Jesus Loves Us
Updated: Jan 20, 2020
John 4:1-26 NIV
Now Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that he was gaining and baptizing more disciples than John – although in fact it was not Jesus who baptized, but his disciples. 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. (John 4:1-6)
Jesus was gaining more disciples, and the Pharisees had become aware of it. When Jesus learnt that, he withdrew from Judea and returned to Galilee. He was wary of the Pharisees’ enmity towards him, and it was not yet time for him to be arrested.
After the death of King Solomon, the kingdom of Israel was divided into the Northern and Southern Kingdoms, ruled by Jeroboam and Rehoboam respectively. To discourage his people from going to Jerusalem in the south to worship, Jeroboam set up altars at Dan and Bethel.
When the Assyrians conquered the Northern Kingdom of Israel in 721B.C., many of the Israelites were deported. Assyrians were also deliberately brought in, to dilute Israel’s identity through inter-marriages, producing the Samaritans. So though the Samaritans believed in the same God and the Pentateuch (a slightly different version from the Jews'), the Jews despised the Samaritans and considered ‘half breeds’. Thus the Jews refused to associate with them.
Samaria was located between Galilee and Judea, and the most direct route for travellers between Galilee and Judea would be to cut through Samaria. However most Jews would avoid it, preferring to take a longer journey that required an additional day or two. But as always, Jesus was different. He walked straight through Samaria.
John said that Jesus “had to go through Samaria.” He didn’t technically have to since there were other routes and no one forced him either. But his heart just “had to” do it. He felt compelled, not by circumstances, but by his heart to take this unusual route because he had to reach out to the Samaritan woman. I believe the Spirit revealed to him that there were people in Samaria whose heart would be open to him. In the end, not only did the Samaritan woman believe in him, she brought many other Samaritans, who believed in Jesus too (John 4:39-42).
It was literally a road less travelled and Jesus was tired from the journey. But Jesus would go anywhere for people whose hearts are open to him. He still does.
He will come to us, no matter where we are, if our hearts are open to him. We often think we’ve got to make the long and arduous journey to Christ. But on the contrary, Jesus is eager to make the journey to us. His love compels him and he just has to. All he requires are hearts that are open to him. The ball is in our court.
Jesus does not conform to norms and standards set by men. The Jews may have rejected the Samaritans, but Jesus did not. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) The “whoever” includes everyone – Jews, Samaritans and Gentiles.
Our behaviour is usually moulded by the environment and culture we grow up in. We are influenced by what our society set as norms. Jesus was such a disruptor of norms that it offended the establishment. But I am proud to know and follow Jesus. It is because of his “had to” attitude that we are saved.
What compels us to love others? We need not look further for inspiration because we have Jesus. He just “had to” die for us because he loves us.
Andy is the head of compliance for an international bank and is happily married, with three daughters. He became a disciple of Christ three decades ago, and studies God's Word passionately. He desires to be constantly led by the Spirit. Andy joined the Central Christian Church in 1990.