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Chapter 5 — Jesus goes to Samaria and Nazareth

When the Spring Holy Days were ended, Jesus went on into Judea. More people were now following Jesus than had followed John the Baptist. When the Pharisees heard this, they made an issue of the fact that Jesus had taken His first disciples from among those who had originally been following John. Jesus turned northward toward Galilee, perhaps to avoid friction with John's converts (John 4:1-3).


The woman at the well

Along the way, He had to pass through Samaria. The disciples, striding along with Him, murmured their disapproval. The Jews despised the Samaritans because they were descendants of people who had been moved into the land by the Assyrians centuries before. These people practiced the religion that Jeroboam had introduced to northern Israel, causing them to sin (II Kings 17:26-29, 32-34).

The road that Jesus chose to travel brought them to Sychar. They stopped to rest beside Jacob's well, in the very field that Jacob had given to Joseph. Deciding to go on into the village to buy food, the disciples left Jesus sitting in the shade of a sycamore tree near the well (John 4:6, 8).

When they returned, the disciples were amazed to see that Jesus was talking to a Samaritan woman. She had come to fill a water jar at the well and Jesus had struck up a conversation. He had carefully brought their exchange of words to the subject of the Kingdom of God and she became convinced that He was the Messiah.

Wanting to share the exciting news, she left her water jar and hurried back to tell her relatives and friends. Through her efforts, other Samaritans of Sychar became interested in the message He brought about God's government. They urged Him to remain in their village, and Jesus and His disciples stayed two days. Many of the people believed that He was sent from God (verses 41-42).


Healing the nobleman's son

Jesus traveled on into Galilee to preach the Gospel. When He came to Cana, where He had changed water into wine, a nobleman who lived in Capernaum approached Him with an air of urgency.

"Please, sir, help me!" the official pleaded. "My son is dying! Come to my house and heal him or he'll not live through the day" (verse 47).

Jesus did not reply at once. He looked into the distraught face. "If I don't do miracles, you won't believe my message," He replied with a slight shake of His head.

"Sir, come with me before my child dies." The officer's voice broke with emotion.

Jesus gently laid a hand on the man's sagging shoulder. "Go home, friend. Your son will live. He'll be well by the time you get back to him."

The man's face changed as hope came into his eyes. "Thank you! Thank you very much!"

On the road back to Capernaum, the official met his servants. They were on their way to find him to explain that there was no need to bother the Prophet, Jesus, because the boy had recovered. By questioning his servants further, the official learned that the boy had begun to heal at precisely the time he had talked with Jesus. "It is a miracle!" declared the man. "A miracle!"


A hometown welcome

Jesus moved on to His hometown of Nazareth, where He stayed in His mother's home. When it was time to go to the synagogue on the Sabbath Day, Jesus had already discerned an attitude of hostility against Him.

The arrival of Jesus at the synagogue caused whispered comments and turning of heads. The leaders asked Jesus to read from the scrolls and He stepped forward without hesitation. As He glanced about the small building He saw the familiar faces of people He had known during the days of His youth. But He had become the most discussed person in all of Judea and Galilee and the faces were not friendly or smiling. The atmosphere was charged with satanic influence.

Glancing down, Jesus saw that the Isaiah scroll was rolled to the words, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me. He anointed me to preach good tidings to the poor." Smiling, He began to read aloud in a voice that projected to the farthest corners of the building. When He had finished, He sat down and explained this scripture in His own words (Luke 4:21). He declared that He had come to fulfill the prophet's writings. He said that today they were eyewitnesses to the appearance of the very God of Israel in their midst, witnesses to an announcement that He was going to set up His Father's government on earth.

As He continued to speak, hostile murmurings broke out here and there. "I don't expect you to believe me," He said candidly. "A prophet is never accepted in his own area."

Concluding with examples of God's goodness to all nations in addition to the Jews, He said, "There were many lepers in Israel in the days of the prophet Elisha, but none was healed except the Syrian Naaman" (verse 27).

The mention of the Syrian's name roused action. Enraged, everyone in the congregation rushed to the front, seized Jesus and hustled Him down the aisle and out of the building.

The mob leaders rushed Jesus to the top of the winding street. The street ended in a precipice that overlooked a gorge below Nazareth. They intended to pitch Jesus over the edge to His death, but watchful angels caused the men to become confused. They released their intended victim, and failed to notice when He passed through their midst.

When Jesus rejoined His disciples, He greeted them cheerfully. "Come along, fellows. We'll go on down to Capernaum. The atmosphere will be more pleasant there."