The Man from Samaria

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Jeremiah 29:1, 4-7
Psalm 66:1-11
2 Timothy 2:8-15
Luke 17:11-19

 

An interesting thing happened on the way to the Temple. Jesus was doing his thing in Galilee, as usual, when he announced to his followers that they were going to go to Jerusalem for Passover.

People from Galilee adhered to the religious beliefs of the people of Judea, unlike those who lived in Samaria. In fact, the Samaritans were so far removed from the religion of Jerusalem that no serious Jew (short for Judean) would ever walk into the territory. That created a bit of a problem for the Galileans since Galilee was in the north, Samaria in the middle, and Judea in the South of the country. To avoid the contamination of walking through Samaria, most Jews traveled the road that traversed the Jordan River valley. That is, they went around Samaria—at least a three-day hike.

Jesus chose to walk straight south into Samaria itself—basically in the middle of the region. We do not know from the text how much time it took them. We know that Jesus did much teaching, as well as healing. Why that is important to note is that we can be sure it took longer than three days. It was not a shortcut.

Why did he do it?

He knew he was on his way to death and resurrection, and he knew he would be leaving his ministry in the hands of his tiny band of faithful followers. In his Great Commission, uttered after resurrection, Jesus told his followers to go into Samaria, and eventually into the whole world. I think Jesus wanted to show the talmidim (the Apostles and disciples) that there was nothing to fear.

While in the region, he healed lepers, again, nothing new. Except—one of them came back to Jesus and bowed to him. The man was a Samaritan, perhaps the only one of the ten who was. In any case, Jesus treated him the same as if he had been a devout Jew—or Galilean fisherman.

The reading in Jeremiah anticipates Jesus’ act by telling the Judeans carried into captivity in Babylon to make themselves at home. Be sure to contemplate verses four and seven. God takes full credit for the captivity. We know from our reading of the history of Israel and Judah that the kings and their followers were unfaithful. It was their evil choices that led them to exile.

God reminds us that He is in charge. Yes, God could stop war, famine, and cancer, but to do so would take away the very characteristic that makes us human: we have the freedom to choose between God and the Lier.

Timothy, who had traveled with Paul and learned many lessons from the experience, became the spiritual leader of the church of Ephesus. The city was nearly as Roman as Rome. It was considered the leading city of the Eastern half of the Empire. Wealth oozed from every pore.

All of that made life difficult for Christians, as it made leadership difficult for Timothy. Paul’s advice to Timothy was to live in the city as a good citizen, but never disobey the command to Love. You may be forced to pay tribute to Caesar before you can shop, but that is only money. The law may encourage people to place unwanted babies in the city dump, but that is your opportunity to love by adopting the babies into your families.

We all live in a foreign land. This earth is not my home. But I can choose to live here as if I were at home with God

 

Be righteous and do good.

Mike Lawrence

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