This morning, I was reading again the account of the woman at the well in John’s gospel account chapter 4. It runs from the beginning of the chapter through verse 23. I will take a couple of days to write out my thoughts on this. It is too long for one shot.
The first thing of note in this passage is the set of circumstances that brought it about:
Jesus knew that the pharasees had heard that he was even more popular than John Baptist, his forerunner. They were already out to get John. When the members of the ministerial alliance came out to one of his baptisms, he called them exactly what they were, snakes, vipers. Now, this one whom John said was the Messiah was gaining popularity. He would be an even greater threat to their power and wealth. They had acquired their power and wealth by misuse of God’s stewardship entrusted to them. They knew it. They intended to keep it.
On the other hand, the Lord Jesus was not out for fame or power. He had agreed to leave that behind when he was sent here. Isaiah says of him, “He will not strive, nor cry, nor lift up his voice in the streets.” So, in order to avoid certain conflict, he left the region and went back north.
But there is more here. He says a couple of times in John’s gospel that he only did what he was directed of his Father to do. Other places in scripture say that he was lead of the Spirit of God. For instance, early on, when he goes into the wilderness for forty days after his baptism, Matthew, Mark, and Luke say that it was the Holy Spirit who directed this. I think it is Mark who even says that he was driven into the wilderness by the Spirit.
This is important to me because it gives me a window into how God lead his Son during his earthly mission. It might give me some clues about God’s leading also.
So I observe that he was pushed to do something because of adverse circumstances caused by his enemies. He was lead by circumstance. He must have believed that his Father, who causes all things to work out according to his will, controls circumstances. Systematic theology even explains pretty well that God has foreordained all that comes to pass, although he does it in such as way as to leave the limited free will of man unabridged. A clear example of this is Pharaoh in Exodus charging into the parted Red Sea to his death. He did this of his own free will, uncoerced, because God had manipulated nature to make Pharaoh think that acting in a certain was was to his advantage.
Anyway, the Lord was lead by circumstances.
But, based on the other things I mentioned above, he also responded to these circumstances by the leading of the Spirit and/or because his Father told him what to do.
So circumstance and the Spirit and his Father’s direction were how he was lead here.
I have had a very few times when I knew by the Spirit what I should do. But most of the time, I am pushed by circumstance to do what seems the right thing based on what I know at the time. But I trust that, if I walk with God, these circumstances will be fences to keep me on the path.