Our most recent sermon was based on John 4:1-42 and entitled, “He Had To Meet You.” I would encourage you to read through that section of scripture, as it is an incredible story about the heart of Jesus toward people in the margins. John tells us that Jesus had to go through Samaria, which is an amazing statement, in light of the culture and bigotry of that day.
Samaria, through Jesus' heart.
Samaria was ultimately the result of the schism between the Northern and southern kingdoms of Israel dating back to the ninth century BC. The northern kingdom came to be called Israel in the southern kingdom came to be called Judah. Jerusalem was in the southern kingdom, and because of the pilgrimage feasts the people of the north were traveling to the south on a regular basis. This pose problems for the northern leaders, and they wanted to protect their control. So they set up high places and worship centers, all around the northern kingdom, but particularly at Mount Gerazim. As the decades unfolded the Judaism of the north became combined with all kinds of other world religions, and obviously became a very different kind of Judaism as a result. By the time of Jesus, a godly Jew and certainly a rabbi, would never travel through Samaria and would instead take much longer route around it. To make the story, even more scandalous, Jesus stops at Jacob’s well outside the city of Sychar and talks to a Samaritan woman about her spirituality! John doesn’t tell us when but at some point Jesus becomes aware that she’s also been married five times and is living with another man. Talk about people who would’ve definitely been marginalized by every first century rabbi!
But this event is such a giant window into the heart of God, and how much he loves everyone, but particularly the marginalized. Imagine being this unnamed woman who meets the son of God, and because of Jesus’s kindness and powerful prophetic word comes to believe that Jesus is the Messiah. Then she goes back to Sychar and shares about Jesus as Messiah to those who’ve historically marginalized her as well. Only God can change a heart like that!
God doesn't change!
The stunning reality is that God’s heart has never changed. He loves you and everyone around you the same way. It doesn’t matter who we are or what we’ve done. Is anything keeping you from taking the next step in your personal journey with Jesus? Are there people in your life right now that need to hear what God is doing in your life? In the sermon I asked some questions that get at the heart of our current experience of Jesus. Do we carry shame from a sin in the past? Do we have guilt from a sin in the present? Do we carry shame from struggling with the same sin repeatedly? Are we following a spiritual path that is no longer working because it is a deviation from the way of Jesus and His gospel?
You see this account of Jesus shows us that only he can fill us, satisfy us, and free us.
This was true in the first century and it is true in the 21st-century. Why not take a moment and pray about what God is speaking to you now? Why not take a moment and pray about what God is speaking into you right now. He is always for you, and never against you. Jesus wants to take you deeper and further than you’ve ever been in your relationship with him. Only he can forgive us and take the shame away. Go ahead and pray, he can’t wait to talk with you.