John Day 21 - A Major Prophet Speaks
Yesterday we left off with Nicodemus in trouble. Here is why. To be a teacher one had to memorize the Scriptures. The Scriptures were organized into sections. The most important section was the 5 books of Moses which is why Nicodemus would have been very familiar with the story of the serpent on the pole. Another important section was the Major Prophets. First in line in that section was Isaiah. Today all I'm going to do is let Isaiah speak and you'll see why Nicodemus and his view of the Messiah is beginning to crumble...
53:1 "Who has believed our report?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
2 For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, and as a root out of dry ground.
He has no form or comeliness; and when we see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him.
3 He is despised and rejected by men,
A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him;
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
4 Surely He has borne our griefs
And carried our sorrows;
Yet we esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten by God, and afflicted.
5 But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray;
We have turned, every one, to his own way;
And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
Yet He opened not His mouth;
He was led as a lamb to the slaughter,
And as a sheep before its shearers is silent,
So He opened not His mouth.
8 He was taken from prison and from judgment, and who will declare His generation?
For He was cut off from the land of the living;
For the transgressions of My people He was stricken.
9 And they made His grave with the wicked—
But with the rich at His death,
Because He had done no violence,
Nor was any deceit in His mouth.
10 Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him;
He has put Him to grief.
When You make His soul an offering for sin,
He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days,
And the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand.
11 He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied.
By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, for He shall bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great, and He shall divide the spoil with the strong, because He poured out His soul unto death, and He was numbered with the transgressors, and He bore the sin of many,
And made intercession for the transgressors."
John Day 22 - Believe
14 "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. 16 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. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved."
These 4 verses sum up the entire story called the gospel (good news). Memorize these 4 verses and no one can ever take the Story from you. In them is contained both the identity and role of the Hero, the Anointed One, the Messiah that Israel has been waiting for. Don't forget that they have been expecting Him. They sent a delegation to John the Baptist to find out if he was the One. Now Nicodemus has come secretly to talk to Jesus about His true identity. As a non-Jew living in a totally different era you may find Jesus' words cryptic but really He is cutting right to the chase. He tells Nicodemus right off the top that if he really wants to see the kingdom he has been waiting for he is going to have to change his glasses, look from the opposite angle, change the lens etc...
Now Jesus comes right to the core of everything. He says basically "Remember that snake that Moses put on a pole? The Son of Man must be lifted up on a pole too. Belief in Him is where life and death center. Who is the Son of Man? He is the Son of God given by God Himself. Anyone who believes in Him will live. The Son is not sent to hurt or condemn anyone. The human race is already condemned. Death is the end of everyone that comes into the world... The Son has come to offer life."
Then Jesus continues. I so wish we were as familiar with 3:17 and onward as we are with 3:16. Here it is:
17 "For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved." 18 He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. 21 But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.”
Life and death. Light and darkness. Good and evil. Truth and error. These are the core of the war. These are the choices we have.
Tomorrow we'll look at religion and atheism and find out they are not much different. We'll compare Nicodemus' options and worldview to the major worldviews and options we have today. Most importantly we'll explore what Jesus' words to Nicodemus mean for us.
John Day 23
I love this revealing passage in Ecclesiastes:
1:9 "That which has been is what will be,
That which is done is what will be done,
And there is nothing new under the sun.
10 Is there anything of which it may be said,
“See, this is new”?
It has already been in ancient times before us."
Nicodemus is struggling to see beyond his box. This of course is nothing new. We all struggle to see beyond our box. What is interesting is that when we peel the labels off our boxes and look inside things that seemed very opposite suddenly look very similar.
Yesterday I told you we would examine religion and atheism and contrast them with what Jesus is saying to Nicodemus. I realize this world offers many varying views but I'm boiling them down to three: Religion, atheism, and following Jesus.
Religion was the box Nicodemus was in. Without picking on any particular religion they all have a very similar theme. Somewhere in the vast universe there is a god or several gods or countless gods. No matter which variant it is this God(s) controls your eternal destiny. If you are "good" your destiny improves and if you are "bad" it gets worse. As individuals we determine our destiny based on our own "performance". Atheism rejects the notion of a God or gods and with it goes any hope of a life beyond this one unless of course science can come up with a way to avoid death. Because atheism has done away with any life beyond this one, it focuses very much on the here and now. Interestingly it is precisely here that it has much in common with religion. Because this life is all we have the focus is very much on ourselves. Because religion is all about our own performance the focus is on ourselves making both intensely self centered. Atheism revolves around evolution as the explanation for how we got here which is all about personal performance. The strong survive.
Nicodemus lived in a dog eat dog world. The Romans were currently the top dogs. They believed in many gods and their culture was certainly a textbook example of selfishness. The belief box that Nicodemus lived in centered around the moment, not the big picture. He was waiting for a deliverer to free him not from sin and evil but from Roman occupation. Again the here and now.
Let's review. Religion and atheism have two central points in common. Self is the main focus and this life is the main concern even if the reasons are different. In fact there was a large faction of Jews called Sadducees who believed there was no life after death. How much closer to atheism can religion be?
The third option is Jesus. He cared nothing for Himself and spent zero time investing in this life. Why? Because He had a broader view. He saw a history that extended back beyond humanity and an eternity that stretched beyond this brief life. He had a very opposite view of this life as well. It wasn't about personal performance. He said crazy things like "The first will be last and the last will be first."
In the passage we read yesterday He affirmed atheism by stating as a matter of fact that the human race is condemned already. Death is our inheritance. There is no performance that will see us beyond the grave. So if no grand religious system or performance can see me through to a better place and atheism is right in that death is my certain lot in life what is the point?
Well that my friends is what the good news of John is all about. If we dare peer outside our box and look beyond the limitations of ourselves and the futility of our own performance we find a whole other view that even religion has not grasped.
See you tomorrow.
John Day 24
Today we're not going to push further into the gospel of John. Rather we're going to review. Yesterday we compared and contrasted religion and atheism. What we also did without saying so was define the darkness. Right from the very beginning John has laid out light and darkness as a major theme. Jesus is the Light and the darkness is something we prefer over Him. In chapter one he said the darkness could neither comprehend nor overcome the Light. In chapter 3 he says this:
19 "And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. 21 But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.”
Are you seeing it yet? Yesterday we said what religion and atheism have in common is that they are both focused on the here and now and both are about personal performance. Simply put they are short sighted and extremely selfish ideologies. This is the darkness. All about now and all about me. Jesus the Light came into that culture of me and now and demonstrated something radically different. It was so compelling to Nicodemus that he risked his status and success to explore the Light. Notice John makes it clear he came to Jesus under the cover of darkness. He is at this point on the fence. He wants to look at the light without leaving the darkness.
We think of evil as sinister and murderous. Evil is more subtle and insidious than that. The root of evil is placing myself above all else. Think about it. Every mean and/or underhanded and/or dishonest thing we do is rooted in self-preservation or self-promotion. The Jewish culture of Jesus day was full of this ideology. Jesus spoke about it openly. He said His people who were supposed to represent Him were just like everyone else. They desired the highest positions. They wore fancy robes. They wanted the best seats. They loved money and stuff.
Jesus had to use their thinking to teach them the Light. He said things like "love others like you love yourself". It flew in the face of everything they knew and lived and believed. They had even created religious teachings to free them from caring about others. They taught that if a person was sick or poor or crippled or suffering it was a punishment from God for sin. This left them free to ignore their suffering since they needed to suffer to "get better". This is why the priest and Levite passed by the man beaten in the road. They must leave him in his suffering since God wanted him to suffer.
Now that we have identified the darkness we are on the verge of seeing the Light. See you tomorrow.
John Day 25 - Light in the Darkness
A couple of days ago I talked about something that Jesus offered that religion has not grasped yet. Yesterday I said we would talk about the Light today. The two are very much intertwined. Back in chapter 1 John called Jesus the Light that came into our darkness. It's parallel to Genesis chapter one. Then John goes on to say "We beheld His glory..."
Before we go any further it would be beneficial to take a practical look at light and darkness. Light exists. Darkness does not. You can turn on a light but you can't turn on darkness. The only way to achieve darkness is by removing all light. Light is a thing. Darkness is simply the absence of that thing.
John is describing the presence of Jesus as light and the absence of Jesus as darkness. The Jewish nation, Nicodemus included, we're waiting for the anointed one, the Messiah. However they were waiting for someone who was like them just stronger and more capable. Jesus was not like them. He was like a flood light turned on in a dark cave full of cockroaches. Rather than embrace Him everyone dove for cover seeking refuge from the light.
Yesterday we described darkness as all about me and all about the moment. Darkness is simply pure selfishness. The Jews just wanted wealth and power. They wanted to be the Romans. Today we live in a world where the rich are becoming uber rich and more and more of the wealth is controlled by fewer and fewer people. This economic imbalance is being decried by many yet how many of those complainers would give away the wealth if it was in their own pockets? We don't hate the wealthy for their wealth. We hate them because we want to be them. It's a case of pure envy.
Now enter religion. Religion is like a deferred payment plan. Consider the following lyrics of a popular old hymn:
"I'm satisfied with just a cottage below. A little silver and a little gold. But in that city where the ransomed will shine
I want a gold one that's silver lined
I've got a mansion just over the hilltop
In that bright land where we'll never grow old
And some day yonder we will never more wander
But walk on streets that are purest gold
Don't think me poor or deserted or lonely
I'm not discouraged I'm heaven bound
I'm but a pilgrim in search of the city
I want a mansion, a harp and a crown
I've got a mansion just over the hilltop
In that bright land where we'll never grow old
And some day yonder we will never more wander
But walk on streets that are purest gold"
Light gives. Darkness takes. Light seeks the good of others. Darkness seeks it's own benefit. God loved - God gave.
Religion no matter the shape or size is intensely selfish. It is primarily about my performance and my reward. The truth is that heaven is a place for those who choose the Light. Those who want rewards but no light would be miserable there.
There is much more to say but it can't be said in a single day. It must be absorbed gradually just as the rising sun slowly invades every dark corner until all is light. There are dark corners in each of us that want to resist the light at all costs. That is why Jesus said to His disciples "I have many things to tell you but you can't bear them now."
Light is considerate and gentle. We'll discover more and more as we go.
John Day 26
Long passage today because we're going to finish out the chapter as it is all one conversation. More light and more darkness...
John the Baptist Exalts Christ
3:22 "After these things Jesus and His disciples came into the land of Judea, and there He remained with them and baptized. 23 Now John also was baptizing in Aenon near Salim, because there was much water there. And they came and were baptized. 24 For John had not yet been thrown into prison.
25 Then there arose a dispute between some of John’s disciples and the Jews about purification. 26 And they came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, He who was with you beyond the Jordan, to whom you have testified—behold, He is baptizing, and all are coming to Him!”
27 John answered and said, “A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven. 28 You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ,’ but, ‘I have been sent before Him.’29 He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled. 30 He must increase, but I must decrease. 31 He who comes from above is above all; he who is of the earth is earthly and speaks of the earth. He who comes from heaven is above all. 32 And what He has seen and heard, that He testifies; and no one receives His testimony. 33 He who has received His testimony has certified that God is true. 34 For He whom God has sent speaks the words of God, for God does not give the Spirit by measure. 35 The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into His hand. 36 He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”
Competition, jealousy, envy - darkness. And what is darkness? The absence of light. Light rejoices in the success of others. Light sees the success of others as success for everyone since we're all on the same team and running the same race. Jesus is not taking away from the ministry of John. He is adding to it and expanding it. If Jesus had not come John would have been a liar and ultimately his message and ministry would have fizzled and died out. However here we are two thousand years later still building on what John began. Jealousy and envy are short sighted. Satan suffered from the same issues. He was not satisfied with his part in God's kingdom even though it was a leading part. He wanted to be the top dog. Little does he realize it isn't possible. A created being trying to be God is like a child trying to be the parent only more impossible. It requires grace to know our place. It requires light. It requires trust that our greatest happiness is found where we are, not where we imagine we could or should be.
To be the vice president is a great honour and a high position yet it is not the president. John was given great responsibility in God's plan. He prepared the way for the arrival of Jesus and then he gracefully faded from the limelight. He knew his role. His disciples tried to push him into the darkness. Under the veil of concern and loyalty they tried to fill his head with ideas of false grandeur.
His response is one for the ages. "He must increase while I decrease." Such humility only made the light in John's heart shine brighter. Later Jesus said of him "None was born greater than John the Baptist".
When we stand in the light we can see clearly that God has a perfect plan and place for us and our greatest joy is found right in that spot and not one step "higher" or "lower".
See you tomorrow.
John Day 27
I was looking forward to starting chapter 4 today but was called back. Here's why:
3:35 The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into His hand. 36 He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”
I am often mystified when I dig into the Greek text from which we get our english translation. I am no scholar but I don't need to be a scholar to tell the difference between words. Just follow the technical stuff for a moment and you'll see what I mean. So far we've been looking a lot at the theme of light and darkness but there is another theme in John - belief. He uses the word over and over.
In the passage we're looking at today he uses it again. "He who believes in the Son has eternal life". He appears to use it again in the very next verse except in the Greek the word for believe is not there. It is an entirely different word: apeithéō – literally, refuse to be persuaded.
This is the same word from which we get our english word apathetic. Not at all the word that means believe.
Now let's look at our verses again -
3:35 The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into His hand. 36 He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who refuses to be pursuaded by the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”
Now again John does not say "will not HAVE life" but rather says "will not SEE life". Remember what Jesus said to Nicodemus right off the top? "Unless you are born again you will not SEE the kingdom of God. Here is the definition of the word translated 'see':
properly, see - metaphorical meaning: "to see with the mind" (i.e. spiritually see), i.e. perceive (with inward spiritual perception).
We're not dealing with vision here. We're dealing with the heart and mind. Nicodemus came to Jesus. Never forget that point. As a pastor when I see people come to my church of their own choice "out of the blue" it is just more evidence that God is at work. Nicodemus came because he saw (with his mind by the leading of God's Spirit) that Jesus was more than just a teacher. He responded to that Voice by seeking out Jesus for himself. "You will search for Me and find Me when you search with all your heart". Interesting eh? It isn't a vision based search like hide and go seek. It is a heart search.
So the Spirit of God prompts us to seek for Jesus. If we respond and search and believe Him when we find Him we have (not will have in the future but have in the present) eternal life. However if after hearing the Voice of God's Spirit and then being exposed to a Light that seems so contradictory to everything we have ever known we refuse to be pursuaded guess what happens? We return to the darkness. We continue to get what we already had. We'll never see with our understanding what could have been. We'll remain closed in our box. Chapter 3 leaves us with Nicodemus at the crossroads of his life. He has come face to face with the one choice this life is all about. We can live in the darkness for our 70ish years and then succomb to death or we can dare to be persuaded to leave our box and begin to live eternally right now. We have everything to gain and nothing to lose because we're always free to return to the darkness.
Will we be persuaded? Will we dare to listen to the undeniable Voice that speaks to us? Will we dare to open the eyes of our hearts and look into the Light? Will we believe what we see? These are the questions of life.
Tomorrow Jesus begins another one on one conversation with someone who on the surface appears very different from Nicodemus. See you then.
John Day 28 - Sex
Now that I have your attention today is very much about sex as you will see.
4:1 "Therefore, when the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John 2 (though Jesus Himself did not baptize, but His disciples), 3 He left Judea and departed again to Galilee. 4 But He needed to go through Samaria.
5 So He came to a city of Samaria which is called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. 6 Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied from His journey, sat down by the well. It was about the sixth hour. (Noon)
7 A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give Me a drink.” 8 For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.
9 Then the woman of Samaria said to Him, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?” For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans."
When you look at a map of the area Jesus lived and carried out His ministry you will find the Jordan River running north and south connecting two bodies of water. In the north is the sea of Galilee and in the south the Dead Sea. Jerusalem, the capital city of Judea is in the south close to the Dead Sea. In the north the entire area around the Sea of Galilee on the west side was referee to as Galilee and there were several towns one of which was Nazareth where Jesus grew up. In between Judea and Galilee on the west side of the Jordan was a large area called Samaria. When Jews traveled between Galilee and Judea they either had to go through Samaria or make the journey much longer by going around Samaria. Many because of deep prejudice chose to go around. The history between these two groups was long and deep. For centuries it was all the land of Israel. Then after King Solomon died and his son Rehoboam took over the nation split over guess what? $$$. Rehoboam had a tax plan the nation didn't like and most of them decided to split. The region that split became known as Samaria and over time and many issues they became enemies even though they were family. The Jews degradingly referred to them as half breeds. To say they hated each other is a gross understatement.
Today we read that Jesus was travelling north to Galilee and He NEEDED to go through Samaria. It's a strange and strong statement. The truth is Jesus had travel options. He didn't have to go through Samaria at all. What was so important that He MUST go through Samaria? We'll find that out later...
On His way through he sits down by a well. We're even told the time of day. Highly unusual. So it's high noon and time for lunch. Jesus sits down by the well while His disciples go into town to get food. We're told the location of the well. It's a well Jacob dug and then gave to Joseph. This is of great significance to the Jews as and historical site. It must have really annoyed them that it was in the land of the half breeds.
OK so we're given all kinds of details about the where, the when, and the why. Now we're about to meet a who. The who is a woman. Three times in 2 verses it refers to her as a woman. We are not to miss this fact. She is there to get water. At noon. Alone.
So many details surrounding an encounter that should never have happened with a person that is less than important. In the eyes of a Jewish man you couldn't be much lower on the scale of human importance than being a Samaritan woman.
Should gender have any say in the value of a person? Should anatomy define worth. Should country of origin? Despite all the details we have so far there are many questions.
Now with all that nerdy background out of the way tomorrow we'll explore what this encounter is all about. Sex is going to be a big part of it in every way.
John Day 29
Before we move deeper into the encounter between Jesus and the Samaritan woman I want to share with you some further study I did yesterday. As I highlighted in the intro to Jesus' encounter the text said he NEEDED to go through Samaria which geographically wasn't true. He had other options. The need was different and deeper than mere geography. There is another story that uses this same imperative word. It is also about a one on one encounter but it's found in Luke.
19:1 "Then Jesus entered and passed through Jericho. 2 Now behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus who was a chief tax collector, and he was rich. 3 And he sought to see who Jesus was, but could not because of the crowd, for he was of short stature. 4 So he ran ahead and climbed up into a sycamore tree to see Him, for He was going to pass that way. 5 And when Jesus came to the place, He looked up and saw him, and said to him, “Zacchaeus, make haste and come down, for today I MUST stay at your house.” 6 So he made haste and came down, and received Him joyfully."
Why the strong urgent language. Won't there be other days and other opportunities? Apparently not. You see moments pass. People and circumstances change. You may meet a person more than once but each time you meet them you are different and so are they. On this particular day Zacchaeus is seeking Jesus. The Voice that brought Nicodemus to Jesus at night has caused a rich man to climb a tree just to have the opportunity to see Jesus. Today is the day for Zacchaeus. "Today if you hear His voice do not harden your heart." Today. It's brief and then gone. Jesus understood better than we ever will the critical nature of the moment when a heart is open to Voice of God's Spirit and is searching for the One who alone can bring us from darkness into the Light. "Zacchaeus I must come to your house today. Hurry and come down before this life changing opportunity passes."
Jesus NEEDED to go through Samaria. There was a woman there. One woman, one well, one day, one opportunity. It didn't take 12 men to get lunch but He sent them all. Their presence would ruin the opportunity. Everything had to be just right. At high noon the Voice of God inside that woman would meet with the person of God in human flesh and the encounter would forever change her.
Jesus NEEDED to go through Samaria.
Moments are precious and fleeting. Listen to His Voice. You don't ever want to miss out when Jesus is seeking a one on one encounter with you.
See you tomorrow when we find out what all the urgency was about and what sex had to do with it.
John Day 30 - Don't Miss This
7 "A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give Me a drink.” 8 For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.
9 Then the woman of Samaria said to Him, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?” For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.
10 Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.”
11 The woman said to Him, “Sir, You have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep. Where then do You get that living water? 12 Are You greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, as well as his sons and his livestock?”
13 Jesus answered and said to her,“Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”
15 The woman said to Him, “Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw.”
16 Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.”
17 The woman answered and said, “I have no husband.”
Jesus said to her, “You have well said, ‘I have no husband,’ 18 for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; in that you spoke truly.”
19 The woman said to Him, “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.”
21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews.23 But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. 24 God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”
25 The woman said to Him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When He comes, He will tell us all things.”
26 Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am He.”
27 And at this point His disciples came, and they marveled that He talked with a woman; yet no one said, “What do You seek?” or, “Why are You talking with her?”
28 The woman then left her water pot, went her way into the city, and said to the men, 29 “Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?” 30 Then they went out of the city and came to Him."
In three short verses it repeats 3 three times that she is a woman and four times that she is a Samaritan. John doesn't want us to miss these two facts. Is being a woman that big of a deal. Is gender that great of a divide? Consider how the encounter ends. The disciples return and marvel that He is speaking to a woman. The Greek word for marvel is thauma from which the English word trauma is derived. Here is the definition:
2296 thaumázō (from 2295 /thaúma, "a wonder, marvel") – properly, wonder at, be amazed (marvel), i.e. astonished out of one's senses; awestruck, "wondering very greatly" (Souter); to cause "wonder; . . . to regard with amazement, and with a suggestion of beginning to speculate on the matter" (WS, 225).
You could almost say they were traumatized that He was speaking to a woman. There are still some cultures today where the only women a man can speak to is his mother, his sisters, his wife and his daughters. Anatomy does divide.
However it goes much deeper in this encounter than just sexism. First Jesus asks for a drink. This simple act evokes quite a response from this woman. She blurts out how "crazy" His request is. Notice that she puts the divide between Jews and Samaritans squarely on the shoulders of the Jews. Jesus uses the situation to open a conversation. "If you knew..." Brilliant. We all like to be "in the know" and we can't stand it when we think there is something to know that we don't know.
"If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks..."
Gift: 1431 dōreá (a feminine noun, derived from 1325 /dídōmi) – a gift, freely given and hence not acquired by merit or "entitlement." 1431 /dōreá (a feminine noun) expresses a brand of giving that highlights the beneficent desire of the giver.
Jesus has one goal always - to dispense the Gift.
Read the encounter over again. A lone woman has come to draw water at high noon. Women usually go in groups to fetch water early in the morning when it is still cool. This woman is alone and clearly wants to remain alone by coming when no one is there. Meeting people requires emotional energy especially when there are already underlying issues.
Tomorrow we'll explore those issues and discover something about sex that perhaps we didn't know before...