Jesus had to go through Samaria (John 4:4 CEB)
Sometimes things present themselves to me which I have to do. I have no choice. Doing the dishes is an example of this. Every time I do the right thing and cook my own meal I am left having to clean up after myself. I don’t necessarily want to, but they stare back at me from the sink with eyes glaring as the soap and sponge gaze longingly to do their respective jobs. Realistically, if I want to use those dishes the next day or if I want my kitchen not to reek, those dishes have to get washed. Cause and effect.
There are other times where there are different paths in front of me, different avenues of action, but I am compelled to one. My decision of which college to go to was like that. I applied to Iowa, Wartburg, and lastly Culver-Stockton. I was accepted to each of them, and so I had choices. Or so it seemed. After I made my decision, my mother told me she knew I was going to pick C-SC. Because I was who I was, there was only the illusion of choice, I never really had a chance at all.
Jesus’ journey was a bit like that. The author of John wrote “Jesus had to go through Samaria,” (after saying Jesus left Judea to go to Galilee) but that word had could be a bit misleading. There was more than one path to Galilee. He could have made the choice to take a different road. He could have avoided Judea’s most hated rival, a nation with the same historic roots as Israel/Judea who (in the early 1st-century Jewish mind) turned their back on that history. Jesus could have gone home by a different way, but he had to go to Samaria. He was obligated to do so, and what happened changed the land and broke down the barrier of a history filled with hate now centered on the one who is “truly the savior of the world.” (John 4:42 CEB)
We are no different. In making that same confession of faith, that Jesus is the savior of the world, we are pledging to change our ways of thinking. We will be obligated to do certain things. We will have to work for justice for those society rejects. We will have to reconcile those relationship tainted by grudges. We will have to welcome those who are different than us to the Table.
Of course at a cognitive level, we do have a choice. But if we are following a Savior who crosses the very boundaries we put up to keep others out and away from us, do we really?