Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Woman at the well-2

In John 4, the Lord “must needs go through Samaria” on his way back to Galilee in the North. But, in fact, he really didn’t need to go this way. Customarily, Jews went around Samaria to go north because they considered the Samarians inferior.

They were, in a sense. They were descendants of Jews who had been left in the Northern Kingdom by the Assyrians in 722 b.c. The Assyrians had move in pagans from other lands they had conquered, and these Jews had intermarried with them. They had also taught them the way of the God of Israel after a fashion, but the new arrivals also kept worshipping their pagan gods. This was the source of a patchwork kind of religion in Samaria.

But it was necessary for him to go through Samaria so that he could encounter this woman, and thus bring the Gospel to these people. But this was just not done.

Lesson one: Doing the will of God sometimes takes me where I otherwise have no business.

Here is an interesting thing. It says he was wearied by the journey and sat thus on the well. The way he sat, he just looked exhausted. The word “wearied” interested me. It is from a word that means “cut down” like grain is cut down with a sickle. He was “cut down” by the difficulty of the journey. When the woman saw him, he looked like had been cut down.

Lesson two: The Scripture indicates that Christ, during his earthly sojourn, identified with our day to day suffering. How many times have I felt cut down by -- well just stuff. Right now I am saying a good-bye to a hope I have cherished for a while. But it will not happen; another in a line of beloved people to whom I have had to say good-bye in some sense: people who died, or moved away, or something else. And here is another one. And I feel like the stalk-left-standing of freshly sickled grain, standing in the hot sun, drying out, oozing sadness.

Well, so what happened to him. A nice lady of questionable reputation came and gave him some water. And this led to one of the most notable presentations of the Gospel Message in John’s book. That is for another day.

But here, when Christ came into the world as a man, he encountered the daily difficulties and unpleasantries that march against us every-day earth dwellers. And in the process of his doing of his Father’s will, these things wore him down, cut him down.

So much for a mythical, surreal, storybook type of Christianity where everyone gets saved and lives happily everafter, lives “the abundant life” and goes from day to day “having the victory!” Sometimes this is the way Christianity is presented. And there are times of unspeakable joy, and times of great enjoyment in fellowship with God. But the idea that it is always this way is hokey.

What is not hokey is that the world is fallen, not as God made it. And that, thanks to people like me, it is a mess. But that God is working to redeem it and to restore all things in such a way that His Son, Jesus Christ, will be glorified by all redeemed mankind and that in this, God will be glorified.

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