Our Divine Appointment
['HE MUST NEEDS GO THROUGH SAMARIA']
“1 When therefore the Lord knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John,
2 (Though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples,)
3 He left Judaea, and departed again into Galilee.
4 And he must needs go through Samaria.
5 Then cometh he to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph.
6 Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well: and it was about the sixth hour.
7 There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink.
8 (For his disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat.)
9 Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.
10 Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water. JOHN 4:1-10”
Just before we returned to Scotland from Ireland, my wife and I – along with our friend Natalie, who was assisting – were trying to get from Dublin to Powerscourt House to set up for a wedding. We were trying to find the southbound carriageway of the M50 – the Dublin city bypass – which would take us there.
Coming out of the city I was diligently following the roadsigns for the M50 south, until we found ourselves heading away from the motorway onto a small back road to a place called Lost. It is very like a place called Amach, until I realised it was the Irish Gaelic for 'exit'.
My dear lady suggested that we ask for directions and we stopped to ask a local pedestrian the way to the Southbound carriageway of the M50.
“I'm going there meself,” says he. Plainly a lie, as he was walking and may also have had a drink or two the night before; but letting that pass, we asked how he would get there as we'd had considerable difficulty.
“You're right there,” was the reply. “It's a problem, but if it were me, I'd go north and turn round!”
So there you have it. If you cannot find the right way, go the wrong way and turn around. And in a sense this is what Jesus did here. He set out for Galilee, but later on in the chapter He appears in Jerusalem, which seems to have been his destination after all. He went north to go south, and there are important reasons for that choice. Scripture reveals to us in a number of stories that north represents judgement; south is the place of blessing, showing us that we must submit ourselves to The Lord's judgement before we can receive the fullness of 'the city of peace'.
Jesus was to travel from Judea to Galilee - we are only told that He wanted to avoid the Pharisees - and the most direct road was through Samaria. If you look at a Bible Map, you can see Judea in the south (where Bethlehem and Jerusalem are situated); Galilee in the north (Nazareth and the Sea of Galilee), and right between them (almost exactly) the land of the Samaritans, in the centre of which is the city of Samaria and (nearby) the town of Sychar. So it is entirely natural that Jesus should choose to go this way.
We know about the Pharisees, and as a metaphor for an adherance to religious form, they are the very antithesis of walking in the Spirit; thus we too must leave all form and religiousness behind us in our walk with Jesus. The spirit that the Pharisees portray (and it can so easily take hold in us), seeks to stop Jesus' work before it properly begins. So it seems right that Jesus would want to distance Himself from this, but I believe there was more. Jesus lived by the Holy Spirit and there was an appointment to keep. An appointment no different to those that millions of us have experienced with Him; an appointment fundamental to God's plan and Jesus' purpose in revealing the Kingdom and His church. It is happening now and every now, wherever and whenever someone turns to looks into His eyes.
In John, Chapter 3, Jesus explains the need to be born again to Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. Then we have John the Baptist explaining Jesus to his disciple and to the Jews gathered - 26 And they came unto John, and said unto him, Rabbi, he that was with thee beyond Jordan, to whom thou barest witness, behold, the same baptizeth, and all men come to him.
27 John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven.
That expression, beyond Jordan, to me suggests a place of the Holy Spirit; of being nearer to God, and here we are in Judea; the land of the Jews. This is where we all come to faith – not literally, but figuratively. Why? Because Jesus was born here, in Bethlehem, the house of bread – literally to build up and feed, ready for a spiritual war.
Judea is a picture of our early life in faith; the place where we are 'born again', just as it was explained to Nicodemus. “Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. JOHN 3:3”. It is also the place for the fullness of our life in faith, when we have come full circle to Jerusalem. This journey that Jesus undertook; that we also embark upon is not a 'once and it is done' trip. This is something that we can repeat daily; monthly; hourly in the Spirit.
Judea, as the centre of our rebirth becomes the place of blessing - and feeling the warmth of the southern climes and of Jesus' presence in our lives leads us to praise and to worship Him. It also fosters the desire in us to know Him more deeply. Someone who brings such joy and peace in the depths of us, must have enormous wells of compassion and love in Himself, that He can share it so freely and unreservedly. Judea signifies home.
So it now seems that John is telling us here of the three stages in our walk of Faith, with chapter 3 speaking of our beginnings in Judea; then our journey through Samaria to Galilee in chapter 4; and with Chapter 5 we find ourselves in Jerusalem (Judea again), our life in Christ.
There is no mention of the journey from Galilee to Jerusalem. When we find Galilee, then spiritually, we also find Jerusalem. That is where we are. There is no journey; no further trial. Jerusalem is "founded peaceful", according to its name; thus it is the place of rest in Him, (in the sense of being at ease and without stress or anxiety in His company); the place we are intended to find when His nature becomes an indwelling reality to us.
This happens when we reach a place of trust in Him; an acceptance of the reality of His presence within us. At this, our personal Galilee, He opens the door to Jerusalem, which is our abiding in Him and He in us. (1 JOHN 4:13 Hereby know we that we dwell in him, and he in us, because he hath given us of his Spirit.)
But for our immediate purposes the destination is Galilee, a Hebrew word meaning a circle or ring (from a word meaning roll, commit, roll away, trust, seek occasion). The visual image of the ring or circle is one of completion, of being made one, wholely realised, and it is of great significance that the notion of trust forms a large part of our being made whole, for surely if we are to be complete in Jesus Christ, we must trust in Him completely, fully and without reservation. When we commit to Him fully, He encircles us in love; hedges us about so that a bond of trust is formed in us.
“14 Afterward Jesus findeth him in the temple, and said unto him, Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.
15 The man departed, and told the Jews that it was Jesus, which had made him whole. JOHN 5:14-15”.
It is worth pointing out here that the only requirement of us seems to be that we commit ourselves to Him. There is no need for us to provide a curriculum vitae; no need to establish our credentials to prove our worth. We do not have to perform.
Jesus, when He was baptised received the approval of Father God calling Him "my Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased". This happened before His ministry began. He had yet to do what He was sent to accomplish. If we are following in Jesus' footsteps we too have that endorsement. There is no striving to achieve. We are accepted and loved because we have turned to Him.
However, to find the life in Galilee and find the indwelling reality of Jesus, we need to travel through Samaria, because this is an essential part of our journey; it is getting to know Him and to experience how being 'born again' translates into everyday experience. Jesus needed to go through Samaria, it says in verse 4. On the map, travelling from Judea to Galilee it is the shortest route.
Looking at it from the Samaritan woman's point-of-view. Her purpose at the well was an everyday mundane but essential task; gathering water. And there was Jesus standing before her. Had she been looking for God, what would she have done? If it was me, I am sure my first thought would not have been “I am going to the tap in the kitchen. God's bound to be there!”
No, I would have switched on Pharisee-mode and planned it out. I would have relied on me to find Him. But His plan is better – He shows up when I need – even when I don't know I need. Better still, He needs to be there. He must needs go through Samaria, because I need Him to do so. Hallelujah! What sort of a plan has that built in? No man-made programme, or schedule, or order is EVER going to match that for beauty and simplicity. You need – He's onto it – He's there for you. All we have to do is trust in Him. And that is Galilee; trust.
The other day, I was praying about our financial situation; as always seemingly precarious, and I believe the Lord said to me “Do you not trust Me?” Of course I trust Him. “Well, if you trust me with providing for your needs, then you pray amiss.” You understand that I am putting into words the gut feeling I had; the understanding the Lord put in my heart. He seemed to say that my continued prayer on this one thing displayed a fear and anxiety on my part that came down to a lack of trust that He would do what He had already displayed He would do on countless previous occasions. He didn't say “Don't pray”, he said in effect “Watch and pray”. Discern what I am doing; watch well; understand and pray with the wisdom that follows.
Now the city of Samaria is set upon a rock, a high place - of vantage. Here we can see more clearly. (Samaria = watch-tower, from root, to observe; to keep oneself). It speaks of discernment (seeing with spiritual eyes); of guarding where we are spiritually; of seeking the truth in the living water that is Jesus, so that we may live in understanding and wisdom and righteousness.
Jesus needed to go through Samaria, both for Himself in fulfilling His purpose and nature, and for us as being ever-present - that we shall find Him with us, even in the everyday. We must always be watchful to keep that heaven sent appointment with Jesus. Be aware of the fact that he knows of our need. He is the great physician and his appointment book has only those who seek His expertise in it.
In presenting His life to us in this way it reveals most transparently that He will always take the route that answers our need for Him. Jesus is the watch-tower, always looking, noticing and observing - seeking His people whether near or far - ready to answer the need. And when we mature in His nature, then we also become available to “meet the need” in others. That is how it works. And when we are in a corporate setting – in a fellowship – then each of us has that Christ-given duty to “meet the need” in each other. Each one of us is important to Him in building up the body, whether we fetch a glass of water for someone; make some food for lunch, or simply turn up at meetings. We all count. We all need each other.
This passage in John is the only mention in Scripture of Sychar, a name which means to be a liar, or someone intoxicated with strong drink, (in which condition our mouths frequently spout any nonsense or untruth). Gill told me it also speaks of pride – the ultimate expression of self. I can do all this. Am I not wonderful?
It seems relevant that near to the place where Jesus speaks of the living water and truth, and the woman is drawing natural water, there is a place of lies, deceit and drunken-ness. It is the temptation of the World. It is there to draw us away from Him. Strong drink gives all the appearance of easing our discomfort; it brings conviviality and relaxation and pleasant company and alleviates our pain and... no, it does not! That is Satan's lie. Lovely at the moment, but pain and sickness and a falling away from God are what the Ruler of this world has for you. But pride and arrogance would have us believe that we can do it all ourselves – by our own wits.
In Luke 21, Jesus says this: 33 Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.
34 And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares.
35 For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth.
36 Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.
What did Jesus say to the woman at the well?
14 But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.
15 The woman saith unto him, Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw.
Moving on to verse 22:
22 Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.
23 But the hour cometh, and now is, - He is not speaking of tomorrow! All He promises is for this very moment. I cannot stress this too much; now is always the time for His promises...and for us to be before Him - when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him.
24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
25 The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things.
26 Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he.
27 ¶ And upon this came his disciples, and marvelled that he talked with the woman: yet no man said, What seekest thou? or, Why talkest thou with her?
When we read this we notice that the disciples are not present for most of this story. They have gone on an errand. A perfectly usual, normal one. Jesus stands alone with the woman, (who here represents His church). If we are seeking the Living Water, then we must go to the source, not to someone who can tell you about the source. That is the first duty of the disciple; to lead you to be alone with Jesus at His well. We need to be alone with Him. I need to look into His eyes to see His compassion for myself – only then do I know that the disciple is not himself deceived. Many people pass through this pulpit; and some could be unknowingly speaking false doctrine. And even speaking the truth, no man has the whole truth. I can speak what I believe is true to you, but only Christ can give you THE TRUTH...when he is come, he will tell us all things. We must worship Him in Spirit and in Truth. So if you hear truth from my lips it is Christ speaking through me under the anointing. I have no ability to do it on my own.
The gathering is essential; it is good, of course it is; it is a necessity in our spiritual development, but only when we look into His eyes and see Him clearly, understanding Him, can we hear truth. And with His truth comes appreciation of His compassion for those whom God gave to Him. Each one of us.
Jesus again speaks to but one, just as He did to Nicodemus. That word spoken does not return to Him void...
28 The woman then left her waterpot, and went her way into the city, and saith to the men,
29 Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?
30 Then they went out of the city, and came unto him.
Hallelujah! A word to one witness brought many to Him.
This is a spectacular message from John 17:
6 I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word.
7 Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee.
8 For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me.
9 I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine.
10 And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them.
I never cease to feel uplifted and transformed by these words. Words that Jesus spoke - He who could speak no lie. Watch and pray! Watch and pray!
These words are magnificent and reveal the heart of God - for they are thine. We are His. We belong to Him; purchased by His blood!
We are called in Judea; our personal Judea – the place of Praise and Worship.
We are on a journey to our Galilee – the place of peace and trust (Our trust in Him; His love and compassion for us). Resting in Him.
When we find our Galilee, behold, we are in a personal Jerusalem – the peaceful watering – the heavenly place – life in Him. But it doesn't end there, for there is higher still. Zion may not be the highest hill in Jerusalem, but it stands for those desiring to reach out to be one of God's special people – a select few with such a heart for Him that they will look neither to the right nor to the left but only at the Father; a people that will allow themselves to be used by the Almighty as a first fruits of His people – holy and righteous and dedicated to serving the glory of God; made in His image; sons of the Most High, who are yet humble and of contrite heart, desiring that all be saved to witness His radiance for eternity.
There is not a one of us knows whether we are in this company or not. If we are clear-sighted enough in His truth, we know that such a calling is not a possibility for us in our own strength. We cannot strive to be a part; we can only say “Here am I; send me!” (ISAIAH 6:8b). Willing to be chosen. Many are called; few chosen... and all things are possible for God.
All we need to do is keep watchful and pray without ceasing, and keep our appointment with God, every day in our own Samaria, for we know in our heart where it will lead us.
Thank you, Heavenly Father.
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George John Stewart is an artist, illustrator and writer and is part of a small Christian Fellowship in Kilmartin, Argyll, Scotland.