The more I study the story of Jesus meeting the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4, the more amazed I am at the way Jesus relates to, and connects with, people.
And the more obvious is the contrast between how He addresses the powerful and how He deals with the lowly.
For instance, in John 2 He enters the Temple and, outraged at the corruption and exploitation displayed, makes a whip, overturns the tables of the money changers, and drives the animals out of the Temple courts.
Another time, He was angry at the religious leaders for their hypocrisy and lack of compassion, and deliberately healed a man on the Sabbath in the synagogue, knowing full well that it would provoke them to plot His death [see Mk 3:1-6].
“You snakes, you brood of vipers,” He calls the scribes and Pharisees in Matt 23:33; “Snakes in the grass,” one translation puts it.
‘Gentle Jesus, meek and mild…’ Hmm, maybe not.
‘Aseity.’ Now there’s a word you don’t hear every day of the week.
In fact, I’d bet most of you have never heard the word at all, let alone recently. And I suspect you would be in the vast majority of Christians if you don’t know the word or what it means.
And I also suspect that you’d be in the vast majority if you don’t care what it means either. Let’s face it, a word that rare and unused can’t be very important, can it?
What strange times we find ourselves in. Only two weeks or so ago, it was business as usual here in Australia, even as we heard reports of COVID19 spreading overseas.
One week ago, it was church as usual, albeit with great care taken to sanitise surfaces and avoid the usual hugs and handshakes.
This week, wow! The bombshell has hit, and the floodgates have been blasted wide open.
We had already made the decision to cancel all church gatherings as a matter of prudence and safety for our people. Many churches tried to continue to meet, albeit with significantly reduced congregation sizes.
But as I write this, I hear reports that all church gatherings will be banned. Sunday worship, Connect groups, corporate prayer – all stopped until further notice.
One of the most important aspects of Christian life is the regular gathering together of the saints. Not only does Scripture insist on it (see Heb 10:25, for example), it is part of our growth to health and maturity as believers (see Eph 4:11-16).
How can we possibly fulfill these requirements if we are forbidden to meet together? How are we to grow as Christians if we can’t worship and hear the Word as one body regularly?
How indeed? Has the devil finally found a way to destroy the Church?
You know what my answer to that will be, of course…
Jesus’ disciples were worried about the future. They wanted to know what to look for as a sign that He was on His way back.
“For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will lead many astray. And you will hear of wars and rumours of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for this must take place, but the end is not yet” [see Matt 24:5-6].
Wars and rumours of wars… We don’t have to watch too much TV to see graphic footage of wars in the Middle East and Africa. Nor to hear rumours of wars between the US and Iran. Are they signs of the approaching end?
Well, Jesus said, “Not yet.” But that doesn’t stop apocalyptic cults and doomsday preppers from preparing as if the end was tomorrow. And it doesn’t stop many Christians from being fearful of the end.
But the truth is, these wars are far away from most of us. But there is a war much closer to home; one we tend not to give much thought to; one that should concern us much more than armed conflict in far-flung corners of the globe.