Summary: As we come into contact with people in the normal ebb and flow of daily activities that we should impact their lives with the love, the power, the grace, the peace and joy that we have discovered in our own salvation.
THE POWER TO GIVE LIFE
John 4:1-15, 25-26
In Genesis 2:9 we find these words: “Out of the ground the LORD God caused to grow every tree that is pleasing to the sight and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” We know the story of what happened when Adam and Eve disobeyed God and they had to leave and were prohibited from going into the garden so that they would not have access to the tree of life in their sinful condition. Ever since that happened, mankind desperately clings to life and looks for every remedy to find something that will preserve, extend, and improve the quality of life. Of all the money that is spent in the world today, a very large portion of it goes toward national defense, local protection, and health care. All of these are driven by our obsession with wanting to live. If we could just find that tree of life, then we would be liberated from our obsessive compulsive behavior and be free to use the resources we have to do so many great things.
If you knew where this tree of life was and could teach people how to get to it, then you would have the power to give life. In Revelation 22:1-2 we see “Then he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb, in the middle of its street. On either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.”
One of the recurring themes people have discovered regarding a general strategy for spreading the good news of God’s salvation and the Kingdom of God is captured in the phrase “as you go.” The idea is that as we come into contact with people in the normal ebb and flow of daily activities that we should impact their lives with the love, the power, the grace, the peace and joy that we have discovered in our own salvation. In this chapter, John shows us how this strategy works out in one-on-one interactions with an individual, how it can result in a teachable moment with friends, how a whole community can be impacted, and how it provides an opportunity for miracles to happen.
Go – 4:1-5
1 Therefore when the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John 2 (although Jesus Himself was not baptizing, but His disciples were), 3 He left Judea and went away again into Galilee. 4 And He had to pass through Samaria. 5 So He came to a city of Samaria called Sychar, near the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph; John 4:1-5 (NASB95)
Sometimes part of the routine of everyday living is going from one place to another. There are all kinds of reasons for travel. John provided some insight into the reason Jesus and His disciples made the journey from Judea to Galilee. The earthly ministry of Jesus was conducted with a sense of appropriate timing. The notoriety of Jesus’ ministry in Judea could possibly bring on an early confrontation with the Jewish leaders. Jesus was aware of this and in an effort to allow things to cool off somewhat after the arrest and imprisonment of John the Baptist, Jesus withdrew to Galilee. (Note that the death of John the Baptist was somewhat later than this – see the mention of this in Matthew 14:10-21.)
Though we are admonished to be “instant in season and out of season” we still need to be aware of the correct timing to gain maximum impact from our ministry. Many times, we cannot minister to people until relationships have been established. At other times we must pray for the Holy Spirit to bring conviction before we speak or do anything. Jesus knew there would be a confrontation with the Pharisees, but now was not the time for such an encounter.
Going through Samaria was the most direct route from Judea to Galilee. It was not the route of choice for many Jews because the Jews despised the Samaritans. In going from Judea to Galilee most Jews would have avoided taking the most direct route since that would have taken them through Samaria. They would have walked many miles and crossed the Jordan River twice because of the prevailing prejudice against the Samaritans. This hatred was rooted in the rivalry between the northern and southern tribes of Israel. This rivalry became worse when the nation actually split into two separate governments. It became even worse when the Assyrians conquered the northern kingdom. Many of the Israelites were taken into exile (B.C. 721) and non-Israelites were moved into the area in B.C. 677. These “imports” intermarried with the Israelites that were left behind and the result was the Samaritan people. Even though this had happened more than 600 years before, the resentment and prejudice were still there. Such petty issues pale into insignificance when one considers the importance of the mission of the Kingdom of God.