“Now he had to go through Samaria.”
John 4:4 (NIV)
In the time of Jesus there was a powerful ethnic issue between the Samaritans and the Jews. The Samaritans held to the first part of the Jewish Bible and were close to the Jews in some detail but both groups despised the other.
One Passover when Jesus was a child, some Samaritans disguised themselves as Jews and stole into Jerusalem and into the temple. They had a bag of human bones which they then tossed into the Holiest place in the temple. This sacrilege of the temple at such a holy time of the year horrified the faithful Jews in Jerusalem and abroad and served to intensify the hatred between the two groups.
Samaria was the country between Judaea on the south and Galilee to the north. It lay west of the river Jordan. For kosher Jews of Jesus’ time they would never enter Samaria to get from Judaea to Galilee or back. They would always go east across Jordan, turn north or south, depending on which province they were seeking, and travel to either Galilee or Judaea and go back over the Jordan and arrive at their destination.
So, when we read in John 4 of Jesus having to go through Samaria it was not the case from one point of view. There certainly were other ways to get where He was going. So we look for another reason rather than geography that forced Jesus to go through the land good Jews of His day hated.
Jesus’ reason for travelling through Samaria was in order to meet up with the woman at Jacob’s well. He had decided that He wished to reach into the area of Samaria and encounter this woman who was such a notorious sinner. It was His desire to have her turn her life around through meeting with Him. This was why He must go through Samaria.
For Jesus, a good Jew, to plan to meet with such a sinful woman, was a powerful illustration of what He came to do with all of His people. Jesus showed interest in every level of society in His day. None were beneath Him during His time on earth. None are beneath Him today as He searches out a people for Himself.
You may be among the rich and powerful, or you may be among the poorest and least known in the world. It does not matter to Jesus. He must have your time so that He can urge you to turn to Him and receive the abundant life He freely offers to all of us.
We have regard for social status and we can play favourites with the rich and famous if we choose. Jesus never does. Jesus treats us all the same. Everyone should believe that Jesus has a genuine interest in them without regard for their wealth or achievements in life. It seems that only the people who are full of themselves are those who do not have room for Jesus. The poor lady in John 4 knew very well she needed much more than she had in life. Jesus came to her to tell her she needed Him in her life.
I urge you to come to Jesus regardless of who you are or what you may lack in life. He seeks individuals from all classes to be His people. It is never an issue of what you may offer Him, rather it is what He offers you.