I sometimes wonder what the disciples were thinking when they said yes to following Jesus. Today we have the New Testament to let us know what we are getting ourselves into, but they did not have that. What did they have to go on? Jesus was already presenting differently than the Jews expected Messiah to come. He was born of parents who were not of a priestly tribe, raised in Galilee, and was essentially homeless. There were no fact-checkers and no blue check to verify His social identity. Without the knowledge of the gospel that you have today, would you follow this man? Yet the disciples did, and He took them through many life-changing experiences.
One of the most critical detours Jesus called His disciples to make on their journey was through Samaria to have a conversation with an unsuspecting woman at a well.
In John 4 we read about Jesus making a trip from the Judean countryside back to His hometown of Galilee. The most direct way to make the trip was to go through Samaria, but there was an issue. Jews and Samaritans did not get along. The tension between the two was so bad that if a Jew came into contact with a Samaritan, they would have to go to the temple to cleanse themselves before they were permitted to reenter society.
Jews making the journey from Judea to Galilee would travel seventy miles out of the way just to avoid Samaria. This had become their way of life; there was no questioning it, and there was no room for negotiation. Jews and Samaritans did not mix. Jesus was setting them up to go into the part of town where they were not welcome and where the negative feeling was mutual. A hard line had been drawn, a division that dated back for many years, and there was no hope for reconciliation. They just decided to be apart and stay apart.
We Need to Go Through Samaria Too
But Jesus told His disciples, a group of Jewish men, that they needed to go through Samaria this time. I love how the Bible doesn’t mention any resistance from the disciples, which makes me wonder what they thought about this: What do You mean we have to go through Samaria? Because we actually don’t have to go through Samaria. No one, no Jew, goes through Samaria, so why do we have to?
This was not an optional invitation for them, and it isn’t for us either. Jesus was about to carry His love outside the lines and go to Samaria to have a life-altering conversation with a woman who needed it. As followers of Christ we are to do the same.
The Messiah did not come for just a select few; He did not come just for people who looked like Him, grew up like Him, or spoke His language. Jesus came for all, and the disciples had a front-row seat to that.
This earth is not our home; we are on a journey to our heavenly residence, and there are some stops we must make along the way. There is no going around it — we need to go through it. If we are called, if we are truly living out the Great Commission to make disciples of all nations, then that means we must go where all people are and not just some people.
What’s your Samaria?