Some time back, I came across a great Bible Study called She Hears. Written by Rachael Groll, the study looks at the interactions Jesus had with six different women in the Bible.
One of these was the Samaritan Woman at The Well, and Rachael goes through the story, as relayed in John chapter four. But she starts by outlining how Jesus left Judaea, and headed to Galilee by way of Samaria. Once there, the Lord stopped at Jacob’s Well, and had a conversation with the woman.
Prior to going through the study, I’d assumed Jesus passed through Samaria because it was the best route to take. However, Rachael explains the Jews actively avoided Samaria. In fact, the tensions were so high that if a Jew had to go from Judaea to Galilee, they’d cross the Jordan River and travel along the other side (see map below). The Jews felt like they’d become defiled simply by stepping foot in Samaria!
Yet, not only does Jesus go through Samaria, but John 4:4 says, “And he must needs go through Samaria.” It turns out this phrase comes from the root word dei, which means “it is necessary, or what must happen,” in terms of a directive from God. Now for the really good part… Guess where else the root word dei is used? In Matthew 16:21, when Jesus is telling His disciples He “must go” unto Jerusalem (and the cross).
In other words, Jesus loved the Samaritan woman so much that He “must needs go” to her, just as He “must go” to the cross. And the “her” in this case refers to a woman whom most would have avoided, and who was even then living in adultery. Yet, God intentionally went to where she was – going out of His way to do so.
It’s worth noting here that the conversation with the Samaritan woman is said to be the longest recorded conversation Jesus had with an individual. It’s also the one in which He first disclosed His identity as the Messiah!
Having studied all of this previously, I’d been hoping to visit Jacob’s Well, or at least Samaria, while we were in Israel. We weren’t able to, because tensions still run high in that area. However, my ears perked up one day on the tour, when I heard there were only 140 Samaritans alive today.
My research shows the number is actually closer to 800, but still yet, learning of the small number of survivors made the story even more meaningful to me. This meant that God purposely chose to first reveal Himself to a people who wouldn’t be known as powerful or influential. In fact, they would almost become extinct. Not to mention, they were a people who literally lived on the wrong side of the tracks.
Most of all, however, I continue to be amazed at how much Jesus cares about us – down to the very least – and the least-worthy – of us. And while He doesn’t condone our sin, He intentionally comes to us while we’re in that sin. Then, just like He did with the woman at the well, He sits with us. He doesn’t rush us. He stays with us, until we’re able to fully grasp and accept His love.
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