Wednesday, 30 March 2011

The Unlikely Messenger

“Come and see the man who told me everything I have ever done. Could he be the Messiah?” (John Chapter 4 vs. 29) What a powerful message from an unlikely messenger. This is the message the Samaritan woman with dodgy past went and shared with her fellow country men and women after she had met Jesus. Wouldn’t it be nice if all Christians adopt this invitational attitude?

Just tell people your experience with Jesus and invite others to come and experience it themselves. That won’t be difficult. Would it? Except of course you haven’t really experienced anything after encountering Jesus. And in that case many would question what sort of encounter you’ve had with Jesus, bearing in mind that no one encounters Jesus and remain the same.

Two enemies whose worlds would ordinarily never connect discover at the well that they needed each other. They ended up having a mutual benefits; Jesus had the message of the kingdom being delivered to the people His people hated, and who hated them. The Samaritan woman on the other hand had her past guilt and shame gone. Yet this meeting wouldn’t have happened at all if Jesus had kept the status quo. The status quo is you are a Jew and I am a Samaritan. And we’re enemies. Jews and Samaritans don’t meet let alone talk, and if the Samaritan is a woman that is even worse. Sometimes the only way to see the glory of God is to tear down the long held rules, customs, traditions and history. In other words, we need to challenge or question the status quo. Though both Hebrews the wall that separated the Jews and the Samaritans is comparable to what in our present day separates the Israelis and the Palestine.

It is therefore quite strange that Jesus and the disciples decided to travel to the enemy territory. It’s hard to imagine that this all a chance encounter. Was Jesus up to something? His intention was to break down the “barrier” between the Jews and the Samaritans. Jesus intentionally crossed the enemy line to be the bridge between the Jews and the Samaritans. In their conversation, the Samaritan woman was quick to mention the negative (what separates them) i.e. a Jew and a Samaritan. Jesus was focused on the positive (what brings them together) i.e. both ancestors of Jacob. He then gradually hammered home his kingdom message and in the end the woman got it. The woman was surprised that Jesus knew everything about her. Even more surprised is that despite Jesus knowing all her past he still accepts her. Do you get the lesson here? Come as you are.

It must be the duty of all Christians to break down “barriers” wherever we find them. That is what our Lord Jesus did and so must we. So much opportunities and blessings are missed because we are busily erecting barriers along the lines of friendship, families, tribes, communities, and nations. I can’t do this with you because you’re of different; nationality, tribe, or a race. It’s quite surprising that some Christians can’t do anything in common because they are Evangelical, Charismatic, or Orthodox. As Christians our role is to build bridges not create barriers. For healing and peace to prevail we have to do all we can even if it entails crossing the enemy lines. Jesus shows us that we need one another. We must constantly seek to bring people together not to separate them.

The meeting of the two had profound positive effect on the Samaritan woman. In haste she forgot about the water she came to get from the well and went to town with this message “Come and see the man who told me everything I have ever done. Could he be the Messiah?” (John Chapter 4 vs.29). Was she not the same woman who has been ostracized and shunned from society? Before she met Jesus she couldn’t even come to the well to get water with her peers for fear of ridicule let alone have conversation in public. After she met Jesus all her guilt, shame and fear are gone. She could now stand in public and talk about the Messiah. Indeed no one encounters Jesus and remain the same.

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