Sunday, June 12, 2011

Not Too Tired

Today's passage:  John 4
     Sometimes my kids wear me out.  Having three energetic boys can drain me.  Do boys always want to be wrestling and roughhousing?  It seems in my house they do.  I love them dearly, but there are days when bedtime does not come soon enough.  Again, not because I lack love for them, but emotionally, physically, mentally, its exhausting!
     Jesus was God, but He was also man.  How He can be both at the same time, fully God and fully human is beyond my comprehension.  The beginning of chapter 4 shows a little of his humanity.  He had been preaching, his disciples had been baptizing, He had developed a following.  The Pharisees were already nervous about crazy wild man John the Baptist, but it seemed that even more people were starting to follow this miracle worker.  This made them even more nervous.  Can you see them trailing Jesus everywhere He went, so they could report back to the others everything He did?  It was like they were now secret agents.  Jesus decided to give them the slip.  He had another very important reason to go through Samaria on his way to Galilee, but might He not have wanted to lose the Pharisees?  He knew they would not step foot in that province.  He knew they were too proud to mingle with those Samaritans. 
     In verse 6 it says "Now Jacob's well was there.  Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well:  and it was the sixth hour."  Might He not have also been wearied by the Pharisees' unbelief, by their constant questions, by their overwhelming desire to see Him fail?  Not because He couldn't handle it, not because He didn't already know this is how they would respond, just because it was tiring.  Maybe from a human standpoint, Jesus just needed a break.  Notice that the disciples are not with Him when He arrives at this well, they were getting food.  So it is just Jesus. Many times in the gospels, Jesus goes off by Himself for a time.  Many of those times He prayed, He communed with God, He gained renewed strength.  Might this be another of those times?  Then a Samaritan woman comes to get her water for the day.  She is by herself.  I've read and learned that usually the women would go out together to collect the water.  Why is she going at an unusual time?  Why is she going when nobody else is there?  She does not seem to be the most popular woman in this town, which is really something considering the history of the Samaritans.  Second Kings 17 gives a little history about these people.  The king of Assyria had purposely planted captives from all the different countries he had conquered into this small province.  Different countries meant different belief systems, and none of them followed Jehovah God.  Many even believed in burning their children as sacrifices.  It was so bad, that God sent lions into the country to devour the heathens.  Complaints were sent to the Assyrian king who then allows them to be schooled by one of the captive Jewish priests.  They actually take a class on how to appease this God of the land.  After class, however, they continue in their pagan practices.  Jews marry with them and the Samaritan race is born.  It is not hard to see why the Jews wanted nothing to do with these people.  It is easy to see why the Pharisees would wait for Jesus to come out on the other side.  But even among these people, this Samaritan woman is shunned.  She does not draw water when all the other women do.  What had she done?  Later in the passage, Jesus reveals that she has been married five times and is now living with a man to who she is not married.  Apparently, in Samaria it was okay to marry Gentiles, but never more than once. 
     I'm thinking that even in our day, someone married five times is a lot.  I've met people who have been married two, sometimes three times.  I'm not sure I've ever met someone who walked down the aisle five times.  Why is this such a problem for them?  I'm not exactly sure.  At some point in their history, they return somewhat to worshipping Jehovah God.  When Ezra and Nehemiah return to rebuild the city walls and reconstruct the Temple, the Samaritans are not allowed to participate.  Being refused causes them to develop their own brand of worship.  They determine that only the first five books of Moses, the Torah, are the only Scriptures, they decide that Mount Gerizim in Samaria is the only true place of worship.  It is because of the Jews hatred of them, that they design their own practices.  If this is the case, Moses had a lot to say about marriage and remarriage.  It is still highly debated today.  The Samaritan woman would have broken the most sacred of laws according to the Samaritans.  She would have been an outcast.  Is it no wonder she is surprised that this Jewish man has asked her for something?  Her own people would not have dealings with her, let alone a Jewish rabbi.  Yet, Jesus shows her kindness and compassion.  He is not too tired to talk to her about her need.  When He tells her He already knows about her past, and does not seem repulsed by it, she is surprised.  When He doesn't reprimand her for no longer worshipping in the Temple at Jerusalem, she is disarmed.  She becomes interested in His message.  She begins to believe His Words.  She becomes a witness.  And who does she find to tell?  The men.  The women here had made it clear they wanted nothing to do with her.  They had ignored her, judged her, isolated her, ostracized her. 
     I think women particularly can be catty, harsh and unforgiving. If I want people to hear my message, sometimes I need to be accepting (not condoning) of who a person is, so they can become the person God wants them to be.  If I do not love people with all of their shortcomings (because don't I have my own?) then they may not hear my message about the One who can help them with those.  I'm so glad God did not point out to me every sin in my life the moment I came to Him.  He did point some out, and pointed out the fact that I was born a sinner, but if he had shown me everything that was wrong with me when I was newly saved, I'm not sure I could have handled it. I'm so glad God knew that.
     I guess being tired can be a good thing in my life.  It was a good thing for the Samaritan woman that Jesus was tired that day.  She found Someone who could love her for who she was, and transform her into the person she wanted to be.  Even in Christ's weariness, He reached out to someone who needed Him.  Help me today to not ever be too tired to care about other's souls.  Help me to always be on the lookout for someone who needs You, Lord.

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