How far will Jesus go to reach sinners? What types of barriers will He break for the worst of the worst? Does He have any extenuating conditions before loving the same people who literally stab His back and spit in His face? I mean, really, as a human - it’s so easy to love someone who loves you… But really consider what it would take for you to love someone who looks at you with hate. That’s what this series, Dyed in the Wool, is all about. Is Jesus’ love for the worst sinners really the same as it is for the people who are so devoted to Him that they’ll be martyrs for Him?
John 4 discusses an interaction Jesus has with a woman at a well. Before reaching the well, it’s important to note that Jesus, a Jewish man, decides to travel right through a region called Samaria. Every Jew, at this time, would do everything they could to avoid Samaria, even if that meant traveling hundreds of miles out of the way because of their complete disdain for Samaritans - a group of people that were a “mixed” race - half Jewish, half not-Jewish. Jesus needed to get to where He was going, Samaria was the quickest route, so He went straight through with no worries of any cultural barriers.
When He arrives to a town called Sychar (located in Samaria), He comes to a well. The time of day was noon, which is important to recognize, because women would normally gather to draw water in the early morning and evening - and this was a social high point of their day, to chit-chat with the other ladies about the latest celebrity dramas, I’m sure... This woman, because of the reputation she built up in her community, most likely wanted to avoid those other women, and decided to go to the well when she knew she would be alone. Jesus, a Jew, walks right up to this Samaritan women (who was known to be living in sin), and strikes up a conversation. This conversation was completely and utterly socially off-limits. A Jewish man openly conversing with a sinful Samaritan woman in public - radically frowned upon.
But He was thirsty, so He asked for a drink - even the woman was completely shocked by this! And in this conversation, Jesus reveals Himself to her. In John 4:13, Jesus shares the eternal spiritual freedom that He offers,
“Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
Jesus goes on to tell her things about her that only a prophet would know. He brings out that He knows about her sins - that she had lived with 6 different men, currently not being married - and what kind of immoral reputation she has built up in her community. At that point, she knew she was speaking to someone special, but still unsure exactly who He was. Finally, in the interaction found in John 4:25-26, Jesus left this woman with no doubts as to who she was conversing with.
The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.” Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you - I am He.”
In this incredible interaction, Jesus broke all the social and cultural boundaries, all to reveal Himself to this woman. In questioning if Jesus has any conditions for loving sinners, know that Jesus breaks barriers to reach you! He tore down all kinds of walls to reveal Himself to the outcast, sinful Samaritan woman - and He breaks barriers to reach you! God entered human form, think of creator of the universe in the body of a helpless baby. Once in perfect paradise, entered a broken world in a human body - all to reach sinners like you and me! He broke social and cultural barriers all throughout His life - challenging religious and political leaders to speak truth. He taught revolutionary things that flipped the world upside down. Jesus breaks barriers to meet you on a personal level, to speak to your heart specifically. He puts certain people in your life for a reason, sends you to places to speak to your heart (i.e. Hume, Forest Home) - all to reveal Himself to you..
Jesus breaks barriers to reach sinners, so what do we do with that? Well first, this is a call and reminder to be thankful. He has done a lot for us sinners, broken all these barriers for us, most importantly broke down the barrier of sin that separates us from the Father. Thankfulness for His barrier-breaking should be routine in our prayer life.
Also, what barriers are you breaking down for non-believers? Jesus broke down barriers to reach you, we should break down barriers to reach others. We’ve talked a lot lately about taking risks to reveal Jesus and having a heart for the spiritually sick. So what barriers are you breaking - what comfort zones are you stepping out of to reach people for Christ? Maybe that means posting something spiritually vulnerable on social media, inviting that friend to church, or taking a stand for what’s right even if its hard.