23 Mar Jesus Seeks out the Outcast
Is there a place that you do your best to avoid? Maybe it’s a dangerous part of town or a place where you have bad enemies and bad memories? We see in John 4 that when God came to earth, He went to the very place that everyone else avoided.
In Jesus’ day, what we now refer to as the Holy Lands stretched a mere 120 miles along the Mediterranean Sea and were divided into three distinct regions. In the north was Galilee, and in the south was Judea. In the middle was Samaria. Samaria was considered a gross placed filled with godless people. The trip between the north and south took about three days if you traveled directly through Samaria, but about twice that long if you chose – like most good Jews – to travel the longer route around Samaria to avoid the forsaken Samaritans.
The feud between the Jews and the Samaritans was long and bitter. In Samaria was a town called Sychar that was originally bought by Jacob (Genesis 33:18–19) who then gave the land to Joseph (Genesis 48:22) who was later buried there after he had died in Egypt and his body was transported home (Joshua 24:32). In this region, Mount Gerizim was recognized as a holy site because both Abraham and Isaac had built altars there (Genesis 12:7, 33:30). Because of its history, the Jews in Samaria began to worship God upon Mount Gerizim (Deuteronomy 11:26–29, 27:1–8).
Many years later, around 720 B.C., the Assyrians invaded northern Samaria and took nearly all the Jews into captivity in Media (2 Kings 17:6). At the same time, the Assyrians moved people from other nations and religions into Samaria (2 Kings 17:24). Consequently, the remaining Jews did the unthinkable and began intermarrying with foreign people who worshiped other gods, thereby giving up their religious devotion to the true God in order to follow false gods. Their cult even included child sacrifice (2 Kings 17:29–41). (Think of it like a cult that meets in Planned Parenthood abortion clinics, and you are close to how the Jews perceived the Samaritans.) If a Jew married a Samaritan, their family would hold a funeral and consider them dead.
Is there a group of people that you are prejudiced against?