Despite all the pressures from the powers that be, I’m not going to make a retraction concerning last week’s message. I am, however, willing to make a correction—I will broaden my explanation of the come to Jesus moment so that I do not come across as a heretic.
Yes, people have a come to Jesus moment. But people don’t just come to Jesus on their own…they don’t get to plan it on their terms…they don’t even get to turn a corner and stumble upon Jesus as he’s bent down to tie his sandals.
Today’s Scripture will help me expanding or correcting last week’s mistakes. This week, I’m going to use four points again to show the principles of how the Kingdom operates.
First, Jesus intentionally approaches people on their own terms—where they are at. Look at verse four, “Now [Jesus] had to go through Samaria.” Why had? Yes, traveling through Samaria was the most common route that Jews took from Judea to Galilee. But there were other routes. Jesus doesn’t have to do anything! There are plenty examples in Scripture where people try and compel Jesus and he rebukes them.
Really, there is only one have or must that Jesus continually talks about throughout his whole life here on Earth. Do you remember what it is? Look at verse 34. Jesus says consistently in his ministry that he must do the will of his Father and that he was sent to complete my Father’s work.
Why did Jesus have to go to Samaria? His Father willed it because there was work to be done at a well. Jesus intentionally approaches people where they are at.
Second, Jesus sees something special/different in people. I instantly think of Waterdeep’s “Everyone’s Beautiful” and Stevie Wonder’s “Isn’t She Lovely.” “For God so loved the world (each and every one of us) that He gave His one and only Son” to save us from self-destruction.
This woman Jesus had to meet at the well was a Samaritan. There is no naming this person…there is no notoriety like Nicodemus. She is just a woman. Women were not considered the equals of me back then…most rabbis taught that girls should not even receive a religious/literate education. Worse than a Jewish woman, though, this woman was a Samaritan woman. To the Jewish mind and heart, Samaritans were bad. They were worse than your typical Gentile. Why? Because they had once known the truth of God and had allowed it to be watered down, misinterpreted, until whatever religion they practiced was an abomination to Yahweh.
All this is why the woman (and then later the disciples) is so surprised that Jesus is having anything to do with her let alone talking to her and asking to drink from her jar (he would be unclean).
Yet, this woman was (more than likely) even an outcast in her own society. Women usually went to get water in the morning or evening because it was cooler and it made sense concerning the purposes for the water. Women also travelled in groups—safety in numbers. None of this applies to this woman…alone at mid-day. But the Father and the Son knew the time, the place, and the person—a divine appointment. Jesus saw something beautiful and lovely in this woman.
Third, Jesus names the core of our brokenness and offers us healing. The conversation these two people have is so interesting. She’s evasive. Jesus is cryptic. It is a lot like the conversation Jesus and Nicodemus had—Jesus is talking about eternal truths but the woman is focused on the Earthly realities. But, out of the blue, Jesus calls her out on her specific immorality. She starts to have a clue and talks about the future Messiah. Then he clearly tells her he is the Messiah of God.
Fourth, each person must respond to Jesus visitation and offer. She believes—she doesn’t say a sinner’s prayer, though. She’s joyful! She runs back into town—the town that considers her an outcast—and tells them to come and see the Messiah. He knows all about my bad life and has offered me eternal life. The town comes out, hears Jesus, asks him to stay, and he does—for two more days. Jesus had a divine appointment with that whole town…and they believed.
It is difficult to not see the disparity between the Samaritan Woman and Nicodemus. The un-named, poor, uneducated, clearly sinful, outcast, foreigner woman compared to the named, wealthy, educated, apparently holy, honored/revered, Jewish man. They both needed Jesus more than they could comprehend. And Jesus loved them both.
I’ve been thinking: when Jesus shows up…all these things that the world tells us we are or that we convince ourselves we are or what we tell others they are: status, wealth, education, morality level, race, gender, or whatever: all these things are pierced and put aside. When we are visited by God, we are shown our brokenness and need of Him, we are offered His love and healing, and we must choose.
This week I have not been able to escape the disparity between Deputy Micah Flick and the killer and thief who shot him. I am sure his name has been released, but I haven’t bothered to know it. Deputy Flick was such an outstanding man trying to make the world a better place—a hero—and this other was the opposite, making the world a worse place. But…they both needed Jesus more than they could comprehend. And Jesus loved them both.
I kept thinking: there were two funerals this week. One was a celebration of a man’s life and the public lined up to support the Flick family. The second funeral was not publicized, probably conducted in secret, and I’m sure there was fear and shame there. Both families were heartbroken. Jesus was at both.
The love of the God who has claimed us as His own and Whom we serve is amazing beyond all comprehension. May I—may We—learn to live it out more and more in this new life we have been given. Amen.