It's time to meet the Samaritans. They lived between Galilee to
the north and Judea to the south, and were viewed as outcasts
from both directions by their neighboring Jews.


 

When the time had come for Him to be received up, Jesus
steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem, and sent messengers
before Him. As they went, they entered a village of the Samaritans,
to prepare for Him. But they did not receive Him, because His
face was set for the journey to Jerusalem.

When His disciples James and John saw this, they said, "Lord,
do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and
consume them, just as Elijah did?" But Jesus turned and rebuked
them, and said, "The Son of Man did not come to destroy men's
lives but to save them." And they went to another village.

[{Mark 10:1} Then Jesus arose from there and came to the region
of Judea by the other side of the Jordan. Multitudes gathered to
him, and as He was accustomed, He taught them.]

                                                          Luke 9:51-56 NKJV, condensed


                                         A Soft Answer

Jesus turned the corner and is now heading in the direction of Jerusalem.
He left the beautiful countryside of Galilee where he had grown up, and
headed back to Judea where he was born thirty-three years earlier. He
was at a major crossroad in his life and would now enter into the
fulfillment of his life's work. His resolve was so obvious you could see
it on his face. The wheels were in motion, and in the imagery of the
Jewish Passover lamb, he would give his life for the sins of the people.

Jerusalem was to the south, but people always went up to Jerusalem,
meaning it was the holy city built on a hill. The great King David had
chosen Jerusalem for his capital a thousand years earlier, capturing it
from a tribe of Canaanite people called the Jebusites. It was a natural
fortress on the rise of a hill with deep valleys on three sides which
contributed to its defense. There David built his palace and began
planning a majestic dwelling place for the Lord his God.

Under David, the regions known in the Gospels as Galilee, Samaria and
Judea, formed one united kingdom. But kingdoms rise and fall, increase
and decrease, and the land of the Israelites changed hands many times
over the centuries. At the time of Jesus, Palestine was part of the
Roman Empire. The Romans accommodated the native Jewish people 
by allowing them to worship in their local synagogues and at the temple
on David's Mount Zion.

With their cherished history in mind, all able-bodied devout Jews
journeyed up to Jerusalem each spring to celebrate the Feast of Passover.
Jesus went annually during his three-year ministry, but Matthew, Mark
and Luke only tell us about his final trip.

The people of Samaria--they were a different breed. Their land was
located in the middle between Galilee and Jerusalem. Over time the
Jews in Samaria had intermarried with foreigners, and the pure-blooded
Jews of Judea and Galilee looked down on them with disdain. It was
a centuries-old feud. One bone of contention was the question of where
to worship. The Samaritans erected a temple for themselves on their
own Mount Gerizim, claiming it was the spot designated by Moses,
who of course, preceded David.

The three day journey from Galilee to Jerusalem went right through the
heart of Samaria. It was the most direct route, but many Samaritans
were hostile to Galilean pilgrims on their way to religious festivals and
refused overnight shelter. Therefore travelers often chose option #2
instead, down the east side of the Jordan River, on a tract of land
called Perea, meaning "beyond".

Had Jesus and his team been passing through for other reasons, the
Samaritans probably would have assisted them. But since they were
Jews on their way to worship in Jerusalem and simply using their
highway as a convenience, they withheld services. And that's what
provoked the road rage of disciples James and John, the brothers who
earned themselves the hothead nickname, "Sons of Thunder"

Samaria was rich in Israelite history, also. The famous prophet, Elijah,
had traveled these very same roads. In one Old Testament episode
(II Kings 1) God was so disgusted with the monarch and in response,
Elijah literally called down fire from heaven on some of his troops!
Not once, but twice! The disciples, being protective of their Master and
knowing him to be greater than Elijah, relished the thought of blazing
some similar retribution.

The sons of thunder were indignant. They lost their focus and got
distracted by the actions and reactions of others. Their anger was a
lightening bolt that threw them off course and they wanted the ill-mannered
Samaritans to pay for their rudeness. But Jesus rebuked them. His was
not a mission of destruction. He had come to save, to tell people about
their loving heavenly Father, and reconcile everyone--Jew, Samaritan
and Gentile--to God and to each other.

Interestingly, the next passage makes reference to Jesus having "nowhere
to lay his head." But Jesus did not get side tracked. His face was set;
his vision clear.

 

Use the following questions for small groups, journaling, further
study or reflection.

 

Icebreaker:  Rejection--when have you experienced it and how do you
                    react to being refused, delayed or frustrated?

 

Not finding quarters for the night in Samaria is reminiscent of the night
Jesus was born and Mary & Joseph could find no room at the inn.
            Where did Jesus sleep that night in Bethlehem?
            Where do you suppose Jesus spent that night in Samaria?
            What significance do you see in the similarities of these two stories?

 

Discuss the problem of one group of people looking down on another.
            What would you like to say to pure-blood or old-blood people who
                        feel superior to others?
            In our society, who looks down on whom?
One time Jesus told a parable about a good Samaritan.
            What good thing can you say about any of the groups we pre-judge?

 

Is there still bitterness and animosity among people of faith?
            What have you observed within your church, between denominations
                        or different religions?
            How is it possible that we argue so contentiously over the proper
                        way to worship our common Father in heaven?

 

Did you ever set out on a trip or goal in life, only to get distracted and
not arrive at the destination you had set for yourself?
            If so, compare or contrast your situation to that of James and John.
            How do people stay focused when they are tempted by distractions?
James and John even used Scripture to justify their angry words.
            How could they have been with Jesus so long and still speak that way?
            What are some things you have heard defended by Scripture, which
                        you think Jesus would rebuke?

 

In what ways was Jesus' rejection in Samaria a foretaste of what he
would experience when he reached Jerusalem during his week of Passion?
            Was he telling his disciples, "Just get used to it!" or what?

 

Jesus' resolution was written all over his face.
            Is there anything written on your face?
            When you decide to accomplish something, how do others know it?

 

Jesus never spoke of the cross without a resurrection. He knew he had to
endure the cross if he wanted to be victorious over sin and death.
            How does one's belief in "Easter" help them get through "Good Friday"?

                              Prev                                                             Next