“Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?”
(John 4: 29)
Back in May 2019, Leslie and I were able to realize a dream. We took all of our children to Israel to visit the places that Jesus walked.
Since the birth of our oldest, I wanted my children to see the places they were reading about in the Bible. The purpose was to pull these places off the page. I wanted them to have the experience to see and smell and touch the places the Bible described.
The Bible is not just a book of stories, but a history of real people that lived in real cities and were urged on by a real God.
One of these places we visited was in a Palestinian controlled town in the West Bank. There is a small Greek Orthodox Church there over Jacob’s Well where Jesus met the Samaritan woman just outside of town in the heat of the day.
The woman was there most likely because of shame, and Jesus just “happened” to be there at the same time. He was alone because he had sent his disciples into town to seek out food.
It’s like Jesus had an appointment.
This story is so significant for many reasons, but I think there’s a teaching in this story that is especially pertinent is this time we live and raise children.
Just recently, I came across the story again.
I’ve been studying the book of John with my unsaved brother who is 19 years younger than me. He reminds me a lot of myself before I was saved at 24.
We have an in-depth study for about two hours over one chapter weekly, and my brother is engaged. He challenges me with all kinds of questions. He is a smart guy and asks me questions sometimes that I just don’t know the answers. I don’t care who you are, you just can’t know everything about the Bible and the questions that might come up while reading it. (Dt. 29:29)
Anyway, we went through the narrative of the Woman at the Well in John 4. This is what came out of that study.
People are under the impression that to tell people that you disagree with their lifestyle or what they do is unloving. But Jesus didn’t have such a conflict.
Somehow, he was able to meet a woman who was embarrassed by her lifestyle in the middle of the day and tell her pointedly and without offending her that her lifestyle was keeping her from the “living water” that Jesus promised. Matter of fact, she didn’t defend it or get angry at Him for pointing it out.
Jesus was able to do exactly what many today believe is unloving and presented it in such a way that the woman saw it as an expression of love.
Instead of being insulted and angry she ran into the city to the people from whom she was trying to avoid by visiting the well in the middle of the day and tell them, “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did.”
Jesus pointed out to her the source of shame and this actually convinced her that Jesus was the Christ.
Think about this, he did it without without yelling and screaming and insulting. He did it without rallying a crowd to grab their pitchforks or pick up stones, or recruit a mob to demonstrate at military funerals.
He didn’t kick her out of the house. Take away the car. Scream and yell at her.
Somehow, he was able to tell her the truth about herself and she saw it as love. When I read this and taught through it with my unsaved brother, my thought was, “Oh Lord! Give me this ability!”
This is an incredible ability that honestly, I don’t witness often. We are really good at picking up our a pitchforks and going after people. Matter of fact, our leaders often encourage this kind of behavior and even justify it.
But also, we need to realize that Jesus was very direct with people. He didn’t hide how he felt about the actions of the people around him. His words were piercing and dividing. Yet, many saw Him as characterizing love.
Just before the story of Nicodemus coming to Jesus in John 3, Jesus overturns tables and chases money-changers out of the Temple with a whip in John 2. Nicodemus was convinced that Jesus was different. Think about that, Jesus attacked an issue that represented the corruption of the priests in the Temple, and the very next chapter a man of high-standing within that same leadership came to him.
His honesty and love divided. We have this part down. But, his honesty and love also drew people to him. We are not so good at this.
Oh that we would get good at being able to be honest with people about their lifestyle while at the same time exemplifying Jesus’ love, especially to our own children and family.