Sunday, July 06, 2008

John 4:1-6

When Jesus knew that the Pharisees were aware of His increasing popularity, He withdrew to a less busy district, back to His home area up north in Galilee. Perhaps He knew that it was not time yet, or perhaps He has other reasons not to attract attention, or pull away from John's ministry. Whatever the case, the next statement seems somewhat of a shock for some.

"But He needed to go through Samaria".

This has been interpreted as Jesus purposefully desiring to go to Samaria and minister there to the discriminated people. But reading the text, this interpretation may not be a necessity, although certainly possible. Alternatively, Jesus could have "needed" to go through Samaria because of what was happening in Jerusalem. If He were becoming more popular, and He desired to limit this for the moment, then perhaps a good idea would be to take the road less traveled. What can we learn? Perhaps nothing more than that whatever road we walk on, it may lead to something really important...and it may not involve doing anything special but just to walk it with the knowledge of that possibility. In other words, cherish each path.

Samaria. A place filled with people that the Jews regarded as half-breeds. Israelite offspring of ancestors who inter-married. A complex history of external influence and collaboration with Gentiles. In society, there are many example of this. Interesting how even now, although we seek to eradicate such discrimination, it still exists in our heart of hearts, if we are honest with ourselves. Why? Because we are innately not used to accepting people who are different from us. Most of us anyway. And especially so when their beliefs are different. Samaritans, although they believed in God, we are not told the completeness of their concept and faith here. All we know is that they have a different religious center that was not Jerusalem. Therefore they did not treat the Temple as the center, unlike under the Mosaic and Solomonic customs. Did they worship a different God? They acknowledge Jacob/Israel as their fore-father. Did they have different practices in worship and lifestyle? Most probably.

All these question are resolved through one solitary act. Jesus did not care about all that. He wanted to be among them. And He wanted them to be welcomed in. They were white unto harvest.

"Jesus ... sat thus by the well".

Did he know the woman would come? Why didn't He get the water Himself? Or help others?

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