[May 19]--Half-Breeds

2 Kings 17:24-41

People of mixed racial origin never have an easy time of it. Ask any mulatto or any other person whose parents were of different races. Usually they don’t feel completely welcome in either culture, so they have trouble fitting in anywhere. Of course, a few years ago we elected the first person of non-white origin, so maybe, just maybe, we’re starting to take some steps out of racial prejudice. I don’t think, however, that this will really signal the end of racism. It’s human nature, sinful as it is, to be fearful and hateful of people who look different from us, and no race or people group has a monopoly on this.

If you needed any proof of this, we can discuss the issue of the Samaritans. The capital of the Northern kingdom of Israel was Samaria. The nation as a whole was unfaithful to the Lord (especially once most of the godly people fled to Judah), so after sending multiple prophets (Elijah, Elishah, Amos, and Hosea), he gave them over to the Assyrian empire to be taken away in exile. Like other conquering empires, they figured that moving people from one land and transplanting them into another would stifle nationalistic discontent. Therefore, they moved most of the Israelites out of Israel, scattered them all over the empire, and brought others into the land of Israel in their place. You can see the immediate results in today’s reading.

So what eventually happened to these Samaritans? Well, you can read about them in the New Testament. Yes, it’s the same people as you read about in the Gospels. They moved away from idols, and they considered themselves the true worshipers of the Lord God. The Jews absolutely hated them as half-breed apostates from the faith, and the feelings were mutual.

How much? Well, in order to make the pilgrimage to Jerusalem (which every faithful Jew was supposed to take three times a year), they had to either go through Samaritan territory or take a long way around it. Guess which way most Jews went? The Samaritans believed that Mt. Gerazim was more holy than Jerusalem, so they routinely refused to provide food or shelter to any pilgrims heading to worship at the Jewish temple. For their part, if Jews were forced to go through Samaritan land, they would shake the dust off their feet once they got onto Jewish soil again.

So let’s take a brief look at Jesus’ encounters with them so we can see what God thought about alll this.

Luke recorded one instance in which the disciples were denied entry into a Samaritan village. The disciples wanted to call fire from heaven to destroy the offenders, but Jesus rebuked them and they went on.

When Jesus was accused by the religious leaders, they asked him "Aren't we right in saying that you are a Samaritan and demon-possessed?" In other words, they linked the two conditions together and in their minds they were basically equivalent.

Of course, the most famous Samaritan in the Bible was the woman at the well in John 4. This was one of the few places where Jesus publicly admitted that he was the Messiah. He redeemed this woman out of a sinful and self-destructive lifestyle, and used her to bring a lot of people into his Kingdom.

When he gave his final instructions to his disciples right before his Ascension, he outlined his plan to them of reaching Samaria right after the Jewish population with the Good News. And sure enough, Samaritans were among the first to be reached.

So do you think Jesus could have made it any clearer about how he views racial divisions? Or what does he think about the people whom everyone believes is just lost to the darkness? Does he see them as unreachable? Come on, what do you think?

Lord Jesus, please forgive me when I see “those” people as beyond your reach. You will not rest until the vision of Revelation 7:9-10 is fulfilled, and neither will I.

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