Breaking Down Walls

Bible:

[Jesus] left Judea and departed again for Galilee. And he had to pass through Samaria. So he came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the field that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there; so Jesus, wearied as he was from his journey, was sitting beside the well. It was about the sixth hour.

A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) John 4:3-9 ESV

But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. Ephesians 2:13-18 ESV

Reflection:

Do you remember how long before the time of Jesus, the Northern Kingdom was taken captive by the Assyrian empire? They took the people away from their land and resettled other people from the empire there. These people brought all their false gods and goddesses with them, and God judged them by sending lions to kill some of them. Then the king of Assyria sent a priest who had been taken captive back to live among them and teach them about the God of Israel. They learned to worship the God of Israel, but they kept on worshiping their idols at the same time. Some years later, the Southern Kingdom was taken into captivity by the Babylonians, and when they returned from captivity and started to build their temple again, the people who had been living in the land wanted to help them, but the Jewish people wouldn’t let them help. So these people became enemies of the Jews and did all kinds of things to make trouble.

In the time of Jesus, the promised land was divided into three main parts under the Roman empire. In the south was Judea, where Jerusalem and Bethlehem were. In the north some Jewish people lived in Galilee, including Jesus for much of his life in the town of Nazareth. But between Galilee and Judea there was the land of Samaria, where these ancient enemies of the Jewish people lived. If Jews wanted to travel from Galilee to Judea, they might even take a long detour and go around Samaria rather than go through it! But Jesus traveled through Samaria, and one day he sat down by a well and asked a Samaritan woman for a drink. She could hardly believe that a Jewish man was talking to her in this friendly way!

Jesus was showing that his love was for all people, and not only Jewish people. He came to give his life on the cross so that the sins of all the people in the world could be forgiven. Jesus welcomes people who are among his chosen Jewish people, and he also welcomes those who have never heard of the true God or learned to live according to God’s ways. Jesus’ love is for all people, and we who belong to Jesus are happy to share that love with others. We see in everyone someone that the Lord loves and someone that Jesus died for, and we know that walls that divide people can come down because of the grace and love of Jesus.

Prayer:

Dear Jesus, thank you for welcoming us into your family. Help us to share your love with others. Amen.