Summary: Don’t let the past be the focus of your future.
The Way of Jesus
June 24, 2007
On Thursday, Deb and I left Luke, Ben and Emma with my parents at the Oregon coast and took off to attend a portion of our denomination’s Annual Meeting in Portland. After the meeting was over, Deb and I got back in the car to head back to our campsite and to pickup Luke, Ben and Emma.
As we were making our way out of the parking lot, Deb was giving me directions because she and many of you ladies had been at the same motel 3 years ago for Triennial. She gave excellent directing and we were on I-5 headed south, headed back into Portland. But we weren’t going fast because it was 5:00 p.m. and Portland traffic on that day anyway looked just like Seattle.
Because we were putzing along, I told Deb to chill out and to read and that I knew where to go and how to get us home.
After a while I realized that I had missed the bypass road that would have taken us around Portland and as a result I was headed right into the city of Portland during rush hour.
Over to my right I saw the big bridge with traffic flowing – the Bypass around Portland.
And there we sat on I-5, bumper to bumper.
Running through most major cities in the United States runs a highway, a major thoroughfare. The thoroughfare, the highway, the interstate is the primary way people travel to, from and through the city Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Los Angeles have I-5. Omaha has I-80, Chicago-I-90 and I-94, Minneapolis-I-94, Cleveland I-90, Phoenix-I-10. These roads often are the straightest, most direct way from point A to Point B.
But they also are quite busy and in rush hour, as I learned anew, very busy.
So as a result, cities began to construct bypass roads, roads that branch off the main highway and head around the city only to connect back up to the main highway later. The thought being that drivers could avoid all the busyness of going through town and traffic could run more smoothly.
In Jesus’ day there was one main thoroughfare between Galilee in the north and Jerusalem in the south and there was also - bypass.
This bypass was created not to avoid a certain city, but to avoid a whole region, the region of Samaria.
But in our text, Jesus who want to travel from Galilee to Jerusalem will not let himself nor his followers take the bypass.
Luke 9:51-56, p. 1611
The text tells us in v. 51, that Jesus resolutely set out for Jerusalem. And the route he chose to take was through Samaria.
The text tells us in v. 52, that messengers were sent into a Samaritan village to set things ready for him.
When the 12 heard that Jesus was dead set, purposefully, intentionally and resolutely heading South on the I-5 highway of the day from Galilee in the north to Jerusalem in the south and that he wanted to go through Samaria and not take the by-pass that every other Jew would typically take, the 12 must have thought Jesus was out of his mind.
For over 700 years whenever a Jewish person in Galilee (the north) needed to travel south to Jerusalem, the route, the road, the highway they would take intentionally, would be the bypass. Though this route, this road caused their journey to be 3 days longer, they preferred it because it meant they would not have to travel through Samaria he region between Galilee and Jerusalem.
This region was filled with, populated by Samaritans. The Samaritans were - Jews, who sold out their pure blood to join with people from other nations, were the enemy to every purebred Jew. The Samaritans were dirty, unclean, less that pure in God’s eyes or so the Jewish people thought. For 700 years generation upon generation of Jew was taught by their grandparents and parents to bypass, to take the 3-day detour around Samaria so as to not have to enter enemy territory. If one disregarded this ancient wisdom, they could be subject to being beaten, robbed and hassled until they left. And so when Jesus in v. 51 resolutely or purposely or with determination set his face toward Jerusalem and then told the 12 to get things ready for him in a Samaritan village (v. 52) they had to be thinking, What is Jesus up to now?
The text tells us that the Samaritans didn’t welcome him. There was no party for him.
Jesus no doubt expected this to be the Samaritans response. He of all people knew the hearts of the Samaritan people, but he nevertheless wanted to provide them with an opportunity to receive him. Jesus the one sent by God into this world wanted to extend himself and demonstrate his love for these people one last time; but the people rejected him. Jesus extended himself, invested himself, made himself vulnerable in order that a few could be saved.