II. Judea and Samaria
As we consider Judea and Samaria, we are considering those areas that are outside of our immediate towns, cities, and communities and/or those people who are nearby, but who are unlike us. Internationals who are living nearby are a good example of Judea and Samaria in our context. Consider the fact that the percentage of people living in the USA who were born outside the country reached 13.7% in 2015 and is projected to hit a record 14.9% in 2025. This is not coincidental! This is providential.
We read in Acts 17:26-27, “and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, 27 that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us.” God providentially orders where we live so that people might come to know Him. Our role is to embrace the nations that He brings to our door. But how?
A good example of how to engage those who live among us, who are unlike us, can be found in John 4:3-42. I know that this is a lengthy passage of Scripture, but what is more important, impactful, and applicable than Scripture? In John 4, we notice that Jesus was intentional. Jews usually walked around Samaria when traveling between Judea and Galilee, but Jesus “had to” travel through there. He put himself at a prime location once He arrived in Samaria: a well. We read:
He left Judea and went away again into Galilee. 4 And He had to pass through Samaria. 5 So He came to a city of Samaria called Sychar, near the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph; 6 and Jacob’s well was there. So Jesus, being wearied from His journey, was sitting thus by the well. It was about the sixth hour.
There are population segments around us with whom we rarely come in contact unless we make a point of doing so. To reach our Samaria, we will need to be intentional about putting ourselves in close proximity to them and where they congregate.
Jesus was not only intentional, but He was engaging. Jesus was interested in the woman as a person and as a Samaritan. Most Samaritans hated Jews because of their superior attitude, and the feeling was mutual. Jesus showed an interest in her, her family, her beliefs, her culture, and her hurts and needs. He did not approach her with a superior attitude, but as a man desiring a drink. We read on:
There came a woman of Samaria to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give Me a drink.” 8 For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food. 9 Therefore the Samaritan woman said to Him, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask me for a drink since I am a Samaritan woman?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) 10 Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.” 11 She said to Him, “Sir, You have nothing to draw with and the well is deep; where then do You get that living water? 12 You are not greater than our father Jacob, are You, who gave us the well, and drank of it himself and his sons and his cattle?” 13 Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.”
15 The woman said to Him, “Sir, give me this water, so I will not be thirsty nor come all the way here to draw.” 16 He said to her, “Go, call your husband and come here.” 17 The woman answered and said, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You have correctly said, ‘I have no husband’; 18 for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; this you have said truly.” 19 The woman said to Him, “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped in this mountain, and you people say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.” 21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” 25 The woman said to Him, “I know that Messiah is coming (He who is called Christ); when that One comes, He will declare all things to us.” 26 Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am He.”
27 At this point His disciples came, and they were amazed that He had been speaking with a woman, yet no one said, “What do You seek?” or, “Why do You speak with her?”
Just showing interest in someone can open such a huge door. Engaging people, even people from other parts of the world, is not that difficult. People are people and they are the same no matter where they are from. They experience emotions like you and me. They experience happiness and joy, sorrow and fear, loneliness and pain, and love. Jesus was engaging to the Samaritan woman, and we must be engaging with those we come in contact with as well.
Jesus was also strategic. He saw beyond the woman in front of Him. He saw her as a catalyst to reach her family, friends, and community. We read in verses 28-39:
So the woman left her waterpot, and went into the city and said to the men, 29 “Come, see a man who told me all the things that I have done; this is not the Christ, is it?” 30 They went out of the city, and were coming to Him.
31 Meanwhile the disciples were urging Him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.” 32 But He said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” 33 So the disciples were saying to one another, “No one brought Him anything to eat, did he?” 34 Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work. 35 Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest. 36 Already he who reaps is receiving wages and is gathering fruit for life eternal; so that he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together. 37 For in this case the saying is true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ 38 I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored and you have entered into their labor.”
39 From that city many of the Samaritans believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, “He told me all the things that I have done.”
Jesus was intentional, engaging, and strategic in His encounter with the Samaritan woman, and this was all necessary. These Samaritans needed to see Jesus and hear from Jesus to believe in Jesus. We read in verses 40-42 that this is exactly what occurred.
So when the Samaritans came to Jesus, they were asking Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days. 41 Many more believed because of His word; 42 and they were saying to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this One is indeed the Savior of the world.”
We must understand that a Samaritan would never have walked into a Jerusalem synagogue to hear the law, or even to hear Jesus for that matter, so Jesus came to Samaria Himself. It is the same for the most part with our Samaria today. People from other nations, tongues, and tribes may walk into our country and community, but they aren’t going to walk up into our churches. However, like Jesus crossed the barriers to engage this woman, we can remove some barriers as well by opening up our homes to them. For a person from another nation to be invited into our homes will absolutely floor them, for the most part!
There was a Saudi Arabian student who came to American to attend college. He brought a very special gift from his country to give to the first American family who showed him hospitality and invited him into their home. After 2 years at the university, he was moving out of his dorm to return to Saudi. A brand new Saudi student was moving in, as he was moving out. Almost as if he had forgotten something, he turned around, fell down to the floor and began to look underneath his bed. He pulled out from beneath the bed he had slept in for two years the gift he had brought from his native country. He handed it to the new student and said, “I brought this to give to the first American family who invited me into their home, but I never had the chance to use it. Here. You have it. Maybe someone will show you hospitality.”
People are all around us from other nations. We do not have to get on an airplane to go to them. We do not have to spend a lot of money or even learn another language. We simply need to be willing to open our doors and entertain strangers for the sake of the gospel. In the words of Hebrews 13:2, “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.”