The Spread of the Good News.
Matthew 4:12; Mark 1:14; Luke 4:14; John 4:1-42
“After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God.” – Mark 1:14 NIV
Things were already beginning to heat up around Jesus. His arrival on the scene hear Jerusalem had not been without controversy. His cleansing of the Temple had not earned Him any friends among the religious leadership of the day. When news of John’s arrest reached Jesus, He took His disciples and left the region around Jerusalem and headed toward Galilee in the north. He would end up in Capernaum, near the Sea of Galilee. But His journey would also take Him through Samaria, a region most Jews usually avoided at all costs due to their hatred for the Samaritan people. Jews considered Samaritans half-breeds. They were Hebrews who had intermarried with foreigners after the fall of the northern kingdom of Israel and its capital, Samaria. To Jews in Jesus’ day, Samaritans were a mixed race, and therefore impure. During the time of the split between the southern and northern kingdoms of Israel, the people in the north had set up their own center of worship on Mount Gerizim. They developed their own priesthood and no longer traveled to Jerusalem to make sacrifices to Yahweh. All of these historical facts had created a deep hatred between Jews and Samaritans that still existed in Jesus’ day. And yet, Jesus plans His trip right through this very region. Yes, it was a shortcut, but I think there was more to Jesus’ decision than merely cutting a few days off His travel plans.
Jesus’ and His disciples stop at the well of Jacob, now the sight of a Samaritan village. Here Jesus encounters a Samaritan woman who is drawing water in the heat of the middle of the day, not the normal time this kind of work was done. Jesus’ disciples had gone into town to buy food, so Jesus and this woman are the only ones at the well. To her surprise, there is someone at the well when she arrives, and not only that, it is a Jewish man. Then Jesus shocks her even further by speaking to her – an uncommon practice in those days. The ensuing conversation is enlightening. Jesus reveals a level of awareness about this woman that catches her off guard. He knows things about her that she would rather not be known. And yet, with what He knows about her, Jesus is not only willing to talk to her, He offers her something of infinite value. “If only you know the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water” (John 4:10 NLT). Here is this woman, an outcast from the standpoint of the Jews and a moral reject from the perspective of her own people, being offered a gift from God. In this exchange, very early on in His ministry, Jesus reveals that the good news of God He is bringing is for all mankind, not just the Jews. It is for all people, not just the seemingly righteous. Jesus offers this woman what she really needs, release from her spiritual thirstiness. He offers to quench and satisfy her thirst for acceptance, love, forgiveness, and worthiness. And while initially she does not comprehend what Jesus is offering, eventually the reality of His words sink in and she runs back to her village shouting, “Come and see a man who told me everything I ever did! Could he possibly be the Messiah?” (John 4:29 NLT). As a result of Jesus’ conversation with this woman and His offer of the gift of God, “Many Samaritans from the village believed in Jesus” (John 4:39 NLT).
Much to the chagrin of the disciples, Jesus would remain several more days in this Samaritan village sharing the good news of God. Many more would come to believe in Jesus and reach the conclusion that He was the Savior of the world. While the religious leaders in Jerusalem were rejecting Jesus and His message, an entire village of Samaritans were eagerly embracing it. The Messiah had come. Salvation from God had arrived in the form of this seemingly ordinary Jewish man. But He was more than He appeared to be. He had a job to do and He was well aware of what it was that God had sent Him to accomplish. “My nourishment comes from doing the will of God, who sent me, and from finishing his work” (John 4:34 NLT). The Good News was off to a great start.
Father, I am so grateful that the Good News was available to all, including me. Thank You for sending Your Son to all mankind and making His offer of salvation available to anyone who would believe, regardless of their background, ethnicity, economic status, or moral goodness. Thank You Jesus for willingly and obediently doing the will of Your Father and accomplishing His redemptive work, in spite of the cost to Yourself. Amen.
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men