A Weary Saviour
John 4:1-6 MKJV Therefore when the Lord knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John (2) (though Jesus Himself did not baptize, but His disciples), (3) He left Judea and went away again into Galilee. (4) And it was necessary for Him to go through Samaria, (5) Then He came to a city of Samaria, called Sychar, near the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. (6) And Jacob's well was there. Jesus, therefore, being wearied with His journey, sat thus upon the well. It was about the sixth hour.
Jesus reacts to his popularity (making and baptizing more disciples than John) and to his fame with society in general (the Pharisees now knew this) by moving away from the action in Judea and going back up into Galilee. Jesus thus avoids a full-fledged confrontation with the religious powers of the day. He has more ministries to do and more things to teach in the peace and quite of Galilee and he did not want a storm of controversy distracting from His central message of righteousness through repentance and faith being expressed in love in the Kingdom of God.
Jesus moves away from conflict with the Pharisees to a surprising acceptance by the Samaritans – even though He was a Jew, He was now an outcast Jew, one who was also at war with the Jerusalem religious establishment as the Samaritans had been for centuries.
Jesus had to travel north to Galilee and could have gone the ‘long way around” as most Jews did but instead chose to go directly through the Samaritan towns and villages that had once been so inhospitable. (Luke 9:52-56)
Luke 9:52-56 MKJV And He sent messengers before His face. And they went and entered into a village of the Samaritans to make ready for Him. (53) And they did not receive Him, because His face was going toward Jerusalem. (54) And seeing, His disciples James and John said, Lord, do You desire that we command fire to come down from Heaven and consume them, even as Elijah did? (55) But He turned and rebuked them and said, You do not know of what spirit you are. (56) For the Son of Man has not come to destroy men's lives, but to save. And they went to another village.
(However on this occasion Jesus was traveling away from Jerusalem and so got a much better reception.)
Jesus arrives at a historically significant site that connects with the patriarchs Jacob and Joseph and He is weary. Jesus, though God, was human. In fact He often seems to be tired or to have the disciples taking care of Him. We find Jesus asleep in the boat as the disciples row hard during the storm for instance. We variously find Jesus being hungry, thirsty and weary during His ministry. Jesus was human, fully human.
The disciples served Jesus while Jesus served the world. They were his “minders” going ahead to get food, untie donkeys, arrange logistics and as advance parties into the Jewish and Samaritan towns and villages. Thus Jesus relied on others and made Himself vulnerable to their organizing ability. This is hard for some people to do who wish to micro-manage every detail themselves. Yet most successful people become successful because other people want them to be successful. A team of friend sand supporters who will care for you, pray for you and arrange things for you is an enormous asset in any ministry.
It is lunchtime (the sixth hour) and they have probably been walking since early morning, when it is coolest. It is now time to stop, eat and have a siesta and then start walking again the late afternoon. As the old song goes “Only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun…” Yet Jesus still works – even though tired He shares His faith with the Samaritan woman.
It is these ordinary weary traveling moments when we are at our most human, and often that is when we connect best with the world around us. Jesus was just a tired man exhausted by the well, rejected by the Jews, on His way back to Galilee, thirsty, human, easy for a sinner to relate to. As Paul said, “to the weak I became weak…”
1 Corinthians 9:20-23 MKJV (20) And to the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might gain the Jews. To those who are under the Law, I became as under the Law, so that I might gain those who are under the Law. (21) To those who are outside Law, I became as outside Law (not being outside law to God, but under the Law to Christ), so that I might gain those who are outside Law. (22) To the weak I became as the weak, so that I might gain the weak. I am made all things to all men, so that I might by all means save some. (23) And this I do for the sake of the gospel, so that I might be partaker of it with you.
When we pretend to be made of “stainless steel” and hide our vulnerability and discount our humanity and weakness we lose our connection to a hurting world. Jesus never pretended to be aloof from humankind, He was real - a hungry, thirsty, tired and utterly transparent Saviour.