Wednesday, February 03, 2010

The Living Water Part 3 (Jn. 4:19-34)

John 4:19-34

The woman knew Jesus was no ordinary man when He told her the detail of her life. She tried to divert the conversation but Jesus brought always brought the conversation back to the root issue. She diverted again to their religious differences when Jesus exposed her personal life. She indicated that the Samaritans had their own views and likewise Jewish had their own beliefs. you Jews have your own beliefs. Jews believed they must worship in Jerusalem but the Samaritans worshiped on the mountains.

Jesus answered her in a very different way. Samaritan woman’s view is dualistic, it is ‘either-or’. When coming to the crossroad, we tend to have an either-or mentality. To the Samaritan woman, either they followed the Jewish way or just did it their own way. Prophet Elijah had never been to Jerusalem but God listened to his prayer. Isn’t that the arrogance of the Jews to insist that worship must be in Jerusalem? In the Old Testament, Moses represented the law and Elijah represented the prophets. Isaiah and Jeremiah wrote so much yet Elijah as the representation of the prophets never wrote a single book. Elijah had never been to Jerusalem, and he lived where the Samaritans were worshiping. So are the Samaritans wrong?

Jesus’ reply to the woman was not ‘either-or’, but ‘neither-nor’. Jesus replied that the time is coming come and has come when the worshipers of God will neither worship in mountain nor in Jerusalem, but they will worship in spirit and in truth (Jn. 4:21-23). This worship transcends the boundary of space and time. In matter of worship, we should not confuse with tradition and human boundaries. Further, true religion must be based on the truth, not just sincerity. Sincerity does not represent the truth. Many people are faithful to what they consider the truth which is actually not the truth.

Apart from ‘neither-nor’ concept, Jesus also spoke about ‘already and not yet’ concept. He said the time is coming and has now come. Jesus has come the first time, so the kingdom of God has indeed come. And Jesus has not come the second time, so the kingdom of God is yet to come. Between first and second coming is the ‘now and not yet’ realm in which we are now living. The kingdom indeed has come but has not yet reached its fullness. Why did explain such profound concept to this woman despised by the society? Her problem was not so much her understanding as it was her flesh.

On one hand, Jesus gave her the most important truth, on the other hand He exposed her decadent life. Jesus did not despise her just because of her low social status. In the prostitute Jesus saw His grace and gave her hope. He waited personally for her and led her towards the truth.

After Jesus explained this, she diverted the topic again. Whenever she was about to understand, she always changed the topic. Jesus would corner her and brought her back to the topic.

A paradox we often neglect is that we always thinks of ideal and looks towards the future but on the other hand we forget that this future is really coming to pass and in our waiting process we reveal our laziness and skepticism. We preserve our lofty ideals but think it is so far away, so time passes by and we accomplish nothing. Do we really believe? We wait and we do not think it will be today so we do nothing. For example, we believe that one day we will die and face the judgement of God, but we just do not think it will happen today. Somehow we subconsciously think tomorrow will come tomorrow but tomorrow will never become today. If we truly believe that tomorrow will one day become today, we will live with deep consciousness of the future and live circumspectly today in view of what we believe tomorrow will be.

Christian religion is realised within the domain of space and time which is verifiable in history, unlike myths with its unverifiable ‘once upon a time’. Jesus is God and eternal but He became incarnate and was born within time and space. But when we worship God in spirit and in truth and accept Jesus as Lord and Savior, our worship and acceptance of Him transcends time and space. This worship has eternal value. With eternal faith, we accept the historical facts of Christ which happened within time and space. So Jesus explained that God is Spirit, not confined withint time and space, hence we have to worship Him in spirit and in truth (Jn. 4:24).

When woman heard that, for the very last time she tried to divert the conversation again. Jesus would not let her go. She said, “I know that the Messiah is coming and when He come He will explain everything to us.” (Jn. 4;25) She meant that there was no point debating. She had her own culture and the Jews had theirs, so just wait for the Messiah to come and let the debate finish there and then. But when would the Messiah come? She could not tell. So it was one way to escape the conversation.

Jesus declared to her, “I who speak to you am He.” (Jn. 4:26). Are we really looking for the Messiah or are we just trying to excuse ourselves? But Jesus made that last statement to challenge her. The visit of Christ terminates all religious searches.

At that moment she pondered. If He was not the Messiah, how could He know about her past? She thought the Messiah had not come, but He declared He was already here speaking to her. When she heard this, she left behind her water jar. It indicates a change of mind where she no longer cares as much about her physical needs because all her spiritual filth had been discovered.

The disciples came back and wondered why He was talking to a woman. They did not dare to ask him. Neither do they dare to ask what they spoke in broad day light. The disciples were puzzled because they were asked to go and buy food whilst He spoke to a woman, and now He was not eating. Jesus replied, “my food is to do the will of Him who sent me and finish His work.” (Jn. 4:34) Physical food is not the most important but to fulfil the will of heaven is the most important food.

All the tactics of this intelligent woman did not work because Jesus could scan through her heart. There is penetrating power in the gospel. Only then you can lead a person to the gospel.

Upon repentance, the woman immediately evangelised. She did not wait and understood the significance of that existential moment. The time is now. She immediately went and preached. The woman ran back and called out to the people in town, “There is a man who tells me all my past deeds. Could he be the Christ?” (Jn. 4:29). Whit that simple sentence, all the people in the town came forward to meet Jesus. Why did these people come forward? It was because there was honest repentance and she declared to everyone how she lived, encouraged people to become curious about Jesus. This is the right way to evangelise. Many people who preach want people to see how great they are and cover all their sins. On the other hand the Samaritan spoke as a sinner and urged others to come and see Christ for who He is. There is honesty, courage, sincerity and power in her preaching.

After this conversation with Jesus, her entire life has been transformed. She was once a prostitute, now a preacher focused on God’s kingdom. We certainly should not despise those who are rejected by society or those who seem to have no achievement. Whatever men see as useless, God can use mightily.


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