“Now We Know for Ourselves”

Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in Him because of the woman’s testimony,  “He told me everything I ever did.”  So when the Samaritans came to Him, they urged Him to stay with them, and He stayed two days.  And because of His words many more became believers.

They said to the woman,  “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.”  John 4: 39-42.

The testimony of others catches our interest, but it’s our owning the message which brings it to our hearts in a way which makes sense.  For the gospel to mean anything to us at all we have to own it, it has to become personal.  All the theological dancing will not make up for experiencing Jesus.  All the argument, intellectual posturing or reasoning won’t make up for the spiritual blindness or cataracts keeping us from seeing clearly.

The people in the town of Sychar saw for themselves the power of both Jesus’ words and miracles.  The woman, however, was convinced after one conversation in which He simply spoke the truth in a completely loving way, not once sidestepping her sin or condemning her for it.  Instead Jesus showed compassion, willingness to show her a way out of her trap and appreciation for her honesty.  Yes, she was honest by saying “I have no husband”, though she failed to mention the other facts as well.  Yet it was her honesty that gained Jesus’ praise.  She didn’t want to go into detail with a stranger, as well she shouldn’t, but when He came back with the details for her, it shocked the resistance right out of her, I think.

It wasn’t the fact of Jesus knowing her past that impressed her as much as His matter of fact way of revealing it to her.  He didn’t go into any sermons about how hot hell was, didn’t tell her she better shape up or ship out, never once forced her bruised and broken heart to face anymore of her fault than was necessary to show He knew.  He didn’t tell her (and therefore us) who was at fault for her current situation, whether those previous five men or her inability to be faithful.  John doesn’t elaborate or belabor the point either, it was sufficient for her and should be for us as well that Jesus knew and extended heaven in return for her hell.

We are instructed throughout the NT to be like Jesus.  If this, then, is how He treated the outcast sinners, who the hell are we to do any different?  Whoever started the trend of scaring people into repentance should be shot.  It misrepresent our Master’s will in the matter of salvation.  He didn’t come to condemn the world but to save it (see John 3: 17) so those who try to “win” souls using this method need to relearn from the Master.

On the other hand, Jesus never denied a person’s sin.  Even with the woman caught in adultery (see John 8), Jesus told her to go and sin no more, implying that her previous life was sinful.  And I don’t think He exactly expected her to just stop sinning all at once, but to grow towards that goal.

The reason I follow Jesus is because He teaches the contrast between light and dark, good and evil, righteousness and sin, yes, but shows such grace, mercy and forgiveness toward us that I am overwhelmed by the sheer wonder of it.  Jesus provides a safe place to grow up, heal and clean up our lives, which is supposed to be the church.  The problem is the enemy wants us to remain trapped and deceived about both our condition and the way out, so he plants either legalists or liberalists (extremes) in our midst and confuses the faithful with the forcefulness of their message.

The message of the last paragraph is the message of the title of our study:  “Now we know for ourselves…”  The reason confusion reigns so much of the church today is people who don’t understand the message gain power and a soapbox to preach their brand of Christianity.  But once we understand the meaning of the word “Christian,” we will never again allow our knowledge of Jesus be based completely on another’s understanding.  No, we will search the word–O, not like the Pharisees and teachers of the law, but to find Jesus.

In reference to the mistake of the Pharisees and teachers of the law Jesus told them,  “You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life.  These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.”  John 5: 39, 40.  So the point of Scripture, according to ou teacher and Master, is to reveal Him.

We need to know the point of the message before we testify to what have seen and heard.  Our “witness” to others should never be about another person’s experience alone but our own as well.  The woman in our text simply told her story and others came to see for themselves.  Their interest came as a result of the woman’s experience not her deep theological insight; their acceptance came as a result of their experience with Jesus.

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