John 4:1-6 The church must actively reach out to the world, and not to indulge in selfish needs and wants

John 4:1-6 The church must actively reach out to the world, and not to indulge in selfish needs and wants

Therefore when the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John 2 (although Jesus Himself was not baptizing, but His disciples were), 3 He left Judea and went away again into Galilee. 4 And He had to pass through Samaria. 5 So He came to a city of Samaria called Sychar, near the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph; 6 and Jacob’s well was there. So Jesus, being wearied from His journey, was sitting thus by the well. It was about the sixth hour.

Background

Jesus turns His attention beyond Jerusalem, to Samaria, Galilee and beyond. Jesus’s rising profile may have incurred official scrutiny of the Jewish leaders, but He will not allow the Jews’ selfishness and intransigence to stop Him from bringing the gospel to the world. In today’s devotion we learn: The church must actively reach out to the world, and not to indulge in selfish needs and wants.

Observation

Therefore when the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John…

The majority of the Jewish leaders, having rejected God’s purpose for themselves had become wary of John’s growing influence (see Luke 7:30). John’s contention with the Pharisees and the Sadducees was made worse by his harsh words when they came ostensibly to be baptised by him (Matthew 3:7). However, John, by virtue of his calling continually pointed to the coming of One who is mightier than him, who will baptise with the Holy Spirit. Jesus’s rising profile aided by John’s initial introduction no doubt attracted greater scrutiny especially when He was making and baptising more disciples than John. Although the text seems to imply that Jesus’s decision to leave Judea for Galilee was a reaction to Jewish aversion, His decision (on closer observation) is actually born out of purpose, not out of fear. Jesus was recorded in many places as always moving from places to places to preach (see Matthew 4:23;11:1-5, Mark 1:38, Luke 4:43, John 9:4). Galilee was chosen in part because the Galileans were more responsive as compared to the Jews in Jerusalem (see John 4:45). John 4:45 says,

So when He came to Galilee, the Galileans received Him, having seen all the things that He did in Jerusalem at the feast; for they themselves also went to the feast. John 4:45

And He had to pass through Samaria. So He came to a city of Samaria called Sychar.

Jesus had intended to preach in Samaria while en route to Galilee. Hence, He took a direct route from Jerusalem to Galilee through Samaria (note the solid line in the map below). Most Jews took the longer, indirect route east of the River Jordan through Peraea (note the dashed line) because of their disdain for the Samaritans.

Upon arriving Sychar, Jesus rested at a divinely appointed place where he met a woman who was about to bring salvation to the entire city. There Jesus stayed for two days before moving on to Galilee.

Truth

One must always act purposefully, not fearfully.

Jesus’s decision to go to Galilee is so that He may preach the gospel to the people of Samaria and beyond. The Jews’ aversion to Jesus did in part precipitate His decision to move on and fulfil His purpose. Jesus has always acted purposefully in every situation, and never fearfully. The truth is: God is in absolute control of every situation, and to respond in fear is to deny God’s omnipotence, love and wisdom. Therefore, whenever believers face adverse situations, they will do well by calling to mind God’s purposes for them. Adverse and hostile circumstances should not perturb us but rather draw us closer to God to do His will.

More than often, people react to adverse situations by instinctively drawing a beeline to safety. They are driven by fear to take the route of the least resistance to solve the problem. How then should believers perceive circumstances, be it a miracle or adversity? Every circumstance, yields visible signs to God’s intended purpose causing us to respond in faith. However, the Jews’ unbelief despite the many miracles Jesus performed confirms Isaiah’s prophecy in Isaiah 53. Jesus quoted,

These things Jesus spoke, and He went away and hid Himself from them. But though He had performed so many signs before them, yet they were not believing in Him. This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet which he spoke: “Lord, who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” For this reason they could not believe, for Isaiah said again, “HE has blinded their eyes and HE hardened their heart, so that they would not see with their eyes and perceive with their heart, and be converted and I heal them.” John 12:36-40

Yet Jesus, despite the adversity of the cross pressed on in faith, not deviating from it. Adversities for the faithful are signs to soldier on towards the reward. But to the impenitent, adversities are signs of impending destruction calling them to repentance.

The church must actively reach out to the world, and not to indulge in selfish needs and wants.

Jesus left Jerusalem with the mission to reach out to all Judea, Galilee, Decapolis and beyond. For He purposed not to be held back by the Jews’ selfishness and intransigence. Nevertheless, all human beings are selfish. Jesus, after healing many of the sick in Capernaum (Galilee) retreated to a secluded area. However, the locals searched for him and tried to stop Him from leaving. But Jesus said,

“I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, for I was sent for this purpose.” Luke 4:43

The Galileans, albeit more noble than the Jews were still selfishly concerned for their personal interests! They refused to let Jesus take the gospel to the other cities. Therefore, the church must not allow their members to indulge in selfish needs and desires, but to quickly turn their attention to the needs of others. Once believers take their eyes off themselves and focus on the kingdom’s work, God will immediately heal and bless them. For God’s omnipotence flows readily through minds and bodies yielded to the great commission of God.

Indeed, those who respond to the gospel call by immediately reaching out to others will very quickly receive their breakthroughs. But, breakthrough remains remote for those who continue to look to their personal needs and wants.

Application

Do you constantly think of the mission fields your church have been supporting? Jesus desires to walk with those who join Him in the work of the great commission. And He left alone those who are indulgent in personal needs and wants. Supporting the mission fields and charity organisations through financial resources is the least that one can do. Do more by making visits to the field. In so doing, you support them by your sincere presence and fellowship.

Dear Lord, I desire to venture out of my comfort zone to see the needs that are out there. Connect me to charity and mission organisations of choice. As I take concrete steps to reach out to the needy, I believe breakthrough will come very soon. In Jesus’s name I pray. Amen.


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