BIBLE INSIGHTS in 500 Words
Jesus: The Gift of God
I ran across a story in the writings of N.T. Wright:
A young teenager described what happened when he announced to his atheistic mother that he had become a Christian. Alarmed, she thought he had joined some kind of a cult. “They have brainwashed you!” She said.
He was ready with the right answer. “If you had seen what was in my brain, you would realize it needed washing.”
Of course, he had not been brainwashed. In fact, our secular culture is capable of brainwashing us. The culture persuades us in a thousand subtle ways that the present world we can see and touch is the only world. This is so common in our culture that it is much easier to go along with it. And, that is precisely what happens in brainwashing (NT Wright, John for Everyone, Part 1).
The gospel sends a sharp jolt to kick-start our thinking and engage our moral awareness so that it is working properly. This is what happened to the woman who met Jesus. Jesus approaches the woman with tenderness and compassion, as a bridegroom would approach his bride (see https://www.mysoulpurpose.org/jesus-is-the-bridegroom). His behavior was outside the bounds of appropriateness.
First Jesus was known as a holy man. He was leading a movement to bring Israel back to God. In that culture, devout Jewish men would not allow themselves to be alone with a woman let alone enter into conversation. The risks included impure thoughts, gossiping neighbors, or immoral behavior. When the disciples returned they “were surprised to find him talking with a woman” (John 4:27).
Second, the woman was a Samaritan, and “Jews do not associate with Samaritans” (John 4:10). When the Jewish people return from exile some 500 years earlier, they found their home occupied by a group of people who claimed to be true descendants of Abraham. They were a marriage mixt of Jews who evaded exile and outsiders who moved into a land. Over the years, animosity between these two groups broke out into skirmishes, bloodshed, and murder. But most of the time it was simply a matter of not mixing. This is especially true of eating and drinking. Yet, “Jesus said to her, ‘Will you give me a drink?’” (John 4:7)
Third the woman had a bad reputation. The normal time for women to visit the well was early morning or late evening. She had come at noon in order to avoid the wagging fingers and tongues of the other women. The last thing she wanted was to rub shoulders with her neighbors.
To the Samaritan woman, Jesus responded,
“If you knew the gift of God and
who it is that asks you for a drink,
you would have asked him and
he would have given you living water”
Jesus offers the gift of God, “For God so loved the world that he gave…” (John 3:16).