Jesus never did anything by accident. As Robert Coleman wrote years ago, “His life was ordered by his objective. Everything he did and said was a part of the whole pattern. It had significance because it contributed to the ultimate purpose of His life in redeeming the world for God…. Mark it well. Not for one moment did Jesus lose sight of His goal.”
It’s that reality that makes these words in John 4 so significant:
“So he left Judea and went back once more to Galilee. Now he had to go through Samaria. So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon. When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, ‘Will you give me a drink?’” (John 4:3-7)
To fully grasp the significance of these words you need to know that in Jesus’ day the devout Jews avoided going through Samaria. They took a much longer route from Jerusalem to Galilee that went through Perea. They went out of their way to avoid the Samaritans. It was like going to Baton Rouge by way of Alexandria.
But John tells us that Jesus HAD to go through Samaria. He made a purposeful choice to go through Samaria because he had a divine appointment with a Samaritan woman at a water well.
Prejudice is nothing new in history. Prejudice is not a unique commodity in the United States. Humanity has a long history of prejudice of all sorts. In Jesus’ day, two of the groups that were marginalized and looked down on were the Samaritans (because they were racially mixed) and women (because they were considered less than men). To top it off, the woman Jesus met at the well had lived a somewhat questionable life with multiple husbands and currently living with a man that was not her husband.
But Jesus HAD to go through Samaria. He HAD to meet this woman at the well. Jesus HAD to do these things because he HAD to make a statement to all of his followers throughout history that prejudice and injustice have no place in the life of a Christ follower. As we follow Jesus, we need to be prepared to leave the comfortable path of our culture and cross the lines that divide us. We must be willing to name evil, evil and call injustice, injustice. We must lead the way in ‘loving one another’, especially when the other is different from us.
Once again, this week we see that we have a lot of work to do in order to stamp out prejudice in our country. Once again, Jesus calls me and you to step up and speak up for those who cannot. Once again, Jesus calls us to rise up as the voice of reconciliation and hope.
Jesus had to go through Samaria to reach a woman who was marginalized. Where do you need to go? Who do you need to reach out to in love? What line do you need to cross to connect with someone different from you? Where do you need to stand up for someone else? How can you be part of Jesus’ plan for creating unity where there is division? How can you demonstrate love where there is hate?
Today is the day.