guru, but woe unto the disciple who is insincere to the master.
Because the woman of Samaria answered truthfully, Jesus displayed his omniscience by saying “Thou hast had five husbands.” A master very seldom attracts a soul by any miracle other than the expression of divine love, but because of her honesty, the woman of Samaria was allowed to witness Jesus’ power of omniscience. Out of compassion, Jesus let her know that what she had told him was in safe hands.
The first messenger of Christ
Jesus had one purpose in declaring himself as Christ to the woman of Samaria: he wanted her to know that he knew of her morally sick soul, and that he could heal her. Jesus saw her alone because he did not want to embarrass her before his disciples by telling her that she had had five husbands.
The people in the time of Jesus differentiated between the high-caste Jews and the low-caste Samaritans. Jesus’ disciples marveled that Jesus had talked to such a common woman, but Jesus knew no artificial race or caste barrier, and therefore asked her for a drink.
The woman of Samaria was so overwhelmed by the power of Jesus that in her divine joy, she told all of her moral blemishes and of the wonderful healing she had received. Being healed, she became the first messenger to declare Jesus the Christ. God wanted to declare the glory of Jesus through the moral and spiritual healing of the woman of Samaria.
Excerpted from The Second Coming of Christ: East-West, February 1924; Inner Culture, April 1934; East-West, March 1934.
The Twelve Disciples of Jesus
by Paramhansa Yogananda
Jesus’ selection of twelve from among his disciples has a significant meaning. Two kinds of people seek training from a God-conscious master. There are those who come for general training who are called students. There are also those students, married and unmarried, who dedicate their entire lives to God-realization and are chosen to propagate the master’s teaching directly or through their example. The latter are called disciples, apostles, or chelas. Masters implant in their disciples the seed of their spiritual vitality, so that the disciples can perpetuate the master’s spiritual energy.
Jesus, like all great prophets, reincarnated at the same time as his great disciples of past lives. Unlike Jesus, these disciples had not attained the final state of emancipation and Jesus wanted to make them perfect. After helping his close disciples reach the final state, Jesus wanted them to be apostles—pioneers who would propagate the message of Christhood to the masses. According to the divine plan, Jesus had to have twelve disciples to carry his message to the world.