24 Sep In the “Wrong Place” at the Right Time – Words of Grace Blog – September 24, 2021
Some of Jesus’ most well-known words were spoken in an unlikely place–Samaria. The location of his words is as instructive as the words themselves.
In John 4 we hear Jesus say that he gives living water, and everyone who drinks from this water will be satisfied with eternal life. This is the life of the Spirit (John 7:37-39). Since those words were spoken, people of faith have turned to Jesus to satiate their thirst for true life in God.
Another well-known teaching of Jesus in this chapter is that true worship of God is in spirit and truth. Jesus is saying that people do not meet God on a particular mountain, or at a special building, but rather in their hearts when they are born again. Christians worship God in a variety of places and settings all over the world as they gather in spirit and truth.
Finally, Jesus told his disciples that his food was to do the will of God who sent him. The will of God is to labor in the field of humanity, sowing and reaping for the purpose of people coming to faith and being gathered into his kingdom. This teaching has guided the work of the church since her beginning.
The teachings of Jesus about the living water of eternal life, the worship of God in spirit and truth, and the call to labor for kingdom harvest are all found in this one chapter of John. These teachings are vital to the gospel and to the mission of the church.
Don’t overlook the location of these teachings. Jesus is in Samaria. For many of the Jews of Jesus’ day, Samaria is the wrong place to be. John tells us that Jews had no dealings with Samaritans. Samaritans were a mixed-race people, with a mixed-up religion. They had enough of Judaism to know about God and the fathers of the faith, but they were worshipping on the wrong mountain, according to the Jews. Some Jews would take the long way around Samaria when traveling from Judea to Galilee, as Jesus was that day.
But Jesus went through Samaria. He stopped by a well and asked for a drink from a Samaritan woman. For some it may have been the wrong place to be, but for Jesus it was the right time to speak the words of life, worship, and work in the kingdom of God.
What is the significance of Jesus speaking these words, at this time, and in this place? The answer is in the final declaration of the Samaritans who believed in Jesus. “We know,” they said, “that this is indeed the Savior of the world.” (John 4:42)
If Jesus is going to save people from all parts of the world, then he must cross borders and boundaries and enter the “wrong places” to do so. And if the church is going to join him in the fields that are white for harvest to gather people for the kingdom of God, then we must follow him into these places.
Jesus’ message to the church is that now is the right time to go to the “wrong places” with the gospel. After all, he found us in these very places and offered us the living water of eternal life.
Think on these things this weekend. Join us Sunday as we journey with Jesus through Samaria.