True Love: Valentine's Week Devotionals
True Love: Valentine’s Week Devotionals
“Now he had to go through Samaria.” – John 4:4
Ahh yes, it’s that time again, Valentines week. Such joy, such despair, such nauseating amounts of pink and red. In my experience, you either love this day or you hate it, there’s generally not a whole lot of emotional space in-between. However you feel about this Hallmark- bathed holiday the story of its roots is quite fascinating and compelling.
St. Valentine lived during the rule of Roman Emperor Claudius who was known for persecuting the church. During his reign he passed an edict that strictly prohibited the marriage of young people. The notion being that married soldiers tended to perform less valiantly on the battlefield than solders that were single. Marriage, regarded by the church as a sacred practice, had to be defended. One priest in particular took a stand against the edict and performed secret nuptials. He was eventually discovered and sentenced to a rather horrific three-pronged death sentence involving beating, stoning, and finally decapitation.
This is the kind of love we should be celebrating. Not just some fluffy diluted version of the real thing that we see paraded all over our television screens. But the authentic and true kind; the one that costs as something. The only type of love that has the power to change and transform.
So I’d like to look more closely at that love; the love that Jesus modeled. Wherever you are this Valentines Day; single, married, newly divorced and broken hearted, I hope these devotionals speak to you in some small way.
John 4:1-26 will serve as our text for all of our devotional content. Let’s begin by reading the first eight verses.
Speaking of love, I have a love affair with this story. I am drawn back to it over and over again for all different manner of reasons.
Where I’d like to land today is verse 4, “Now he had to go through Samaria.”
This is not actually a factual statement. What you must first know is that Jews hated the Samaritans, totally and completely abhorred and despised them. Their hate for one another stretched back hundreds of years earlier to when the Samaritans defiled the purity of Israel’s worship with idolatry and pagan gods. The conflict reached its boiling point about twenty years before Jesus’ ministry when the Samaritans scattered human bones in the courtyard of the temple during Passover. Interestingly enough both people groups worship the same God, zealously at that, however their discord centered around the question of where God centered His worship. This background will help us now, but especially as we move forward in the text.
So when Jews had to travel from Judea to Galilee like Jesus had traveled they took the more circuitous route around Samaria versus the much more practical and direct route. Extra effort, but in their minds the additional mileage was worth it to avoid their detested adversary. So when Jesus says, “I have to go through Samaria” he’s speaking entirely about a part of the story that His Father is having him write. The setting takes place in Samaria and the main character is about as surprising as they come, a sinful SAMARITAN WOMAN.
You see Jesus’ love for this woman compels him to go to a land no other Jew will set foot in. And friends, our love should do the same. I am the first to admit I’d rather circumnavigate friendships that make me feel uncomfortable, people that drive me crazy, and circumstances that make my skin crawl. Especially when those things press on me where it hurts the most. But what we learn from Jesus is, our love must lead us through what we’d rather go around. That woman needs Jesus and in some ways Jesus needs her. She needs to drink the living water He will offer her. And he needs to offer it to her, further proving that the love of God extends to the least of these. Indeed, he did have to go through Samaria. And although we may not always see the reasons for the trek through our metaphorical Samaria, it often leads us to the very same kind of water Jesus offered to the woman that day.
So today, what is your Samaria? And how might God be calling you to go through it instead of around it? As you answer this, know I am wrestling with that question right alongside of you.