How Jesus Did Outflow
Jesus is incredible to me. This is true for so many reasons, but the way he operated on this earth is one of the primary ways that he astounds me. The religious people called him a drunk, a glutton, inspired by a demon,and a generally shady guy who hangs out with the wrong characters: easy girls like Mary, loan sharks like Matthew, and the kids in high school who always wear black concert T-shirts and smoke cigarettes just off school property during lunch (Matt. 11:19). He was scandalous. He continually showed grace to those who “didn't deserve it” while doing nothing but rebuking those who had obedience to the scriptures down to a science.
An Outcast Woman And Jesus Meet Over Drinks
One of my favorite examples of how Jesus did Outflow is in John 4. Jesus decides that he “has to” pass through Samaria (John 4:4). Samaria was the ghetto. Samaria was where the undesirables lived. You did not go through Samaria. The Samaritans were a blended people who claimed to still be children of Abraham, but their religion was a blend of pagan and occultic beliefs and practices. Jesus decides that he needs to pass through there and not avoid that region, and on his way he stops at Jacob's well to rest and the disciples go into town to buy lunch. This is when things get interesting. A woman shows up to the well to get some water. We never get her name, but we do gather her reputation. She's a woman of ill repute, who after five failed marriages has now given up and is trading her body for a place to live. She doesn’t even try to engage Jesus, knowing that as a Jew, Jesus would have nothing but disdain for her in his heart. Jesus, crossing every “no appearance of evil” line that existed in his culture, leans in and asks her to give him a drink. I like to think here that the woman just kind of froze before answering him. In this culture, men did not befriend women, Jews did not befriend Samaritans, and Rabbi's definitely didn't talk with people like her, yet Jesus is speaking to her kindly and requesting a favor while treating her as a friend. Not only that, but in asking for this drink he is not only astounding this woman, but also stamping his holy feet all over the religious moral code of that day.
Jesus begins to speak to this woman about salvation, about “living water,” he lovingly but firmly confronts her of her sin (v.16-18), doesn’t allow her to speak half-truths (v. 17), and sees right through her “important theological misgiving” by blowing it out of the water with the truth (v. 21-24). I think most interestingly of all though, Jesus reserves the one time he reveals himself as the promised Old Testament Messiah in the book of John for this women. His boys show back up having successfully found food, and stop short of their Rabbi/Messiah, astounded by what they’re seeing. Seemingly indifferent to the woman, they simply want to know what he thinks he’s doing (v. 27). Born Again, this woman starts her life over and becomes the first evangelist of Jesus’ ministry (v. 29), running through the town that knew her reputation and telling anyone who will listen about the Messiah she met over drinks at Jacob's well.
Taking It Home
We live in a crazy city, located in an even crazier state. It’s beautiful here, but ever populated with people that we in the church view as undesirable, unclean, and insane. As we begin to think about Outflow, about reaching our city with Jesus, it is imperative that we be like Jesus, living freely within the culture as missionaries who are as faithful to the Father and his gospel as Jesus was in his own time and place.
I am advocating not sin but freedom. That freedom is denied by many because we fear that some people will use their freedom to sin against Christ. But rules, regulations, and the pursuit of outward morality are ultimately incapable of preventing sin. They can only, at best, rearrange the flesh and get people to stop drinking, smoking, and cussing, only to start being proud of their morality. Jesus’ love for us and our love for him are, frankly, the only tethers that will keep us from abusing our freedom, they will enable us to venture as far into the culture and into relationships with lost people as Jesus did, because we go with him. Some questions for you to think about this week:
- Who do some Christians in your city consider to be Samaritans? Why do you think some Christians dislike them?
- What parts of your city are like Samaria to you - the places you avoid because you do not like the people who live there?
- Where are the “Jacob’s Wells” and “pagan temples” where the Samaritans of your town hang out?
- How can you go out of your way to build relationships there?