Passing Through Samaria
( Originally Published 1915 )
AFTER MOST of those who were going up to Jerusalem for the Feast of Tents had left Capernaum, Jesus began his journey with his disciples. All who saw him going toward Jerusalem, and even his disciples, thought that now he was surely on his way to take his throne and rule the people as king of Israel.
Just as they were starting, a man who was one of the teachers of the law came to Jesus and said:
"Master, I will follow you wherever you may go." He thought that by following Jesus he might have some high place in his kingdom. But Jesus saw that this man was following him only for gain. He said to him :
"You will gain nothing by following me. The foxes have holes, and the wild birds have their nests; but the Son of Man has not a place where he can lay his head."
To another man, Jesus said, "Follow me!" The man answered, "First let me go and bury my father."
Jesus said to this man, "Let those who are dead bury their dead; but do you go and spread everywhere the news of the kingdom of God."
Jesus meant by this that such matters as the burial of the dead could be cared for by others, even though they did not have a knowledge of the truth which gives life; but Jesus wanted this man to go at once and preach his gospel.
There was another man who said to Jesus, "I will follow you; but let me first go and say `good-bye' to my friends at my home."
Whoever looks back," answered Jesus, "after he has put his hand to the plough is of no use for the kingdom of God."
For his work Jesus wanted men who were single-hearted, giving up all, that they might follow and serve him.
On this journey to Jerusalem Jesus did not take the road down the Jordan valley, the way usually followed. He made up his mind this time to go through Samaria, perhaps because he did not wish to have a crowd of people with him, and few of the Jews went to Jerusalem by way of Samaria.
As he drew near a Samaritan village, he sent some of his disciples to find in it a lodging place. But the Samaritan people would not allow Jesus and his disciples to come into their village, because they saw that they were Jews on their way to Jerusalem. The Samaritans and the Jews hated each other and would not show kindness to one another.
James and John, two of the disciples, were exceedingly angry at these people, who would shut out their Master. They said to him:
"Lord, shall we call down fire from heaven, as the prophet Elijah did, and burn up that wicked village?"
But Jesus said to them, "Your spirit is not right. I did not come to destroy the lives of men, but to save them. Let us go to some other village."
While he was still on the border of Galilee and Samaria, as he was going into a village, he met ten men who had the terrible disease of leprosy. They stood at a distance, for lepers were not allowed to come near people; and they cried aloud, saying:
"Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!"
"Go," answered Jesus, "and show yourselves to the priests."
In the Temple was a room where a man went who had any disease like leprosy, with a breaking out upon his skin. At this room he was kept for a time; and if it was found that his disease was not leprosy, after certain offerings and washings, he was allowed to go home and be among men. These men started for their Temple; those who were Jews for the Temple in Jerusalem, any that were Samaritans for their Temple on Mount Gerizim, near the city of Shechem. As they went, and by going showed their faith in Jesus, they found all at once that their leprosy was gone and they were entirely well.
Nine of these ten men, after they were cured, went on their way toward the Temple. But one of them, when he found that he was a leper no longer, stopped, with a loud voice praised God; and ran to Jesus' feet and fell on his face before him, giving him thanks for his cure. This man was a Samaritan.
"Were there not ten men cured?" said Jesus. "But where are the nine? Was there only one to turn back and give thanks to God, and that one a stranger?"
And Jesus said to this grateful Samaritan, "Rise up, and go your way; your faith has made you well."