Had to Go There


John 4:1-42

He had to go through Samaria on the way (John 4:4).

Author Elizabeth Berg once wrote, “You know the phrase ‘It’s always in the little things’? In writing, it is always the little things—it’s the details . . . that make a character and a story come alive.”

The gospel authors knew the importance of details. For example, the apostle John wrote that Jesus “had to go through Samaria” as He was traveling from Judea to Galilee (John 4:4). This little detail tells us more than we often realize about Jesus, His kingdom, and what it means to be His follower.

Pious Jews of Jesus’ day wouldn’t be caught dead in Samaria. They would rather take the long way home to avoid that dreaded place because they considered Samaritans to be unclean and defiled half-breeds. Back in those days, it was also unheard of for a Jewish man, especially a rabbi, to talk with a woman in public. Women were considered inferior to men. No self-respecting Jewish male would ever strike up a conversation with a female, let alone a divorcée who was living with a man that wasn’t her husband (John 4:17-18).

But that’s what Jesus did (John 4:7-42). It’s precisely why John reported that Jesus “had to go through Samaria.” He hadto travel through a region that many considered racially and religiously impure so that He could converse with a woman with a sketchy background; He wanted to push back the injustices of His day—namely racism, sexism, and social prejudice. Jesus “had to go” to make a bold statement. In essence, He was declaring: “There is no place for such things in My kingdom.” As He went, He also set a pattern for His followers.

John’s seemingly small detail tells us that being Jesus’ follower and working for His kingdom involves standing against the wrong in our world and working to make it right.

—Jeff Olson  


Read Micah 6:8 and note how the Old Testament prophet links the seeking of justice and mercy with humbly following God.


How are you standing for what Jesus stood for and against what He stood against? Why is justice so important to God?


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