Monday, June 2, 2014

Extending the Invitation 6/2/2014 (rp)

"When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, 'Will you give me a drink?'  (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)  The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)"  Jn 4:7-9 (NIV)

Beloved, the gospel is not a secret and Christianity is not some sort of exclusive club (insofar as that everyone is welcome).  In fact, it could be compared to the Ark on which Noah vigorously invited everyone to join him and his family due to the impending deluge.  Noah cared for his fellow man.  It could just as easily be compared to a hospital where the sick are invited to come for healing (which everyone could use in some form).  Doctors, nurses and hospital staff are dedicated to this pursuit.  The key to both of these analogies is the invitation.  The key to the invitation, with the understanding that love and compassion drives it, is how it is made.

Jesus, our great example and inspiration did three great things to extend the ultimate invitation.  First, he went where he would not normally go.  There was a hundreds of years old schism between Jews and their compromised relatives, the Samaritans.  Samaria was avoided by Jews and the name was often used as an insult.  Samaritans in turn felt the same way about the Jews.  So it was completely out of what would be expected for someone of Jesus' knowledge and de facto authority to even be in Samaria.

Second, Jesus did what he might not normally have done.  It was highly unusual for someone who was considered a rabbi to be in a private conversation with a woman, particularly one who was "involved."  Speaking of involved, Jesus later demonstrates knowledge that she is co-habitating with a man that is not one of the 5 husbands she has had.  Some even accuse her of harlotry.  Added to this, he asked her for a drink.  Because the passage later reveals that he had nothing with which to draw water, he could only have drunk after her or use her vessel.  There are all kinds of ceremonial purity issues here, nevertheless, Jesus, because of his great love, was some place he should not have been, doing something he should not have done.  This is said from the standpoint that once his apostles returned and came upon this scene, they had some serious unarticulated questions, but would not even acknowledge the presence of the woman.

Finally, Jesus met her in the location and the condition that she was.  It was entirely unlikely that she would ever leave her confines to seek Jesus for the truth.  She did not even know who he was and she had her own understanding of truth (vs. 20).  It was therefore necessary that if she was to ever experience the safety of the Ark or the cures associated with the hospital someone had to make the information known.  Someone had to go to where she was and minister to her even in her sinful condition in a loving way.  Jesus has done the same thing for you.  Will you do likewise for someone else?  Will you extend yourself to extend the invitation?



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