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Samaria: He had to go through...

John  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  42:35
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Intro today we will begin looking at John chapter 4. Here we find the famous account of Jesus meeting the woman at the well.
Let’s read it together.
John 4:1–42 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. When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?” Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.” He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.” “I have no husband,” she replied. Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.” “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.” “Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.” Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.” Just then his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman. But no one asked, “What do you want?” or “Why are you talking with her?” Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” They came out of the town and made their way toward him. Meanwhile his disciples urged him, “Rabbi, eat something.” But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.” Then his disciples said to each other, “Could someone have brought him food?” “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. Don’t you have a saying, ‘It’s still four months until harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. Even now the one who reaps draws a wage and harvests a crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. Thus the saying ‘One sows and another reaps’ is true. I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.” Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. And because of his words many more became believers. They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.”
I love this account of Jesus’ interaction with the woman at the well. In this account we can see both Jesus’ humanity, and his deity. We can see how he draws people to himself. We see… Well, we will get to all of that.
For today, I want to start by digging in to verse 4.
John 4:4 NIV
Now he had to go through Samaria.
Why does the Spirit have John write it this way? What was Samaria? Why did he have to go through Samaria?
Samaria was the territory between Judea in the south, and Galilee in the North.
But what was Samaria, and why do we read of Samaria as a place Jews typically avoided, and the people of Samaria as ‘enemies’ of Israel?
Background:
After David, Solomon was king. After Solomon, the kingdom was divided, 10 northern tribes, 2 southern. The norther tribes were referred to as Israel, the southern as Judah.
722 BC, Assyria conquered the northern tribes and exiled many of them. They also resettled other captives from other nations in Israel.
We read about this in 2 Kings 17.
2 Kings 17:24–33 NIV
The king of Assyria brought people from Babylon, Kuthah, Avva, Hamath and Sepharvaim and settled them in the towns of Samaria to replace the Israelites. They took over Samaria and lived in its towns. When they first lived there, they did not worship the Lord; so he sent lions among them and they killed some of the people. It was reported to the king of Assyria: “The people you deported and resettled in the towns of Samaria do not know what the god of that country requires. He has sent lions among them, which are killing them off, because the people do not know what he requires.” Then the king of Assyria gave this order: “Have one of the priests you took captive from Samaria go back to live there and teach the people what the god of the land requires.” So one of the priests who had been exiled from Samaria came to live in Bethel and taught them how to worship the Lord. Nevertheless, each national group made its own gods in the several towns where they settled, and set them up in the shrines the people of Samaria had made at the high places. The people from Babylon made Sukkoth Benoth, those from Kuthah made Nergal, and those from Hamath made Ashima; the Avvites made Nibhaz and Tartak, and the Sepharvites burned their children in the fire as sacrifices to Adrammelek and Anammelek, the gods of Sepharvaim. They worshiped the Lord, but they also appointed all sorts of their own people to officiate for them as priests in the shrines at the high places. They worshiped the Lord, but they also served their own gods in accordance with the customs of the nations from which they had been brought.
Map
Secular records show that there were more Israelites in the area, and gradually, worship of the Lord became predominant.
However, the Samaritans were a little different than the Jews.
The Samaritans only held to the first 5 books of the Old Testament. And, their copies were slightly different.
They held that the Jews were wrong to have a temple in Jerusalem. Rather, Mt. Gerizim was the place where the tabernacle should have remained.
Later, the Samaritans built a temple on Mt. Gerizim.
c. 128 BC, Jewish ruler John Hyrcanus destroyed Shechem and the temple at Mt. Gerizim.
AD 6, Samaritans desecrated the Jewish temple by putting human bones in the temple porches and sanctuary during Passover.
Because of the hostilities, many times the Jews would not travel through Samaria when traveling between Judea and Galilee.
They would literally take twice as long and travel around Samaria.
So, that is the background of John 4. So, let’s read this verse again.
John 4:4 NIV
Now he had to go through Samaria.

Why does it say “He had to go through Samaria?”

He did not ‘have’ to go through because there was no other way to travel. He could have taken the long way around.
But the text is clear. It says He had to.
My first thought was to look up the word ‘had to’. Does the original Greek text mean ‘had to’, or what?
Well, yes, it means ‘had to’.
So then, I decided to see the places where this word is used. Then things got interesting.
Would you believe this word is used 99 times in the New Testament.
I started reading the verses where it is used, and very quickly I realized something that I thought was pretty wild.
When, I tell you the word for ‘had to’, or ‘must’ is used 99 times, how do you think it is used for the most part?
Many people think Christianity is all about things we have to do, or not do.
There is some of that. But when I started looking at the verses, and who had to do what, guess who the subject, or actor, that is used most with ‘had to’ is.
Jesus! Not you, me, or anyone else. Yes, there are things we must do. But the one that is the actor that ‘has to’ do things the most in the New Testament is Jesus!
Over 20 times Jesus is the one who had to do something.
This expression is used 10 times in John. Seven of those 10 are Jesus having to do something.
Let’s look at the 10 in John.
John 3:7 NIV
You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’
John 3:14 NIV
Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up,
John 3:30 NIV
He must become greater; I must become less.”
John 4:4 NIV
Now he had to go through Samaria.
John 4:20 NIV
Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”
John 4:24 NIV
God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”
John 9:4 NIV
As long as it is day, we must do the works of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work.
John 10:16 NIV
I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.
John 12:34 NIV
The crowd spoke up, “We have heard from the Law that the Messiah will remain forever, so how can you say, ‘The Son of Man must be lifted up’? Who is this ‘Son of Man’?”
John 20:9 NIV
(They still did not understand from Scripture that Jesus had to rise from the dead.)
Let’s look at some of the other verses that describe what Jesus had to do.
Luke 4:43 NIV
But he said, “I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent.”
Luke 9:22 NIV
And he said, “The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.”
Luke 13:33 NIV
In any case, I must press on today and tomorrow and the next day—for surely no prophet can die outside Jerusalem!
Luke 17:25 NIV
But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.
Luke 19:5 NIV
When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.”
Luke 22:37 NIV
It is written: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors’; and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfillment.”
Luke 24:7 NIV
‘The Son of Man must be delivered over to the hands of sinners, be crucified and on the third day be raised again.’ ”
Luke 24:44 NIV
He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.”
What did most of these verses say Jesus ‘had to’ do?
Most of them had to do with him suffering and dying for us.
A few of them deal with Jesus having to preach to others, or go to certain individuals, like Zaccheus.
So, keeping that in mind, “Why did Jesus have to go through Samaria?”
Jesus did not have to go through Samaria because he had no other good options or routes.
Jesus did not have go through Samaria because he was in a hurry to get to Galilee.
Jesus had to go through Samaria because he was on mission. He was doing the work the Father sent him to do.
What was that mission? Looking at the context of one of the things Jesus had to do—going to Zaccheus’ house—Luke 19:10 says...
Luke 19:10 NIV
For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”
Jesus was on mission to seek and to save the lost.
He had a divine appointment with the woman at the well! The Samaritan woman at the well. The Samaritan, adulterous, woman at the well. The Samaritan, adulterous, idolatrous, woman at the well. He came to seek and to save that woman at the well!
My next question is,

How did he handle what he ‘had to’ do?

Think about the things you and I have to do. There are many things we have to do in life. Some of them are not very pleasant.
How do we handle those things?
I’ll be honest. I do not always do those things I ‘have to’ do with a good attitude.
They are not pleasant. I don’t like it. So, I do it begrudgingly.
Do you do that?
Did Jesus to it like that?
Think about it. He was having to walk around. He had to walk in the heat of the day, on the dusty trails, in blistering heat, under the glaring, burning sun for hours on end. Then, when he has a chance to take a break, he has to engage in a deep conversation with a woman who most people would write off.
He came to the world he created, the people he created and cared for who have rejected him over and over, and he knew he was going to be betrayed, humiliated, beaten, cursed, ridiculed and crucified. Sounds like a great job. Something he ‘had to’ do.
I think the things Jesus ‘had to’ do were a lot worse than the things I ‘have to’ do.
How did he do it?
Against his will? Begrudgingly? With a bad attitude? With a huff and a puff? With slumped shoulders? With an eye-roll? With muttering under his breath?
No, Jesus thrived on this. That is why when the disciples came back with food, he did not want any. He said his food was ...
John 4:34 NIV
“My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.
That was the thing that brought him fulfillment. That is what he enjoyed. His Whopper of choice was to do this hard stuff that he ‘had to’ do.
This reminds me of the Garden of Gethsemane, where Jesus was praying,
Luke 22:42 NIV
“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.”
Luke 22:44 NIV
And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.
This was hard for Jesus! This was no easy task. This was a burdensome task beyond what you and I know.
Yet, Jesus did this work, this work He ‘had to’ do for our salvation. And he did it willingly.
John 10:18 NIV
No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”
How could he do this? How could he do it willingly, with a good attitude? Hebrews 12 tells us.
Hebrews 12:2 NIV
fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
He could do it because he was looking forward to what was coming. He could do it willingly, with a good attitude because he knew the joy it would bring in eternity!
Jesus went to Samaria because the people ‘had to’ do something—something we have to do as well.
Verses of our “have to’s”
John 3:7 NIV
You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’
Acts 16:30–31 NIV
He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.”
Acts 4:12 NIV
Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”
Homework
Jesus had a mission from God the Father. He came and did what He ‘had to’ do, willingly and with a good attitude. Think about how He did this for you! Just like he had to go to the woman at the well, just like he had to go to Zaccheus, he had to reach out to you. You also were a divine appointment for Jesus!
Monday: Read through the verses of what Jesus had to do in Luke and John.
Luke 4:43; 9:22; 13:33; 17:25; 19:5-10; 22:37; 24:7; 24:44.
John 3:14; 3:30; 4:4; 9:4; 10:16; 12:34; 20:9.
Just think, you were one of the other sheep in John 10:16.
Take time to thank Him for doing what He ‘had to’ do, so willingly and lovingly!
The rest of the week, look at verses of things we ‘have to’ do.
Make a list of things we ‘have to’ do.
Consider how you can do these things, with a good attitude, for God’s glory.
Also, consider how we can keep proper focus as we do these things. Hebrews 12:2
Some of the verses will read ‘must’, ‘ought’, or ‘should’. These are all ways in English that we express things we have to do.
Tuesday: Read 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8.
Wednesday: Hebrews 2:1; Acts 14:22; 1 Peter 1:6-7.
Thursday: Luke 18:1; Romans 8:26.
Friday: Ephesians 6:20; Colossians 4:4.
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