As Jesus was traveling from Judea to Galilee, the Bible says he needed to pass through Samaria, John 4:4. While strict Jews would often take the longer route across the Jordan River to keep away from the ‘unclean’ Samaritans, Jesus chose to go through the heart of this area. The phrase ‘had to’ is from the Greek “DEI” meaning necessary and in John’s writings it points to a divine necessity (John 3:7,14, 30, 10:16, 12:34, 20:9). Perhaps the writer here is emphasizing the mission of Jesus to all people, whether we consider them worthy or not. The land of Samaria in the days of Jesus was an area plagued by three issues that we see in our day as well. The reason Jesus had to go through Samaria was not just a question of geography; it was an issue of Jesus’ purpose.
Jesus had to go through Samaria to correct societal problems. While the Jews had no dealings with Samaritans, Jesus came to break down the barriers that stood between people. Jesus came to make all people aware of the good news and to show compassion for them. The church today needs to be free from racial barriers (Ephesians 2:14) and social status barriers as well (James 2:1-9). We must constantly emphasis that all people stand equally at the foot of the cross (Galatians 3:28). The church must emphasize unity and fellowship and stand against those who seek to cause division.
Jesus had to go through Samaria to correct marital problems. At the well, Jesus found a lady who had been married five times and was living in adultery. Truly the grace of God is able to cover all sin. Jesus’ message of living water encouraged this woman to remember that she was loved and had meaning. Our churches today must reach out with the gospel to the single, the divorced, and the married. God loves every one of us, regardless of our past. There is always room for each of us to repent of our sins and to live righteously before God.
Jesus had to go through Samaria to correct spiritual problems. A disagreement over where and how to worship had progressed enough to divide peoples and nations. Jesus lovingly and firmly taught the lady the truth that “God is spirit” and needed to be worshipped in Spirit and in truth, John 4:24. Instead of remaining separate and talking about one another, Jesus went to the person and brought them to a better understanding. Our church must engage with the world and lovingly and firmly share the gospel of Christ.
Jesus traveled through Samaria. In the same way, Christians are called to leave their comfort zones and reach out to the lost, the lonely, and the searching. We have so much work to do!