Jesus’ Ministry Grows — Jesus’ baptisms increase & the Samaritan woman at the well.
Reading 1: John 3:22-36
Reading 2: John 4:1-42
Reading 3: 2 Kings 17:24-41
Today we have two life lessons in our readings. First: success is a gift from God; competition is not part of His plan for us. And second: God’s heart is to find and save those who are confused about Him, setting their theology right in the process.
The success test is a hard one for John – it appears that Jesus is more successful than him, yet he knows it is supposed to be this way. The Son of God brings the free gift of eternal life, and so it is inevitable that those who are hungry for God’s life will follow Him rather than an earthly forerunner who has less to offer. It is a question of how much the Holy Spirit can work in a person’s life. Jesus has the Spirit of God without limit. We face this test in our own lives – how will we respond when God seems to bless others more than us? Here’s a hint about the right response: rejoice, and thank God that He is working in the lives of people!
And to show us how God works in the lives of people, Jesus picks the disqualified (by Jewish religious standards) and reveals Himself plainly as the Messiah. We read in 2 Kings 17 why the Samaritans were despised – they came from pagan lands and were resettled in God’s land by the invading king of Babylon. Even when they were taught how to worship God in spirit and in truth, they mixed in their own pagan practices. When God forbids this it is for our own good. You can’t mix gasoline and diesel and expect your car to run. Some mixtures cause terrible damage, and that is why God forbids them. Following the creator’s instructions is freedom, not restriction.
And following those instructions, Jesus goes to a Samaritan woman who is living unmarried with a man who would otherwise be her sixth husband. Clearly she has not followed God’s instructions, yet Jesus reaches out to her. God cares for the most lost. The woman moves from surprised to defensive to believing through the conversation with Jesus and becomes a powerful evangelist (one who brings good news) to her people. Many of them come to faith in Jesus as the Messiah as a result.
So two challenges for us today: will we renounce competition with our brothers and sisters, rejoicing in their success when God works through them? And who will we reach out to, across cultural divides or societal rejection, and offer living water?
Have a great day!