Bible Reading: John 4:1-25
Jesus was covering a large area. He was at wedding in Cana of Galilee [John 2:1], then Jerusalem for the Passover [2:13], and then in the countryside of Judea near to Jerusalem [John 3:22]. After this He headed back to Galilee [John 4:3,43], but on the way to Galilee went to Samaria [John 4:4].
Jesus went to Samaria with a specific person in mind. Over the next few days we will look at the beautiful story of how Jesus met with, and ministered to, a needy Samaritan woman. It is a remarkable lesson in loving people and dealing with them wisely.
The passion of Jesus to share the good news of the Kingdom [John 4:4] motivated Him to deliberately go into Samaria. No strict Jew would ever have dealings with Samaritans [see John 4:9]. Following the death of Solomon there was a rebellion and Israel was divided into two nations [2 King chapters 12 & 13]. The capital of the Northern kingdom was Samaria. In 722 BC the king of Assyria brought foreign people into Samaria [Kings 17:24-31]. The local people inter-married with the gentiles and assimilated a non-Jewish culture. The Samaritans had their own scriptures and their own temple at Mount Gerizim. The animosity between Jews and Samaritans had existed for nearly a thousand years when Jesus went to Samaria. Strict Jews would actually take the longer route from Jerusalem to Galilee by crossing the River Jordan rather than travel through Samaria.
Jesus not only defied strict Jewish convention but also racial and social barriers in order to meet with this Samaritan woman. People were always more important to Jesus than rules and regulations and individuals more important than crowds. Consider three of the social rules that Jesus broke. Firstly, men did not speak to women without their husbands being present. Secondly, Jesus was a Jew speaking to a Samaritan, and thirdly, Jesus was speaking with a woman from a morally questionable background.
In His memoirs, Robert Murray McCheyne wrote the story of two Moravian missionaries who worked in a leper colony in Africa. They were burdened to bring the gospel to the lepers who were regarded as untouchable. The colony had only one entrance, and anyone entering the colony would never be allowed to leave. For a time these missionaries were unable to communicate easily with the lepers. Only when the missionaries themselves contracted the disease did the lepers want to hear the good news that they had to share. What is perhaps even more remarkable is that when these two brave men died others from the Moravian community were prepared to take their place.
What do we learn from this story about the necessity to die to self in order to bring the gospel to someone in need?
Are there cultural issues that make it difficult to share the Gospel with certain people in the society in which you live? What are barriers that need to be broken down, and how could you go about doing that?