On the Way to Galilee

On the Way to Galilee, by Ty Tamasaka

On the wAY TO GALILEE (1).jpg

“4 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.)”  John 4:1-7 NIV

As we begin John 4, let’s get some context to begin.

First, we will need to recognize that Israel at this time was divided into three regions.  Judea, in the south was occupied by the Jews.  Galilee in the north was also occupied by the Jews.  Samaria was in the middle.  When Jews wanted to go from Judea to Galilee, the most direct route was through Samaria.

Those considered good Jews, though, never went that way.  They would go through the other side of the Jordan River through Perea.

There was a strong racial tension between the Jews and Samaritans.  The Assyrians hated the Jews and didn’t want only to take their land, but also to destroy their culture.  In 722 B.C. the Assyrians invaded Israel from the north and carried away the majority of the people from the northern tribes into captivity.  They would attempt to indoctrinate the Jews in captivity.  The Assyrians understood that if they left the Jewish culture in tact, they would grow up to hate the Assyrians and try to conquer.  As a result, after the invasion, the Assyrians sent some of their people to Israel where they intermarried with the Jews to blend the culture.  The result of the marriages between the Assyrians and Jews, were the Samaritans – seen as “half-breeds” by the Jews.

Eventually the Jews left captivity and returned to Israel and rebuilt the Temple.  In the mean time, the Samaritans had adopted false gods, false worship, and pagan practices such as child sacrifice.  Samaritans claimed they worshipped the true God, but they abandoned all of the Old Testament books except the first five.  They were now considered the outcasts of society to the point they were banned from the temple

Now, let’s focus on verse 4.  Now he (Jesus) had to go through Samaria.”  Why is this verse significant?  It shows us two truths about Jesus’ style of evangelism.

1 – Jesus went where no one went, and did what no one did, to reach those whom no one was reaching. 

Jesus didn’t go to Samaria because there was no other physical way for Him to get to Galilee.  He went through Samaria because there was a divine appointment awaiting Him there – the Samaritan woman who would become His first evangelist!  Jesus didn’t avoid the places where lost people congregated.  He went where no one went, and did what no one did, to reach those no one was reaching.    

2 – Jesus adapted His style to reach different people. 

When we look at John 3 and John 4, we can see some very contrasting versions of Jesus reaching out to very different people in very different ways.

Nicodemus – John 3

Samaritan Woman – John 4

Religious man

Immoral woman

Calm contemplator

Fiery debater

Spoken to in the cool of the night

Spoken to in the heat of the day

Nicodemus initiates the conversation

Jesus initiates the conversation

Jesus clearly used certain methods to reach the moral, religious Nicodemus and different methods to reach the immoral, adulterous woman.  This tells us that there are no “cookie cutter” ways to reach people.  Jesus used different means to reach different people back then as He does today.

Heavenly Father, make my heart more like the heart of Jesus.  Increase my passion to reach people where they are. Whether it is them initiating a conversation or me, empower me to be ready at all times to reach different people for You.  In the name of Jesus Christ, amen. 

Ty Tamasaka is an author who hold a Master of Arts Degree from Pacific Rim Christian University in Christian Ministry  He is a Bible teacher who loves to encourage people to enjoy Jesus’ grace and extend His Kingdom. Ty just released his new book More than a Conqueror: 5 Pathways to Personal Revival.    


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