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By Carl Heinrich Bloch ( [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

But He needed to go through Samaria. - John 4:4 NKJV

This is a fascinating verse. My standard NASB does not do it justice, at least in my uneducated and non-scholarly opinion.

And He had to pass through Samaria. - John 4:4 NASB

The problem is in the little phrase “had to.”

Other translations give us:

It was necessary for Him to go through Samaria. AMP
And he must needs go through Samaria. KJV
and it was behoving him to go through Samaria. YLT

Honestly, most translations go with “had to” but that is so weak, and does not seem to bring the full import of the idea in the original.

[Standard Disclaimer] Now, I will say what I have said many times before – I am not a scholar – just a student with some resources – and I understand that I don’t understand. I am not expert in original languages. I don’t speak Greek, nor could I tell you how different Greek is from Aramaic. So – buyer beware…. [End Disclaimer]

Thayer’s Greek Lexicon[i] has some fascinating definitions for this word.

The one he applies to this text is:

“Necessity brought on by circumstances or by the conduct of others toward us.”

But check out some of these other renditions:

“Necessity in reference to what is required to attain some end.”

“Necessity of law and command, of duty, equity”

And here is the one that I love:

“Necessity established by the counsel and decree of God, esp. by that purpose of His which relates to the salvation of men by the intervention of Christ and which is disclosed in the O.T. prophecies.”

As in:

"How then will the Scriptures be fulfilled, which say that it must happen this way?" - Matthew 26:54 NASB

In fact – Thayer points out that there is a Greek synonym for the “necessity” word, which suggests the necessity, arises from circumstance. The word John used here implies “moral obligation which arises from divine appointment.”

TMI? – sorry.

Here’s the thing. Most Jews didn’t go through Samaria to travel between Galilee and Jerusalem. They would take a thirty-mile detour to skirt the region. They would add a day and a half to their journey just to avoid getting Samaritan dust on their sandals. So strong was their prejudice and deep their hatred for the Samaritans they would cross the Jordan twice to avoid contamination. As I understand it by the year 66 AD (about 35 years later) the Jews declared all Samaritans unclean and prohibited them even from the outer courts of the temple, where even the 'gentile dogs' were permitted.

If Jesus were a ‘good Jew’ the text should read, “It was necessary for Him to avoid Samaria.

Why then, was it necessary for Jesus to go through Samaria?

Come back next time and find out.

Ben NelsonThanks for stopping by today.

Walk with the King today.



[i] "Greek Lexicon :: G1163 (NASB)." Blue Letter Bible. Accessed 1 Jul, 2014.

River of Living Water

The woman said to Him, “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet.” (John 4:19 NASB)

Yesterday we heard Jesus call to a place deep inside this Samaritan woman with the words “Go, call your husband, and come here.” With that request, He was able to break through her confusion about Living Water.

However, He also managed to flip the switch on her religion vocab.

You had me intrigued with this talk of living water, but now you want to talk religion, well, I am ready. Bring it on. If you want to talk about religion let’s talk about it. Who are you Jews to tell us how to worship?

Jesus’ penetrating words touched a hurt and triggered a defensive lockdown.

Setting up barricades to guard your wounds.

Rather than deal with her chronic relational issues, this daughter of Samaria brings up an age-old argument, that goes back to the great national divorce, when Rehoboam and Jeroboam divided the nation.

She puts her defense up and talks about where they ought to worship.

“Our fathers worshiped in this mountain, and you people say that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.” (vs 20)

It’s like a Pentecostal and an Evangelical arguing about whether it is necessary to raise hands during worship, rather than dealing with the sin of pride separating them. (Sorry – forgive me my tiny little rant please.)

Next week we will talk in detail about what Jesus says about worship.

Today I have a simple question for you.

What defenses are you using to hide from Jesus? When Jesus probes your life, looking to heal and deliver you from your pain, are you throwing up walls?

You and I need to let the Great Physician heal the things that hurt when He pokes them.

Don’t resist today. Don’t act all religious to cover your pain. Let Him bring beauty from the ashes of disaster in your life.

BenThanks for coming by.

See you next week.


River of Living Water

He said to her, "Go, call your husband, and come here." (John 4:16 NASB)

Just what she did not want to hear?

This unsuspecting Samaritan woman comes to the well, as she has done for decades, to draw water for her household.

She had been chatting with this foreigner, this Jewish man for a few minutes now, and He was hitting her with some metaphors that she was just not picking up on.

Time to bring it – Jesus looks her in the eye and hears the voice of the Spirit whisper – tell her to call her husband.


Time out for a brief theology moment

You might be thinking, Jesus knew this woman’s past because He is God, and you would be wrong.

Jesus knew this woman’s past because He was flowing in the River of Living Water (the Holy Spirit) the same way you or I can know things in Him.

Jesus said this:

For I did not speak on My own initiative, but the Father Himself who sent Me has given Me commandment, what to say, and what to speak. And I know that His commandment is eternal life; therefore the things I speak, I speak just as the Father has told Me. (John 12:49-50 NASB)

Now back to our regularly scheduled blog


So they had been bantering back and forth about this Living Water metaphor, when Jesus brings it out of the theoretical imagination she was toying with [Hey – if no one gets thirsty then I don’t have to drag this pitcher back and forth from here to there every day] directly to where her particular bucket was leaking.

She had a busted relationship bucket. She had a God given longing for intimacy which she was trying to draw from the wrong well. She just didn’t seem to be able to get this thing right.

Five broken vows and now life with no promise at all.

But up walks this Jew from Nazareth and she can taste the hope dawning, just beyond the horizon. [Tweet This]

Is your bucket leaking today?

There is a source that can satisfy every longing of your heart.

But it might just get a little uncomfortable because all the leaks will be exposed before they can be repaired.

Are you ready for living water? (even if it hurts at first?)

BenCome and Drink Today!

See ya,



River of Living Water

The Samaritan woman therefore said to Him, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask me for a drink since I am a Samaritan woman?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.)

Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.” (John 4:9-10 NASB)

Are you asking the right questions?

One thing I love about Jesus, He never get’s cornered by a question. More than once in the gospels we see His accusers ask Him a question and He turns the tables and asks them a question that confounds them.

For instance:

And they questioned Him, saying, “Teacher, we know that You speak and teach correctly, and You are not partial to any, but teach the way of God in truth. Is it lawful for us to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?”

But He detected their trickery and said to them,

Show Me a denarius. Whose likeness and inscription does it have?

And they said, “Caesar’s.”

And He said to them, “Then render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.” (Luke 20:21-25 NASB)

Now I have talked about this one before in my post “Render unto Caesar” so I won’t deconstruct this now, but suffice it to say, you could not put Jesus in a corner with a question.

Here however, I don’t think the woman is trying to stump Jesus, she just is confused and does not know what to say, so she kind of thinks out loud.

But Jesus takes her to the right question.

Have you ever been in a place where you were confused and didn’t even know where to start?

Jesus can lead you to the right question. [Tweet This]

James tells us

But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. (James 1:5 NASB)

Not sure what’s next?


BenHope that helps.

See you tomorrow


River of Living Water

I want to spend a few days pondering the encounter Jesus had with the Samaritan woman He met at the well.

And He had to pass through Samaria. So He came to a city of Samaria, called Sychar, near the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph; and Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied from His journey, was sitting thus by the well. It was about the sixth hour. There came a woman of Samaria to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give Me a drink.” (John 4:4-7 NASB)

Many of you know the story. Jesus and the boys were on their way from Jerusalem, in the south, back up north to their stomping grounds in the region of Galilee.

Most good Jews of the day, I am told, making the same trip, would take the long way around and avoid Samaria because Jews, as a rule, hated the Samaritans.

Here are some of the rules Jesus broke in this phrase “Give Me a drink.”

  • Jewish men did not go through Samaria
  • Jewish men did not speak to Samaritans
  • Jewish men did not address women they did not know.
  • Jewish men did not skip lunch.

This is the kind of thing that made the Pharisees so angry with Him. He was always breaking with tradition and ignoring their religious ways.

I am convinced that Jesus came through Samaria specifically for this woman. The reason He did not skirt the area and avoid the region was He had a divine appointment with a woman.

Most men who saw this woman saw – well what did they see?

She was on her sixth man.

Was it bad choices – addicted to the wrong kind of man?

Was she impossible to live with?

Was she a dangerous cook?

What was the problem?

I love that Jesus does not go there at all. He saw, not her problem, but her need. She needed living water, a fountain of life bubbling up in her soul to break this cycle of spiritual and relational death. [Tweet This]

Do you need a drink from this well? Come to Jesus today and drink freely of the water of life. If so, call someone you know to be a Christian, or check out this post (Do You Have Security? Wheat and Tares – Part 7) and you will learn how.

Do you see places you can offer the water that is bubbling up out of you? Put down your prejudices and let it flow!

BenThanks for stopping in today.

See you tomorrow.


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