The Gospel Of John, Chapter 4
How have you been doing with your reading? Are you keeping pace with us? Hopefully you are because we're ready to jump into chapter 4! This week, Jesus says and does some pretty unusual things. But we'll quickly watch that become the norm for him.
This is the first time in this gospel that we see Jesus reaching through cultural barriers. Samaritans were the children of Jews who had married outside of the Jewish culture. These Jews and their children were viewed as traitors to the Jewish people. More than that, this particular Samaritan Jesus spoke with was a woman in a male dominated society. She also probably had the local reputation of promiscuity. Three elements that made this conversation extremely taboo in Jewish culture. But still, Jesus saw a person that needed him. She needed forgiveness and a new, eternal source of life.
As Christians, we can often segment ourselves in a comfortable bubble, avoiding people that are different from us or that make us uncomfortable to be around. But based on Jesus' example, we should make a straight line to ANYONE who needs us. Consider this week who you can start a conversation with that you might normally avoid for the sake of comfort.
A very hot topic in today's churches is worship. Or rather, "worship style". Fast or slow, soft or loud, new or old. What should our songs be like on Sunday morning? The sad truth is that we are wasting so much time and energy bickering over what is such a small thing.
Starting in verse 21, Jesus strips away the superficial and deals with the truth of the matter. Spirit and Truth. True worship involves the Holy Spirit and focuses on the Truth. Jesus also said that "the Father is looking for anyone who will worship him that way". THOSE are the people God is interested in being with during a time of worship. So why not challenge yourself, during your next church service, to forget about style, volume and tempo, and focus on the words that you are singing (or even just reading if you don't know the song)? Whether you attend a traditional, contemporary, or emerging worship service, God will meet you there if you focus on him and the truth.
Ever thought if he lived on earth today you could look up Jesus in the phone book under "C"? Well, the word "Christ" is actually not the last name of Jesus. It's really a title meaning "anointed one". In the Old Testament, this "anointing" was reserved mainly for kings and priests. (Interesting to consider, since today Jesus is both a king and a priest. But hold that thought for another time.) The Messiah, or "THE Christ"(not just A Christ) was a person the Jews expected would come and rescue them from the oppression and injustice they were experiencing. He would be the ideal king, empowered by God to create a righteous kingdom. They also saw the Messiah as one uniquely blessed by God, with encredible knowledge and wisdom.
All of this is important to realize because today many believe that Jesus was a good, humble servant of God, but that he didn't see himself as anything more than that. This idea is eradicated the first time Jesus admits that, in fact, he IS "The Messiah". (v.25-26)
But did he ever claim to be even more than a king, priest or prophet? Things get really interesting next week, so be sure to come back and find out!
Question to comment on: What, if anything, are the "hot topic" issues regarding the music at your church?