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. 6 Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon. John 4:4-6
By the time Jesus came on the scene in Ancient Palestine, there was a centuries-old feud between the Jews and the Samaritans. When Jesus left Judea to go to Galilee, He decided to use a shortcut and go through a Samaritan town. Using that route, the journey could be done in three days. The alternative route was to cross the Jordan, go up the eastern side of the river to avoid Samaria, recross the Jordan north of Samaria and then enter Galilee. This was a route which took twice as long.
Jesus’ detour, however, was not only about shortening His travel. Jesus detoured through Sychar because of the Samaritan woman. That detour led to the salvation of the entire town of Sychar. After all, it wasn’t just the Samaritan woman who believed and was saved, it was everyone in town.
Jesus is still making detours today. There is no limit to where God will go to reach a sinner. Indeed, the Church of Jesus Christ is filled with people that Jesus had to go to some unpleasant or dark places to reach them. That’s why we should never give up on anybody. Jesus will go to death row to reach a convicted murderer, a go-go bar to reach a dancer, or a crack house to reach an addict.
Jesus’ detour was culturally and religiously controversial. Culturally, Jews and Samaritans did not get along with each other; and the idea that a Jewish man could be seen in public talking with a Samaritan woman alone was unacceptable and taboo. But given the outcome of that encounter, Jesus did not care what people would say or feel. He saw an opportunity to offer living water to the people of Sychar and was not going to be deterred by cultural norms.
Religiously, Jesus was a respected Rabbi who should not be seen talking to a woman alone in public. In those days, Jewish rabbis would not even walk around with their wives in public. Jesus violated that religious rule because that was the only way He was going to get through the woman, and consequently the rest of the people of Sychar.
At times, God may ask us to violate some cultural rules to reach a lost soul. That may mean a ministry to prostitutes or drug addicts. It may include participating in prison ministry or ministering to those in a rehab center. We should prioritize people’s salvation over cultural rules. After all, many of us are saved today because Jesus went to a forbidden place to reach us.
Throughout my ministry, God has led me to minister to those in refugee centers, homeless shelters, prisons, detox centers, and crime ridden housing projects. I’ve ministered to murderers, rapists, gang members, etc. Those ministry opportunities taught me to value people’s salvation over my conservative values and upbringing. Like Jesus, I’m willing to go to any forbidden place to share the gospel.
Don’t let cultural or personal hang ups prevent you from reaching those who really need to hear the message of salvation. Whoever God has called you to minister to, notwithstanding their lifestyle, do so without guilt or shame. The only way to reach some sinners is by going to forbidden places.
Questions for Personal Reflection
What forbidden place is the Lord asking you to go to?
What was the result of Jesus’ detour to Sychar?
Prayer- Blessed Lord, I thank you for making a detour on earth to save me. Please remove all my anxieties about going to forbidden places to reach those who are in desperate need of encounter with Jesus Christ.