Had to go

In John 4 we read that Jesus was in Judea and was going to Galilee. John tells us that to get there he “had to go through Samaria on the way” (John 4:4).
Jesus was a Jew. The people in Samaria were Samaritans. Jewish people and Samaritan people historically didn’t get on at all. The Jews took pride in their ethnic purity. They were God’s chosen people. The Samaritans were a mixed race. They were seen as second rate. They weren’t allowed to worship in the temple in Jerusalem – they had to worship God at their own, not as sacred temple. Jewish people did their best to avoid all contact with Samaritans – they would go the long way round to get from Galilee to Judea.
I don’t know if you have ever used Google Maps (or any of the other online maps/navigation apps). When you use Google Maps to get directions it tends to give you several options – the fastest route, the shortest route, the route that avoids toll road, the route that avoids motorways, the route that avoids roads that have an “f” in their name. (I may have made that last one up…). And you have a choice as to which route to take to get from where you are to your destination. (If you use the iPhone Maps app you also have a choice of which route to take, but with a twist that none will take you to your destination…). This choice very nearly lead to chaos for me recently. I was going to a Worship Central concert with my brother at a church I had never heard of before, so I looked up directions on my phone, and saw there was a roundabout at which I had to go on the motorway to get there. I also asked my brother to print out the directions as we live in the country so I knew I couldn’t rely on having phone signal to get the directions as we went. But when we got to the roundabout and I was heading to the motorway turnoff we realised he had been shown and printed off the non-motorway route. Which we realised as I was passing the turnoff I needed to take for the non-motorway route. So there was a sudden last minute turn off made (because real men don’t do the lap of shame round roundabouts a second time!)
Jesus had options. Geographically, He didn’t have to go through Samaria. There were other options. He could have gone the long way round. But He had a divine appointment to make. There was a woman to meet and a village to transform. Jesus had to go through Samaria on the way, not because that was the route everyone took, but because that was the route the Holy Spirit led Him on. It wouldn’t have made sense to his disciples. They would have been used to taking the alternative route to avoid Samaria. But Jesus knew he had to follow the Holy Spirit’s guidance.
It is the same for us. When the Holy Spirit leads us, we need to follow. We can’t look for alternative routes. We can’t try to go the long way round. Even when it doesn’t make sense we need to follow God’s guidance, as there will always be a reason. The disciples found it shocking that Jesus would speak to a Samaritan woman, but as a result of that conversation many Samaritans from the village believed in Jesus (John 4:39). Where we are being lead may not seem to make sense, but we don’t know what people we will bump into along the way, what conversations we will have, what impact we can make for the Kingdom. When the Holy Spirit leads us, we have to go.
{image source: www.ccel.org}

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