“So he left Judea and returned to Galilee. He had to go through Samaria on the way.” – John 4:3-4.
This is a powerful verse that many people read through without giving it much thought. Jesus left Judea and departed again for Galilee. This direct route from Judea to Galilee was about 70 miles or two and a half day’s walk. But many of the Jews chose not to go through Samaria. They traveled the hot desert road from Jerusalem to Jericho, and up the Jordan valley. Remember from the story of the Good Samaritan that in Jesus’ day, Jews and Samaritans didn’t get along. In fact, they viewed each other as enemies. A Jew would prefer to take the long way and avoid the Samaritans entirely. Thus, because of the enmity that the Israelites had for the Samaritan people, they journeyed almost twice the distance on a much hotter and more uncomfortable road. But not Jesus. Jesus went through Samaria.
During the journey, Jesus became weary. He had been walking in the hot sun all day. He was thirsty, so he sat beside the well to rest while the disciples went into the city to find something to eat. A Samaritan woman went to the well for water. So, as he always did in such a wonderful way, Jesus seizes what was right at hand. Here was a thirsty woman coming to draw water, and he said to her these remarkable words, “If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.” (John 4:10) Her response was filled with surprise as she questioned why Jesus would break social norms by talking with her. As the story continues, it becomes obvious that she finally came face-to-face with the One who could give her value, worth, satisfaction, fulfillment, joy, and eternal life.
After this life-changing moment, the woman left her water jar and returned to town to tell the people of this man named Jesus. Due to this woman’s testimony, the town people came to see Jesus, and many believed in Him. It shows that although Jesus wasn’t forced to do so, he “had to go through Samaria.” Jesus, in his close relationship with his Father, knew he had a job to do. He had to go outside of the expected cultural and traditional norms to offer grace and eternal life to a Samaritan woman, who then shared the good news with her entire town (see John 4:27-32).
When the disciples returned they urged Jesus to eat something. Jesus responds, “My nourishment comes from doing the will of God, who sent me, and from finishing his work.” (John 4:34) Throughout the Gospel of John, Jesus speaks repeatedly about being sent by the Father to do His Father’s will and work; to accomplish His mission. At the end of the day our mission follows from Jesus’ mission and the mission of God even when we have to go through Samaria on the way.
- Is it possible to have a life on mission? Why or why not?
- As we live our life, what lessons can we learn from Jesus and His encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well this week?