Last week’s post touched on the Samaritan woman at the well, who was–surprisingly to me at least–the first person in history to hear Jesus clearly proclaim he was the messiah.
It’s an amazing thought: Of all whom Jesus could have chosen, he picked a woman with relationship issues and a morality problem to tell the news Israelites had been waiting for throughout the generations.
But there is a second decision Jesus made in this moment. I point out in another post that when Peter declared Jesus to be the Christ (Luke 7, Matthew 8), Jesus tells the disciples not to tell others. This took place after Jesus talked to the woman at the well.
Common sense tells me that if the disciples were asked not to tell this news (yet), the woman at the well–getting the same news–would be told the same. Common sense.
But when Jesus tells the woman at the well, “I who speak to you am he”–telling her he is the awaited messiah of Israel–he says nothing to her about keeping quiet.
It was as if he wanted her to tell her story. And she did.
This was a conscious decision, I’m sure. It’s not as if Jesus just “forgot” to tell her to keep quiet.
In today’s language, Jesus made a business decision. For the sake of argument, let’s call Jesus’ message, “Jesus, Inc.” His company–in our hypothetical world–has a mission to share the plan of reconciliation with God.
And his first choice in marketing this message? The first person chosen to spread the word? A Samaritan woman with all kinds of issues.
Not to beat myself up here, but this is not the person I would have chosen.
I’m not alone. There’s not a company out there which would knowingly choose one of society’s cast offs as Spokesperson #1 for its products. Oh, companies may choose celebs with moral issues as the face of a brand, sure. But an average Joe Schmoe with a line of failed relationships and no community standing never gets a second look.
Jesus not only gave her an opportunity; he chose her first. This is incredible.
I can’t give some great theological treatise on why Jesus chose to allow the Samaritan woman to be–in a sense–his first evangelist. All I know is she went out and told the people in the city, and John 4:39 points out “From that city many of the Samaritans believed in him because of the word of the woman who testified, ‘he told me all the things that I have done.'”
The Greek word for “believed” isn’t about just intellectual assent (“I agree, he is the messiah. No biggie either way.”) In this context, “believe” means to “trust in, rely on, adhere to.” These people turned into followers of this man; the messiah she talked about.
So why did he choose her? Two thoughts, without trying to be an expert.
First, I think Jesus looks at the heart. Just as his Father–God–saw a heart in David when others just saw a kid, Jesus saw a heart underneath all of the troubles this woman carried with her. May I do the same in my life, looking at the heart instead of the outside.
Second, Jesus perhaps knew this whole enterprise–the church he was building–was about him. He knew this woman would talk about Jesus, without making it all about her. Perhaps this is why so often it is the least likely people who change the world.
This web site is about a 1st Faith, trying to capture the thinking and the power of that early church. If we can think like they thought, talk like they talked (translating this to the 21st century), focus on what they focused on–we can create a revived church which turns the world upside down again.
I believe this. I hope you do as well.
But to truly pursue this 1st Faith, I’ve got to look at people differently. The people with “issues” I might try to avoid may be the very ones Jesus wants to use most.
Because when those with the most challenges are turned upside down by the power of the good news, the world takes notice.
The Samaritan Woman had tons of problems. But when she met the messiah, her life changed and those around her took notice. Then, many others began to follow, too.
Hmmm. It’s time to change my outlook on people, in a major way. Because I never know who Jesus might choose next.