I love the stories of Jesus in the Gospels. Jesus doesn’t change; He treats people today as He treated them when He walked the earth. So we can learn about how God interacts with us by looking at how Jesus interacted with people on a daily basis. Let’s look at two stories.
At the well
If you’ve never read the story of the woman at the well, have a look at John 4. Traveling through Samaria, Jesus’ disciples go into a local town to buy food. Jesus is tired out; He sits down by a well, and a woman approaches. If Jesus had followed the custom of the day, He would not have spoken to her. Jewish men, especially rabbis, would not speak to ‘strange’ women. More than that, she was a Samaritan – a cultural mix, and someone whose religious beliefs didn’t quite line up with that of the Jews. Also, on a personal level, she was an outcast. Women didn’t usually come to draw water at midday; they came during the morning or evening, when it was cool.
The conversation goes like this:
Jesus: ‘Will you give Me a drink?’
Woman: ‘What? You’re a Jew, I’m a Samaritan. What’s more, I’m a woman – you shouldn’t be talking to me!’
‘If you knew who it was you were speaking to, you’d have asked Him and He’d have given you living water… eternal life.’
She misses the point. ‘Give me this water so I won’t have to keep coming back to this well!’
‘Go, call your husband.’
‘I haven’t got one.’
‘You’re right! You’ve been married five times and the man you’ve got now, you’re not married to.’
She changes the subject. Swiftly!
The interesting thing is that He knows all about her but He doesn’t condemn. He doesn’t accuse. He just points to Himself as the answer she’s been looking for.
We can’t hide anything from Him, but He doesn’t point the finger in judgement. No; He comes alongside, meets us where we’re at, and simply offers something better.
On the road
On the Road to Emmaus (Luke 24), we find two disciples who are clearly disillusioned, having watched the man they thought would save their nation, die on a cross. On top of that, there are rumours flying around that He is alive. They’re understandably confused.
Another conversation begins, as a stranger walks beside them:
‘What are you chatting about?’
They stand still. ‘Are you the only person who doesn’t know what happened here?’ And they explain. Then Jesus shows them Himself, through the Scriptures. They invite Him to stay with them; He does, and as they spend time with Him, they realise who He is.
Spending time with Jesus invariably means you want to get closer.
Sometimes we feel battered by life and our faith doesn’t seem very real. At times like this we don’t always recognise the One who draws near, and comes and shares Himself with us. When life doesn’t make sense, it doesn’t mean that Jesus has let us down or that what we believed isn’t true. But sometimes we do need a reality check, to make sure our ‘version’ of Jesus lines up with what is actually presented to us in the Scriptures, because it is there that we primarily meet Him.
So what does this mean for us? The dialogues above are very real. People in need are approached by Jesus. They don’t know Him, but He knows them. It’s the same for us today. When we take time to nurture our relationship with God, He reveals the truth of who He is.
Maybe you are a bit like the woman (or man) at the well. You have been looking for love, affirmation, but it is elusive; maybe you have tried to fill your life with things – holidays, material goods – but nothing satisfies. It isn’t wrong to want good things, but when we make them the primary goal in our lives, we are setting ourselves up for disappointment; we are made to find our satisfaction in God, first and foremost. Although a good relationship from God is a blessing, another person can never be our ‘Saviour’.
We can so often look for answers in another person (or thing), but if we’re doing that, we’ve got the wrong focus. This summer, ask Jesus to give you the living water, the Holy Spirit. Perhaps you are disillusioned and confused. Spend time with Jesus in His Word, and by talking with Him – and listening; remember, He knows us and He loves us, comes alongside, reveals Himself, and offers us something better.
If you’re a Christian today, you are above all else, a disciple of Jesus. What does that mean for you right now? There are almost certainly people in your ‘circle’ who don’t know Him, and need to know there is a God who loves them personally and individually. Do you know Him like that? Ask Him to reveal Himself to you in a greater way today.
Remember, He saved us at great cost, and His grace – His free, unmerited favour – is ours if we will receive it. When we realise what He has done for us, we should also realise how much He loves us. So let’s trust Him that He knows what’s best for us and follow the path of His choosing… for He Himself is the ‘something better’.
Sheila Jacobs is an award-winning author, writer, editor and speaker. Single, she is currently serving as a deacon in her church. She is passionate about listening to God for others, and loves spending time with friends, retreats, and walking in the beautiful North Essex countryside. Her new book, To Live Again will be available in late August from Darton, Longman and Todd.
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