GNB 2.53

March 3, 2023


For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ Jesus. It is the power of God to bring salvation to everyone who believes; first to the Jew and then to the Greek [read ‘to the rest of the world].” (Romans 1.16)


As I listen to Jesus tell the story of the “Woman at the Well,” I am both reminded and urged to promote the impetus of Jesus’ new command: love one another. You see, within the Judaism of Jesus’ day, Samaritans were an anathema to those who pursued and practiced Judaism. The greatest failing of Judaism in Jesus’ day was exposed in their lack of understanding of the teachings of Moses and the Prophets. They derived their interpretation of the Law and the Covenant based upon the convention of “inclusivity.” Don’t get me wrong, inclusion is not the real danger. As with most everything, all things in moderation…except for one’s faith in God. That reality is one to which we are called to embrace with all our heart, soul, mind, body and strength. Having faith in God is intended to be a “full body” experience. By that, I will intimate that having such inclusive faith in God is intended for the full body of Christ. Every member of the body of Christ, the community of faith in Christ Jesus, should seek for their faith to be inclusive of every aspect of their lives. But, we must also extend our understanding of the “body of Christ” to those who are the “extended members.” In John’s gospel we are reminded of the words of Jesus concerning “the vine.” He said, “I AM the vine and you are the branches. Abide in Me and you will bear much fruit. The truth is that apart from Me you will not be able to bear fruit that is bound for eternal life.” (John 15.5ff) Interesting is that the branches do not generate themselves nor generate fruit on their own. Their life is dependent on the vine itself. Jesus would think of the leaders of the Temple and the teachers of the Law in this manner. They had separated themselves from the very vine of God’s Word by adhering to Moses as the true vine when, in fact, Moses was merely a branch. Jesus would speak with sadness at the truth about them that they had all the information needed to know that He was God’s Messiah. That knowledge came from the words of Moses. Those words were the fruit of the relationship which existed between Moses and God. By faith, Moses was grafted back into the vine of God’s promise. His exile from Egypt by the command of Pharaoh did not change the truth that those who would believe in Yahweh Elohim would be blessed. Pharaoh himself was given that opportunity to believe and become one of the “family of God.” He refused, of course, and for his lack of faith in God many in Egypt died needlessly. His spiritual cowardice was in evidence before and after the Hebrews set off for the Promised Land. There in the presence of Moses was the testimony of becoming a true believer and follower of God, the Father of Heaven and earth. God, the One True God, did not will the death of anyone but executed the justice which was required for those who refused His Word and His offer by acting contrary to the invitation. The invitation was inclusive: all who believe may receive.

It was also exclusive. Its exclusivity exists in that there can only be “one way.” We, as mighty ones of God in Christ Jesus, know of His teaching that says “I AM the way, the truth and the life and no one can enter into the eternal presence of the Father except that they come by Me.” (John 14.6) The failure of today’s “inclusion” culture and climate is at the level of exclusion. In both extremes of exclusivity we find the failure of “inclusion.” On the one hand we have the opportunity to be included “when you become just like me.” All things have to be the same in thought, attitude, appearance and action. Judaism as it came to be in the days of Jesus had this failing. Those “laws,” rituals and routines (especially those promoted by the Pharisees), were the structures of conformity. If you did not conform to that structure then you were not a true follower of God, a Jew. You were thus excluded by the rule of inclusion. Even Jesus was found to be in the excluded group because He did not obey their understanding of the practice of the Law. We can especially see this when it comes to the Sabbath. The very fact that Jesus would work on the Sabbath, even if He was doing good things, was an affront to the Jewish leadership. He was a rule breaker, a law violator and most of all a blasphemer. On the other hand, the loss of exclusivity which occurs because “all things are good” shows that including anything and everything as viable and purposeful actually dilutes the potential for life. If we do not see this danger happening in our current culture and climate as children are being exposed to the myriad of “all things are good” mentality of tolerance and inclusion, then we are blind to the fact that one day there will be no next generation.

Now back to the story of the “Woman at the Well.” When Jesus asks her for a drink of water, she replies, “Why do you, a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?” You have to understand this was a vital element in the story as Jesus related it to the disciples. When they had returned from town (yes, a Samaritan town which made them feel “unclean”) with food for themselves and Jesus, they found Him talking to “that” woman. She was already excluded by them because she was a Samaritan. I would not even dare to imagine some of the thoughts they must have had about her when they saw her in the company of their Master. Leave it to say “it wasn’t pretty.” Truth be told, they probably picked up their pace to buffer Jesus from her “advances” or “intrusions.” She was violating their exclusive group. Fortunately for them, Jesus had already led her to the point of leaving. The disciples probably thought “good riddance” or “she should be glad she left before we got here.” They may have even dared to think, “Yeah, she saw us coming and knew better than to hang around here. How dare she!” In their inquiry as to her presence there with Jesus bearing all their thoughts in mind as they asked, Jesus told them of the conversation which He initiated by asking for some water. No doubt the disciples may have stupidly thought “Why did you ask HER for water? Don’t You know who she is?” Uh, duh, it was Jesus. Who knew better than He who SHE was. She was a working woman who made several trips a day to the well to draw water for herself and others. She did so to provide for her and her boyfriend. He was her boyfriend because she already had five failed marriages and wasn’t going to go through that misery again. Literally, Lord only knows what else she had reduced herself to or had been reduced to by others. Others such as those who had a similar mind of the worldly disciples. When Jesus got to the part of the story when He said “I tell you with great conviction, the day will come when we will not worship on this or that mountain but only in spirit and in truth,” the disciples had to be shell-shocked.

Why shell-shocked? So, they were Jews albeit they were not Jerusalem Jews. The possibility exists that each disciple actually represented one of the tribes of ancient Israel. Ten of those tribes, if you remember, were “lost.” They weren’t exactly lost but had been assimilated into the indigenous peoples transplanted into the region by invading kingdoms. The intention had been to so “pollute” the population of Jews that there would be no real confederacy between them. Looking at the names of the some of the disciples would indicate such cultural diversity. They themselves were already a montage of believers representing “all nations.” Even Judas of Kerioth had his own story to tell being from the most southern part of Israel. He was from a region so distant that the feeling of exclusion would have been a motivation to execute their own spiritual justice of sorts on Jerusalem, Israel and perhaps the Savior of them both. But, that is another story. This story was about the ministry of Jesus which was motivated by the calling to “seek and save those who are LOST.” Are you seeing the inclusion of “lost people”? Tribes of Israel- LOST. Disciples of Jesus- LOST. Woman at the well- LOST. Jewish leadership and associates- LOST. Sick and destitute people- LOST. And we haven’t even gotten to foreign nations and cultures- LOST. And we will get to them because Jesus said so. Paul reiterated it in his writing to the Romans, “We are called to preach the gospel first to the Jews and then to the rest of the world!” But, we have to learn how to love one another right here in our own home, backyard, neighborhood, business, school, grocery store, busy street…and lest I forget- the myriad churches, congregations and “spiritual” houses?

Are you starting to get a hint at what Jesus is calling us to be and to do? We will talk about it more tomorrow. Until then, shalom, y’all.


Father, thank You for including even us in Your plan of salvation with a love so great You would even sacrifice Your own Son on our behalf that we might have life and have it eternally as we believe in You and in Him. Amen.

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