Last week, I started discussing some of the issues of the Church with respect to how they approach and/or address sin. This is not all Christians in all situations, but it is prevalent enough that it creates a perception of the Church as a whole. It is connected to the whole idea of Christianity and drives people away from Christ.
Where I started to go with this last week was…I basically started to take a look at what Jesus did. We see WWJD bumper stickers, t-shirts, refrigerator magnets, etc. and you hear the question asked all the time…”What would Jesus do?” I think the most appropriate way to answer that is to ask a different question. “What did Jesus do?” But somehow, WDJD just doesn’t seem to have the same ring to it.
Regardless, to answer this question, we took a look at John 4:4-26 which is the beginning of the story of Jesus with the Samaritan woman that he meets at a well. I promised I’d tie this in and that’s what I’m here to do this week. So, let’s get to it.
The first thing I think needs to be noted is that this was a Samaritan woman. We all probably recognize the “Samaritan” from the parable of the “Good Samaritan.” But, through the centuries, it seems that something has been lost that really brings to light this situation. That is, the relationship betwen Jews and Samaritans.
Many people are likely unaware of this relationship. Some may know that Jews and Samaritans did not get along. But this would be a drastic understatment. Let me try to put into perspective just how much they did not get along. If a Jew and a Samaritan were walking past one another on a public road, the Jew would not even allow the shadow of the Samariton to touch him. Now, I don’t know about you, but that is some excessive hatred!
Then there is the other part of this. Not only was this a Samaritan…it was a woman! This would have been so unbelievable had it just been a Samaritan…but that it was a Samaritan woman makes this entire interaction one of the most controversial things that Jesus ever actually did. This was probably on par with Him referring to Himself as being divine. I struggle to even imagine a modern-day controversy as big as this.
Now that we’ve beat that horse to death and have a better grasp of the context of the situation, let’s take a look at how Jesus handled the situation. Did you notice, reading through the account, that long before He makes any mention of her sin, He starts off basically making polite conversation and then alludes to the idea that He is offering salvation and eternal life? Did you catch that? He offers “living water” and not condemnation.
What happens then? They go back and forth about the living water for a bit and then Jesus really does something unlikely. He asks her to go and get her husband. He gently leads her toward recognizing her sin, while simultaneously showing her that He has knowledge about her that could only have come from God. So, now she recognizes Him as a prophet. She’s getting closer, but she’s not quite there yet.
At the end of this conversation, He brings it home and proclaims to her that He is, in fact, the Messiah. And that essentially ends this interaction. But notice the way this came about. Jesus opened the door to a relationship. Then, He offered her something that she desired. Next, he pointed out where she was falling short (but did so without judgement or condemnation) and then revealed Himself as the Messiah.
Next week, we can continue going through this. Until then…
Grace, love and peace.