He left Judea and departed again for Galilee. And he had to pass through Samaria. So he came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the field that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. John 4:3-5

Photo Credit: Michael Belk

Have you ever found yourself at a particular place and time for a specific purpose, only to encounter something completely unexpected? Meeting someone whom you had not seen for what seemed like forever? Experiencing an answer to prayer? A blessing that you weren’t aware was about to happen? That is what happened to the woman at the well.

The verses above are the setup for her encounter with Jesus. For the moment, I will make a statement that seemingly contradicts the Bible. “Jesus did not have to pass through Samaria.” Before you write me off, let me explain. The Jewish Temple was in Jerusalem, in the province of Judea, where the Jews would go for ceremonial cleansing. When traveling north to Galilee, the religious Jews took a circuitous route that involved crossing the Jordan River to avoid passing through Samaria to get to Galilee. Why? They believed that an encounter with a Samaritan would make them “unclean,” and they would have to return to the Temple to be ceremonially cleansed again.

Why then does verse 4 say, “Now he had to go through Samaria”? It was not because of convenience. It was because God planned for a Samaritan woman to have a “divine encounter” with Jesus. She was going about her daily routine, including drawing water from a well. The chapter reveals three things about her. She had been married five times and lived with a man who was not her husband, she went to the well alone, which was not customary, and she worshipped God.

With the bit of information that we have, let’s consider the following possibility for discussion. Imagine that this woman was not happy with her life. When she looked in the mirror, she didn’t love the person looking back at her. Her life consisted of simply going about daily routines. She may have been praying, “God, is this all my life will ever amount to?” Little did she know that her life was about to change.

Have you ever been dissatisfied with your life but did not see a way out or tried making changes only come to a dead end? Have you prayed thinking that God would answer in a particular way but only encountered silence from Heaven? 

God is always at work in ways that we are unaware of. When the woman began her day, she had no idea that her life would never be the same. God may lead us to places we did not plan or surprise us through a “divine appointment.” On the other hand, He accomplishes His work through His people. You might be on the other side of this story, and God might work through you to be Jesus to someone else. Be aware; be available; be actively pursuing God. He has more, much more than we can plan for ourselves.

If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.” Galatians 5:25

Next, Part 2: Outcast No More!

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