Friday, 25 March 2011

The dangers of talking with Jesus

John 4

Consider for a moment the story of the woman at the well. The circumstance of her interaction with Jesus suggests she is a woman who might indeed have some significant questions for God about how her life has unfolded. Her conversation with Jesus certainly indicates that this is the case, but her questioning also involves a desire to listen and to find out more.

Jesus for his part thought speaks in cryptically symbolic language about living water and he names one of the key issues of her life:

“You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you have said is true!”

There is a danger in listening for what Jesus might say to us, because it is more than likely he will name some home truths about who we are and what we have done in our lives, despite the fact we may see ourselves as faithful church attendees.

Jesus constantly had jibes for those who considered themselves to be the upstanding members of the Jewish community – the so called holy people of his day. We should be wary of thinking that Jesus’ jibes no longer apply to us.

Jesus raised serious questions about the distribution of wealth and power and given that everyone in this room is rich we must hear Jesus words to the rich young man as particularly confronting “Sell everything you have and give it to the poor.”

Jesus preserved his blessings for those who were poor, those who were hungry, those who were mourning and those who were in prison.

And Jesus injunction to those who follow him was that they should go and share the good news in word and deed teaching others so that the world might come to believe.

The Jesus that many of us would want to follow is an upright citizen who would not ruffle our feathers and cause us to question our position and place but the Jesus who the woman meets at the well is the same Jesus who turns over the tables in the temple and challenges but the religious, economic, social and political systems of his time.

Put bluntly we have sought to domestic Jesus so that following him does not cost us too much.

I think that John includes the questions that are not asked of Jesus and the woman by the disciples precisely because they were the questions on their minds “What do you want?” or, “Why are you speaking with her?”

In short the disciples were offended. Part of the irony of the story is that it is the woman with whom Jesus has had this chance encounter that goes off the to share the good news of her experience with Jesus whilst Jesus is teaching the disciples that this is precisely what they are supposed to be doing, “see how the fields are ripe for harvesting.”

The Samaritans of Sychar believe the woman and up the ante proclaiming that Jesus is not only the Messiah but he is indeed the Saviour of the world. This is the hope that we cling to despite our inadequacies as Jesus disciples that, as Paul declared, “For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more surely, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life. But more than that, we even boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.”

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