A Bible study through John 1-6
“Now when Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John (although Jesus himself did not baptize, but only his disciples), he left Judea and departed again for Galilee. And he had to pass through Samaria. So he came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the field that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there; so Jesus, wearied as he was from his journey, was sitting beside the well. It was about the sixth hour.”
In the heat of the day along a less traveled dirt road, the Son of God had a divine appointment with the most unlikely of people. However, that’s often the way God works, arranging meetings at times and in places that are most uncommon and with the most unexpected people. We must be open and available to take the road less traveled and see the people the world overlooks, because in these opportunities God often has great things in store.
Shortly after His trip to Jerusalem and following His purging of the temple for the lack of reverence and honor of God’s house, Jesus took an unexpected route home. Instead of traveling around the region of Samaria as was customary for good Jews, Jesus went straight up and into the heart of the area that most of His countrymen despised.
Before I can fully flesh out this point, let’s look at some context for those who may be unaware of the rift between the Jews and Samaritans. The prejudice among the Jews against the Samarians was based on two things: religion and ethnicity. Jews correctly followed the tradition of their forefathers and kept the Law of Moses and worshiped God in Jerusalem where His temple was originally built. Meanwhile, the Samaritans had deviated from the commands God gave Moses and believed that the worship of God should take place in their own region.
This religious divide was exasperated since the Jews held that they were God’s special and chosen people and, for the most part, strictly adhered to God’s command not to intermarry among the nations. However, the Samaritans were originally Jews that had intermarried and intermingled with different nations during the Babylonian exile hundreds of years before the life of Christ. So by the time A.D. came around, the tension between Jews and Samaritans was massive and mutually held. Jews viewed Samaritans as less than themselves and considered them unclean and defiling. Therefore, they made every effort to avoid the area of Samaria and have nothing to do with the people.
And it was into this cultural situation that Jesus walked straight into the heart of Samaria. He took the route considered unacceptable and not only walked through the region, but took time to stop and have a conversation. And it wasn’t a conversation with a respected Samaritan man that might have garnered fewer judgmental stares from self-righteous Jews. No, it was with a woman--a broken, sinful woman that people from all cultures and eras would have raised questionable eyebrows at and considered unacceptable company for any decent person.
However, Jesus saw the situation completely differently. He actually traveled to the most unlikely place at the most unlikely time for this very reason: to have a conversation with the woman at the well. He knew her past, knew her schedule, and knew that God had arranged this meeting with her before the beginning of time. So Jesus obeyed the Father and disregarded the opinions and expectations of His countrymen and marched straight to a well in the center of Samaria to talk with a woman with a broken past.
Are we willing to abandon the cultural expectations in order to make the divine appointments God sets before us? Are we willing to disregard what people may think or how they might perceive a situation in order to follow God’s leading? Would we be willing to break the mold and walk straight into what could be a dicey situation in order to reach the one person God had on His mind?
As we begin to study the story and testimony of the woman at the well, I believe the first lesson we can learn is to always be open to the unexpected and never let people’s opinions keep us from following the direction God gives us. Jesus didn’t allow culture, time of day, or location keep Him from reaching out and taking time to converse with the woman at the well. He intentionally positioned Himself at the right time and place to be able to show this woman that she was loved and that hope, life, and meaning that could be hers. He saw this woman as God saw her and was willing to cross cultural boundaries to bring her a message that transformed her life.
Are we willing to do the same?
It will require stepping outside our comfort zones, feeling uncomfortable, and breaking cultural norms. But as we follow our Lord’s example and reach out to people as He did, we will see barriers comes down and new life spring forth as God uses unconditional love to touch the lives of broken and hurting people. Therefore, let’s resolve to be open to the midday meetings God may have for us in unlikely places and with unexpected people. And may we always see people as our Father does and be ready and willing to reach out in love and compassion to the most broken and hurting among us no matter what others may think.
Let’s go into the heart of our own personal Samaria and have a conversation with the most unlikely person about the life and hope available through Jesus Christ