2 Kings 19-21 John 4:1-30
“But on the way he had to go through the country of Samaria.” (John 4:4 NCV)
The disciples were baptizing a lot of people. The Pharisees had heard about this and Jesus, because it wasn’t the right time, decided to leave the Jerusalem area and head back to Galilee. It’s perhaps a throwaway verse to many, but John mentions that Jesus had to go through the country of Samaria. That’s a jarring statement. No good, self-respecting Jew would travel through Samaria. Jews would take an extra day or two to journey north (or south) by crossing the Jordan River to travel to the east of Samaria. Just breathing Samaritan air could taint a good Jew for life. (Ok, I threw that last sentence in there as an exaggeration to show how much the Jews hated Samaritans.) So why would John say that Jesus “had to go through … Samaria?” I think he said it because that was Jesus’s explanation for not walking around the country. “Hey, Jesus, why we walking into Samaria?” “Because we have to.”
My dad’s non-explanation explanation for actions like that was “I’ve gotta see a man about a dog.” Jesus could have said, “I’ve gotta see a woman about some water.” The result of this trip was a most amazing conversation between Jesus and a Samaritan woman. Let’s be honest about this encounter. It’s a great theological conversation that would never happen with most Christians today. Most of us wouldn’t be seen with a woman like her. She was an outcast among the Samaritans. She couldn’t get water with the rest of the women, early in the morning, because “good” people didn’t want to be around her. She had to come during the heat of the day to get water and move the stone covering the well by herself. She herself noted the absurdity of a Jewish man asking a Samaritan woman for anything. The shocking part of that conversation is that Jesus makes it clear that He’s the Messiah and gives the impression that He was offering her hope of salvation in spite of her sinfulness. She got so excited, she ran back to town, leaving her water jug at the well, to tell the very people who ostracized her about the Messiah. What’s that say to those of us who claim to follow Jesus? First of all, we need to see people as God sees them. Jesus looked at this woman who’d failed at marriage so many times that she’d apparently given up on it and now just found a way to get her physical needs met as a person who needed to know God’s love. We need to see people as God sees them, not as the sum or their sins. Second, when she realized who Jesus was, she told everyone, even the people who’d wronged her. We need to be more diligent in telling others about Jesus. We need to be ready to share the gospel, and eternity, not only with our friends but also with those who have hurt us the worst. Third, we need to be ready to follow the Spirit’s leadership and do things we wouldn’t likely do in order to share the gospel. After all, it is all about the gospel.
Lord, remind me that I need to be ready to go wherever You send me and share Your love and grace as I travel the road of life. Give me a willing heart to follow You through any situation.
Scripture taken from the New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.