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Lent 2011

Why Did Jesus Have to Go to Samaria?

Day 18

By Serna Samuel, Regional Missionary

Now when Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard, "Jesus is making and baptizing more disciples than John"— although it was not Jesus himself but his disciples who baptized—he left Judea and started back to Galilee. But he had to go through Samaria. So he came to a Samaritan city called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired out by his journey, was sitting by the well. It was about noon.

—John 4:1-6

The reason for Jesus going to Samaria is best summed up in the words of the Apostle Paul in Galatians 3:28: "There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ."

Jesus departed from Judea to Galilee with a determined and fixed mind to enter Samaria. The Jews avoid going to Samaria because they consider any contact with Samaritans as contamination because of the deep-seated division that existed between them (see 2 Kings, chapter 17). The Samaritans in blood and religion should be avoided because they were lesser humans, so as they travel between Galilee and Judea they take the long route to avoid going through Samaria. Jesus took the shortest route. For Jesus there was no other way; he directed his path into the region of Samaria and entered the city of Sychar. John 4:4 tells us that he "had to go through Samaria." As he entered the town he made a statement.

Jesus went through Samaria with a determined and resolute mind to break down barriers of hatred and cultural, ethnic, racial and conventional prejudice to replace these by building bridges of forgiveness, reconciliation, peace, love and hope.

Why did Jesus have a strong and deep compulsion to go to Samaria? The conventional method was to bypass Samaria, having ministered effectively in Judea, but Jesus must confront and combat the religious, social and cultural barriers, the discrimination and enmity that existed between the Jews and the Samaritans. He chose to leave his comfort zone to minister to his "enemies." It was necessary for Jesus to go through Samaria because there was a perceived immoral, hopeless outcast Samaritan woman to whom he needed to extend God’s grace. He goes beyond the social circle to extend God’s grace to her.

Charles Wesley in hymn "What Shall I Do, My God to Love?" pens these words about God’s grace: "Thy sovereign grace to all extends, immense and unconfined; from age to age it never ends; it reaches all mankind." Jesus offered this woman not ordinary water but living water, which is salvation, the new birth, and so she ran to invite her villagers to "come and see a man who told me all I have ever done." Jesus went through Samaria with a determined and resolute mind to break down barriers of hatred and cultural, ethnic, racial and conventional prejudice to replace these by building bridges of forgiveness, reconciliation, peace, love and hope. He had to leave his comfort zone to shatter the stereotypes of "us" and "them" and minister and show love to his enemies because of God’s unconditional love that compelled and propelled him to do so.

In my regional missionary work, I have to go through Samaria to minister to women, children and youth who are infected and afflicted with HIV/AIDS, who are rejected, thrown out from the family house because they are HIV positive and have brought shame and disgrace on the family. The community looks at them with scorn and dismay. They experienced the pain and trauma of separation, betrayal, loneliness, aloneness, rejection, alienation, discrimination, stigmatization, and loss of dignity, self-esteem and security. I am compelled to show and share God’s unconditional love, assure them of God’s forgiveness and God’s sovereign grace and to be resourceful in catering to their daily needs, routing them to God’s "living water."

In Haiti the women I exercise ministry with experienced untold pain and trauma from the earthquake of 2010. They have lost children, husbands, relatives and friends and are still waiting for the remains of loved ones to put to rest and receive closure. One sister shared her Samaria experience. She witnessed her two sons die and could not do anything to assist them. As I journeyed, prayed and created opportunity for the women to share their Samaria’s experiences, I heard voices of hope, resilience and deep profound faith in the risen Christ.

What about you my sisters? Are you prepared to go to Samaria to make a difference in lives of women, youth and children? If the world is going to be a better place, Jesus calls us to confront our "Samaria," to go to the undesirables and the untouchables, the unloved and those who are called the scum of society. They represent undiscerned harvest opportunities. We are to share God’s grace, love and word and to be instruments of advocacy, transformation, dignity, security, healing, hope, faith and love in action.

Prayer

Living and ever-present God, each moment you call us to unconventional mission and ministry. Help us eternal Father to hear you call and to answer, "Here I am Lord, send me," and to step out to Samaria. Amen.

Last Updated: 04/16/2014
 
 

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