Leaving His local area of Galilee, Jesus progressed South.
The capital city of Jerusalem was God’s chosen place for the offering of sacrifices. Every step took Jesus closer to His decision. To offer Himself as a sacrifice for sin.
This would mean going through Samaria.
The Jews avoided the Samaritans because of their bitter history. Just over a hundred years before Jesus was born, the Jews had destroyed the Samaritan temple on Mount Gerizim. To this day the Samaritans believe they are the true Israelites who have preserved the authentic words of God given at Mount Sinai.
Here’s a brief history: 1
|Death of King Solomon causes the nation of Israel to split into North and South.||975 BC|
|The Northern kingdom of Israel was overpowered by the Assyrians. The Assyrians sent five eastern tribes to live in Northern Israel. These foreigners intermarried with the depleted Israelite population. This hybrid people group was the beginning of the Samaritans.||724 BC|
|The Assyrian empire fell to the Egyptians||612 BC|
|The Egyptians defeated by the Babylonians, and Samaria became a minor capital city of the Babylonian empire||605 BC|
|The southern kingdom of Judah was also conquered by the Babylonians and the whole of Israel and Judah came to be known as Samaria. Many Jews were exiled from their homeland and taken captive into Babylon for seventy years, as prophesied by Jeremiah. The poorest, sickest, and least skilled were left behind. These remaining people intermarried with their northern neighbours with the result that foreign beliefs and customs mixed with Jewish beliefs and customs.||586 BC|
|Devout Jews returned to Jerusalem, with the purpose of rebuilding the city and its temple.||516 BC|
|Samaritans had developed their own version of Judaism. They still believed in the God of Israel, but they worshipped at Mount Gerizim (instead of Jerusalem) with their own, adapted worship practices. The Samaritans also had their own Pentateuch in Aramaic, which differed from the Hebrew Pentateuch in places. To this day, the Samaritans do not accept the poetic and prophetic books of the Hebrew scriptures.||400 BC|
|Zealous Jews destroyed the Samaritan temple||113 BC|
Jews travelling between Galilee and Judea would take the longer, six-day journey along the Jordan River valley rather than taking a shorter, more direct route through Samaria.
On one occasion, Jesus planned to go through a Samaritan village. But the people of the village did not welcome Jesus because he was on his way to Jerusalem.
After personally seeing Jesus transfigured, the two brothers, James and John were strong in faith. When they saw this, they said to Jesus,
“Lord, should we call down fire from heaven to burn them up”? 3
It was not outrageous to view the Samaritans as evil and use them as an insult. Even in the Jewish Temple Jesus was called a Samaritan devil! who was possessed by a demon 2.
Jesus reproves the comments of James and John. Then, in the following chapter of Luke, highlights this ungracious attitude with the story of the Good Samaritan.
The way Jesus interacts with the much-despised Samaritans gives a perfect glimpse of God’s heart for everyone:
|The Samaritan woman at the well
Many Samaritans from the village believed in Jesus because the woman had said, “He told me everything I ever did!”
When they came out to see him, they begged him to stay in their village. So he stayed for two days, long enough for many more to hear his message and believe.
|The Good Samaritan parable
Then a despised Samaritan came along, and when he saw the man, he felt compassion for him. Going over to him, the Samaritan soothed his wounds with olive oil and wine and bandaged them. Then he put the man on his own donkey and took him to an inn, where he took care of him.
|The thankful Samaritan
One of them, when he saw that he was healed, came back to Jesus, shouting, “Praise God!” He fell to the ground at Jesus’ feet, thanking him for what he had done. This man was a Samaritan. Jesus asked, “Didn’t I heal ten men? Where are the other nine Has no one returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?” And Jesus said to the man, “Stand up and go. Your faith has saved you.”