Ever heard of the statement: ‘Leave that one alone, I cannot pursue them since I’ve given up on doing it’? This is not only used by friends or family members but it’s a common statement among believers (followers of Christ). We, believers have not only said it but have gone ahead to live it. Is this the way we ought to do it?
In John 4, Jesus and his disciples are en-route to Galilee from Judea when He decided to take a break at Sychar in Samaria while his disciples went to a nearby town to fetch food. He was tired the Bible says. There was an ancient well that once belonged to Jacob which was next to where he was. What travails there demonstrates that the market was quite a distance since it was time enough for an evangelism to take occurrence.
A Samaritan woman came to fetch water and Jesus borrowed her some. She was able to detect may be from skin complexion or dress code or whatever it was that this was a Jew ASKING for assistance. This gesture by Jesus must have sounded sarcastic to the woman. I am Samaritan and a woman for that matter. ‘You Jews have nothing to do with us.’ This is different from the statement we have nothing to do with each other. It seems this trend was initialized by the Jews. Who were the Samaritans? They were a breed of individuals tracing their genesis from intermarriage between ‘BACKSLIDDEN’ Jews and pagans. They believed in Torah only hence disregarded other Jewish prophets. This called for the hatred by Jews. Pork would have been a better option to deal with than a Samaritan argues one historian. The hatred that Jews had was greater than the one they had for pagans. Jesus must have dined at the feet of the teachers of law and had them reference these people and so in having this conversation with her, he was conscious and aware of the attitude.
The conversation is worked through to a point that Jesus reveals his identity in verse 26. Suddenly, the disciples check in. Another lot of Jews who are enrolled in the school of Christ- hence they were still learning. Joh 4:27 … At that point the disciples came back, and they were surprised to see him talking to a woman; but not one of them said to him, what is your purpose? Or, why are you talking to her? Why the surprise? My guess is that she is a woman, a Samaritan woman (and may be a Samaritan woman who was popular with husband snatching). Concentration on the first two, it demonstrates how Jews detested Samaritans. No wonder when later on Jesus gives the parable of the Good Samaritan they get pissed off. What is the purpose of the conversation? One enquired. I thought to myself: could it be that she was a kind of a prostitute and may be they thought that Jesus was in need of her services? Or were they asking that to indirectly inform him of her character? Or were they reminding him of who he is (a Jew) and WHAT, not who, she is (Samaritan)?
She rushes home and calls her tribes men to come and be witness to the good news. In her absentia Jesus converses with his disciples who are calling on him to have food, an offer he declines so as to bring clarity on the very intentions of his coming. I want to think that they had more questions even if they are not recorded for us. Finally he tells them: Joh 4:34 Jesus said to them, my food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to finish His work. This work is what is stated in the previous chapter: Joh 3:16-17… For God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but so that the world might be saved through Him. If this be the case, he was ready to take any given opportunity to even that of waiting for the woman to resume with the crowd as well as tarrying in Samaria- the hated region and its people- for two days.
He not only liberated the Samaritans by giving them the living water but by also reminding them that the Jews were not perfect and were in dire need of redemption too. The true worshippers must worship in spirit and in truth which means the invitation was extended to them too, yes to all of us. What Jews had was half the truth. Look at it this way, Israelites from Exodus to Malachi are a clear demonstration of a people who often failed to meet the standards of God in monotheistic worship, social justices and so on. Yet at no moment did God gave up on them and never failed to pursue them. Often times he punished them but that does not translate to giving up. He followed them. What of us (Sembuse sisi)? He continued to love them. Jesus was occasionally seen with them whom the religious men of the time could not associate with yet in need of grace. He gave the tax collectors, thieves, Samaritans, prostitutes, and us all a sense of living, a purpose and an assurance of forgiveness. Mark you I am not saying we go to pubs and brothels- Jesus did not get them there but in open spaces. However, we must be deliberate in reaching out.
In his commissioning, Jesus sends us, his believers and followers, to all the world. He is quite aware that we live in fallen world and as such must be deliberate and wise in executing out the mandate. We do not leave them out. We are beneficiaries of his promise in Acts of Apostles…1:8…But you shall receive power, the Holy Spirit coming upon you. And you shall be witnesses to me both in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and to the end of the earth. He never failed to mention Samaria. In spite of how the church, we the believers, think that we have it right, we are not yet there till we serve in this capacity. Till we partner with God in reaching the world with his love, we are yet to be impactful. We must be the ambassador we were called to be and as such must diligently execute this role. 2Corinthians 5:17…So that if anyone is in Christ, that one is a new creature; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 18 And all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given to us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 whereas God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and putting the word of reconciliation in us. 20 Then we are ambassadors on behalf of Christ, as God exhorting through us, we beseech you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For He has made Him who knew no sin, to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. It must be a personal as well as collective responsibility. She became an ambassador of the good news to which they testified that not only had they heard from her but have had the encounter. Reverse evangelism I call it. In reaching out an individual we may end up reaching out a family, clan, society, region or even continent. Samaria was on a revival due to a conversation about water. Christians, followers of Jesus Christ, are a work in progress and as such must continue to seek God in spirit and truth as well as making disciples which is a part of walk with him.
So the, if there is a worth celebration during this year’s Christmas, it is his love. It is his coming. It is his purpose. It is his grace that as many as there are need to know, embrace and surrender unto. Christmas retold is about a king who is always reminding us that he is full aware about us, identifies with us and wants a relationship with each one of us. So then, our candles and the light in us must shine to all. Not only shall we wait for them to ask us about the light but shall be proactive in explaining about that light that is shining in us- Christ’s light. It means that we have to lift the light high and draw towards them so that we can light unto them as well as light their candles. Romans 10:1415…How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without preaching? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace and bring glad tidings of good things!” So have we been sent? Yes we have: John 20:21 Then Jesus said to them again, Peace to you. As My Father has sent me, even so I send you.