I was offered a slice by one, and a different slice by another – John 4 being eked out slice by slice. And being curious I jumped right in (http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=john+4&version=NIV)
Confused disciples, a lady with five and a half husbands, a well in the burning heat of the day, a slightly petulant Jesus, a whizz bang road trip, and a lot of fun to read. What a gorgeous chapter this is!
A lady (who is “that woman”) and Jesus having a private conversation.
(As I was reading I was so praying that the conversation recorded in verses 7-26 are real. So praying it is not the amalgamation of editors and “he said she said” reporting at a later point in time)
“He told me everything I ever did.” verse 39 – She tells her family and friends! Can you hear her tone of voice? He told me everything I ever did. What a beautiful sentence. Made even more beautiful as the Messiah seems so totally disinterested in “sin” – unlike every commentator since.
”Could someone have brought him food?” verse 33 – The good old disciples. Their almost permanent state of confusion! Sent off to find food, and come back to find they are out of the loop again! Don’t you just love them for being so like me and you?
“I sent you to reap what you have not worked for … you have reaped the benefits of their labor.” Verse 38 – What a fantastic statement! Making disciples in context. A team effort. Timeless! Back to Genesis and all the way to eternity. A caution for all who take this command to “disciple.” You are reaping anothers’ work. That is all. That is all it can ever be.
“So the sower and the reaper may be glad together.” verse 36 – And then this! WOW and WOW again!
Is this my God of Love pulling us from our knees with our bowed heads – drawing us up to stand with Him? This does not smack of “obedience”, this does not smack of “rules”, there is no “counting – and a recount please” as to whether we are good enough. Simply be glad TOGETHER!
Then a quick trip back to the old homestead. His old stamping ground. Now the man who can, the hero who has, the “I knew him when he were just a young lad“ association with greatness. Along with a worried royal.
“Unless you people … you will never believe.” verse 48 – It must be tough. We burn out our young superstars so quickly nowadays, and they are insulated with limousines and helicopters and first class travel. All Jesus had was a dusty road and the blazing sun – and his confused disciples. I so love the “human side” of Jesus!
There is so much humanity, humour, love, and freedom in this chapter.
Why then do we spend all that energy and “gratitude” at being saved (Hallelujah – let me hear you … HALLELUJAH!) – only to revert to sacrifice, a heavy burden, sin and how we all are miserable sinners, must be obedient, must do work (so much work) … and all that “I am Not Good Enough” stuff even while we are saying “Thank You.”
What happened to the good bits. The bits that God so wishes we would get. When He draws us to Him: “So the sower and the reaper may be glad together.”
Did I mention: “Whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst” and that “The water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
Have we forgotten that this is free? The very act, the very essence of True Love means it is free. A Love so Great that being nailed to a rough cross, suffering a barbaric death, all these dusty miles, all these “give us a sign” years of ministry … all of that came out of True Love – without any obligation or debt. It is Free.
Where is the burden in that? Where is the debt we have to repay? Why is it we gather together and praise our God because we are unworthy?
How many more Lents of gratitude and penance and sacrifice will it take? There is no deal. There is no debt. There is simply Love. And when that inflows and outflows to even a diluted version we see in God Jesus (“who tells [us] everything we ever did”) isn’t that what He yearns for? Isn’t that what we yearn for?
“So the sower and the reaper may be glad together.”
All of us “need” relationship. Almost all of us are in a relationship, have been in a relationship, or will be in a relationship. Of love. The best we can do kind of love.
So do you really yearn for your partner to repay The Debt (of you simply loving them)? Don’t you wish they love you for who you are. Enjoy who you are. Let you be who you are? Isn’t that what you wish they have from you?
So I am curious. How we can any of us go into church today singing praises and praying humbly – because “we owe Him”?
How is that Love? How is that God?