The Need To Go Through Samaria
“(1) When therefore the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John (2) although Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples, (3) he left Judea, and departed again into Galilee. (4) And he must needs pass through Samaria”. (John 4:1-4)
This verse has always intrigued me. Of course, we are dealing with God walking in the flesh here and He certainly knows the outcome of tomorrow and we do not. Jesus HAD to go through Samaria because He had work to do there with one specific woman who would, in turn, effect a change in many in her country. I just want to make it clear that you and I cannot do things the way He did them. We cannot know what the situation would be if we went to a certain place… but He could. It is clear in this chapter that His disciples had no clue why they were there and, as a matter of fact, found themselves very nervous and a little itchy about being there.
Now, for Jesus to leave Judea and head to Galilee, He would have headed east and followed the established path along the Jordan River, which takes you straight to the Sea of Galilee. However, Jesus chooses not to take the established route to Galilee, but instead, He took the westward route that all of the other Jews avoided and went through Samaria. The Jews considered the Samaritans “Gentile Dogs.” Most Jews feared for their lives, or at least their well being, if they were to go through that country. They avoided it like the plague. As far as they were concerned, they were in the “ghetto.” But, my Jesus had business there and it was business of the greatest kind. It was here that He would encounter the woman at Jacob’s Well and change her life forever.
Now, I want to ask you something that I’ve had to deal with a few times and I just wonder if you have ever thought about it. Have you ever found yourself taking a route to somewhere and at the same time asking yourself, “Why on earth did I come this way”? Is it possible that God is, in some subtle way, moving you into some “uncharted and undeclared” territory for some specific reason? The disciples who were with Jesus were concerned with getting something to eat and getting out of Dodge. When we find ourselves somewhere we did not intend to go, we most often do the same. I wonder if there just might be some woman coming to a well in that spot whom God arranged to meet up with one of us? Boy, that is a sobering thought, isn’t it?
What are we usually doing when we find ourselves there? Are we looking for the well and the woman or are we wanting to hurry and get out of there and back to our respective route?
Until now, I have never even thought of the opportunity that God might be placing in our path. I do know that God has led people down different paths before in order to bring a message of hope to a nation. He certainly did it with Philip in Acts chapter eight! But it is difficult for us to conceive that God might change a nation of people through us. At best, we have a one on one idea of sharing the message. But, as it was with the woman at the well and with the Ethiopian eunuch, that one on one encounter affected nations. Is it at all possible, with the power of Almighty God at the helm, that you and I could possibly have that kind of effect on the world by simply doing what He gifted us to do on a strange path?
This is certainly a sobering thought. I do not think I will ever be able again to take a “wrong turn” without thinking about it. It just becomes evident that “wrong turns” to us might just be the “exact path” God chooses for us to take. We would rather God just say to us, “Garry, turn right up here instead of left because there is a man three blocks down on the right, wearing a black hat and a white tee shirt who I want you to see”. We like it spelled out. God has done that, but most often, He gives us opportunity, but He wants us to operate from the heart, not some list. The disciples with Jesus in Samaria did not see this trip on their list and therefore, they never saw the opportunity He saw. All they knew was that they were in the wrong place at the wrong time and they wanted to get on down the road to Galilee.
I wonder who we are most like here? It scares me a bit!