I was reading the first four chapters of the gospel as recorded by St John recently, and I discovered something in the first three verses of chapter four that I had never seen before. The words literally jumped out of the pages of my copy of the Message Bible and hit me in the gut.
The aftermath of that punch is the post you’re about to read, while this might not be my first post on the blog for 2019, this is the first post written for the blog in 2019. The previous post was written for Facebook and shared here as well.
One of my favourite stories of Jesus in the Bible is the story of his meeting with the Samaritan woman. it’s a heartwarming story of acceptance and boldness, I loved how she put the facts out – The Jews hated the people of Samaria even though they had historical links, the way to God was confusing, with each group claiming a different thing. I also loved how adaptable she was to new knowledge, weighing it, finding it valid and decided to shift old values and beliefs aside.
As a woman, I found it beautiful that not long after Jesus told Nicodemus about being born of the spirit, he also told the woman deep truths about the kingdom of heaven. He was willing to pour out himself to anyone who was willing to receive, willing to use whoever offered themselves for his purpose and fruition of his vision. Let’s not forget that the woman ended up becoming a great evangelist in the region, bringing many into the fold. One thing I had never thought about or even known was why he was in Samaria at the time.
I bought a copy of The Message Bible for myself when I turned 29, I consider it one of the best investments I have ever made. It’s easy to read, the language is beautiful and for most part it offers more information on biblical events.
The first chapters of St John’s gospel are about the setting up of the ministry of Jesus, while there might not have been as many details in his narrations as Luke and Matthew put in their theirs, I like the emphasis on how Jesus was led by the Holy Spirit. I think perhaps of all the gospels, it is the one that sets the template for Christians to follow, with principles of the kingdom woven in nearly every chapter.
Jesus set up his ministry in Judea after he had been baptized by John, he got his first disciples and they began to baptize people just as John was doing. John’s disciples and associates were offended by this, Jesus was pulling more crowds and it seemed as if he came from nowhere and muscled John out of the way. They complained to John about this but John was happy that the ministry of Jesus was doing better. He knew his place in the scheme of things as the forerunner of the gospel, he wasn’t looking for more.
The Pharisees however were intent on causing trouble. They monitored everything and exploited the discontent of John’s men by stirring up talk about Jesus being more popular. When Jesus heard the rumours he left Judea and the rest of the story continues from there.
Human beings have always felt the need for comparison with others from the days of Cain and Abel, it did not start with you and I. It’s funny how when we start to compare, we do not consider that we have different journeys and purpose. Jesus knew he did not leave heaven to come to baptize men and women only, a thousand John the Baptists could have been sent down instead. He walked away from their drama instead, heading for the Samarian woman and to do the will of his father.
Sometimes, life throws unpleasant and unfair situations at us without mercy. Jesus was quietly doing his thing while John’s disciples were angry with him and the Pharisees were going round stoking even more trouble for him. Leaving that place might have seemed extreme but it was ultimately necessary. It’s important to know when to walk away and to open your eyes to opportunities on your new path.
If Jesus got the timing wrong, he’d have missed out on that encounter with the woman at the well. Besides her knowledge and confidence, it’s pretty unusual to meet a woman who’s been married five times before and she still has another man living with her. A man actively auditioning to be Husband Number 6. Jesus didn’t judge her but instead offered her the living water of everlasting life. Many of us would have written her off instantly. When next we want to judge those with colourful histories and characters, let’s remember how Jesus handled this matter. To quote Tuface Idibia “Nobody holy pass”.
I pray that in this beautiful year 2019, we would make the right decisions, be sensitive to vibes and situations. Most of all, may our journeys and detours bring us to awesome destinations only.