“Now he [Jesus] had to go through Samaria,” (John 4:4 NIV).
I have to tell you, the story of Jesus talking to the Samaritan woman at the well is one of the most exciting passages in the Bible for me. It is filled with hope for all women who feel abused, misused, and forgotten. It is for all women who have tried everything and everyone to fill the void in their hearts, but still hear the echo of emptiness ringing in their hollow souls.
I want you to go back and read the story of the Samaritan five-time divorcee and her encounter with Jesus at the well. It is found in John 4:1-26,39-42. Go ahead…I’ll wait….
Now that you’re back, let’s chat about it. I hope you felt the length and the depth of the words of this story. You see, this is the longest recorded conversation between Jesus and any one single person in the entire New Testament…and it was with a woman.
The shortest route from Judea to Galilee lay on a high road straight through Samarian territory, but the Jews routinely crossed the Jordan River and took the long way around to avoid going through the towns of the despised Samaritans. Jews avoided Samaritans like the plague…literally. Like a quarantined hospital room, the Jews kept their distance.
So it wasn’t because of geography that Jesus “had to go through Samaria.” Oh no. He had to go through Samaria because His Father told him to. As Jesus reminded the disciples many times, he only did what his Father told him to do (John 5:30; 6:38; 8:26; 9:4; 10:37-38; 12:49-50).
Jesus had to go to Samaria because of divine destiny. Another translation states, “Jesus had a need to go to Samaria” (KJV). He was there on special assignment. It was not a coincidence or causal meeting, but a “deliberate, intentional, and calculated decision on the part of the Savior of the world to go meet with her.” You see, there was a woman in Samaria who had been used and abused all her life. And now, God reached down from His throne and chose her for such a time as this. While she felt that she was damaged goods, fit for no one, God chose her as His special spokesperson for an entire town. And He sent His own Son to commission her for ministry.
So Jesus “had” to go, not because of geography, but because of what His Dad wrote in His celestial day-timer. And while the disciples went shopping for groceries, Jesus waited patiently for his assignment to arrive.
While most women went to the well to draw water for their daily use in the cool of the morning or late in the evening, this woman went at high noon. The scorching sun of high noon was a small price to pay in order to avoid being snubbed by the other women in the town. She preferred the heat of the sun to the cold shoulders of the women. So while the women gathered for girlfriend time at the well early in the morning, this particular woman waited until they had returned to their safe havens in order to find safety of her own.
When Jesus asked her for a drink, he didn’t demand it of her. He never does. He simply asks. But the fact that he even asked was radical. Men did not talk to women in public in this culture. Jewish men didn’t talk to Samaritan women at all. And for a Jew to drink from a Samaritan’s cup was unheard of. Jews considered Samaritans unclean, and to drink from a Samaritan’s cup would in turn make them unclean. Jesus wasn’t concerned in the slightest, for it is only by drinking from his cup that any of us could ever be clean to begin with.
Jesus spoke to her directly and respectfully. This was no doubt radically different from any other Jewish man she had come in contact with. Don’t for one minute think that her nationality and gender were happenstance. They were both intentionally chosen by our very intentional God – just another example that God’s plan to set the captives free was for all who would believe. And He crossed gender, racial, and religious boundaries to do just that.
Dear Heavenly Father. Thank You that Jesus “had” to go to Samaria to set a woman free. Thank You that Jesus “had to” come to a simple woman like me to set me free as well. Thank You for writing my name in Jesus’ celestial day-timer…that He reached down and saved me, redeemed me, and now uses me to share His message of redemption. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Now It’s Your Turn
Have you ever felt like the Samaritan woman at the well? Like no one wanted to be around you?
Just think about how risky it was for Jesus to have this conversation with her.
What do you think would have happened if the disciples had been there?
Check out the story again and notice when the disciples showed up. (John 4:25-30)
What does that tell you about God’s timing?
When did God write your name in Jesus’ day-timer? What was the date he set you free? If you remember the date when you accepted Christ as your Savior, share your spiritual-birth-date in the comment box. Let’s celebrate!
Today’s blog post was taken from my book, What God Really Thinks about Women: Finding Your Significance through the Women Jesus Encountered. Read this book and you’ll fall in love with Jesus all over again.