I am guessing you too have noticed the bumper sticker reading, “Start Seeing Motorcycles.” Well, that is working. I am really noticing them more, I can’t help seeing one and thinking of that bumper sticker. So it caused me to think maybe I should commission a company to make a bumper sticker with the phrase, “Start Seeing Hurting People.”Maybe it would raise our awareness of the pain of suffering that is all around in our town, in our neighborhoods and even in our pews. With that awareness in mind this blog today is about doing outreach from the perspective of if you want to truly make a kingdom impact (again with the doctrine of salvation in mind the Holy Spirit converts we do not.) we need to start seeing hurting people. In the encounter, Jesus had with the woman at the well in John 4, he did something amazing he shows us how to notice hurting people. Today we will examine just how he did that. Here is a portion of that conversation:
Jesus: Would you draw water, and give Me a drink?
Woman: I cannot believe that You, a Jew, would associate with me, a Samaritan woman; much less ask me to give You a drink. Jews, you see, have no dealings with Samaritans.(The Voice)
Jesus saw her through spiritual eyes.
If Jesus looked at her through the eyes of culture, he would have seen only this about her, she was unclean, she had a very questionable past. She was a woman, who in that culture alone, meant she had a second class status just by virtue of her gender. Now add to that her moral issues of having had five husbands, which was two more that society allows and culturally she was the one the Lord should have just ignored.
If Jesus saw her through the eyes of history, she and her entire Samaritan clan were enemies of the Jews. As one historian recounts, “The woman reminded him that Jews and Samaritans had no social dealings. This situation dated back to 722 b.c. when the Assyrian captivity was concluded by Sargon, who resettled nearly thirty thousand people from Samaria to other points in the Assyrian Empire. They were replaced by captives from other countries, and a pluralistic culture of sorts developed. Any Jew would become ceremonially unclean by using a vessel handled by a Samaritan.”
Viewing this woman through the eyes of history she was unclean. If Jesus views her through social eyes this conversation should have never taken place. The person with whom he spoke was not only a Samaritan but a woman. For a Jewish man to speak to a Samaritan woman was unheard of, and she probably had never experienced a similar conversation. She represents an oppressed minority, still a common reality in many Middle Eastern culture. But Jesus was neither racist nor sexist. He knew that his question would lead to far more than an exchange of words and water.
Jesus did not see anyone who was an outcast. He didn’t see a woman who, by making contact with her, would make him unclean. What Jesus saw was an opportunity to share the hope that we have in being united with Jesus in his kingdom.
Jesus respected but did not judge her journey.
Jesus pushed all metaphors aside and dealt in straight talk. Like this woman, we must recognize our sin and understand that God sees us for what we are, broken and weighed down by sin and guilt. This woman lived outside the boundaries of any religious or cultural standards of her day. Confronted by the sting of the law through Jesus’ penetrating analysis of her moral condition, the woman like so many of us would change the subject. Let’s talk about religion, where is the proper place of worship? As we encounter hurting people with social and moral backgrounds outside of our religious norms, be prepared for the conversation quickly becoming uncomfortable. How you handle those conversations may determine if this relationship moves forward.
As we encounter hurting people with social and moral backgrounds outside of our religious norms, be prepared for the conversation quickly becoming uncomfortable. How you handle those conversations may determine if this relationship moves forward.
Jesus chose to not judge her checkered past, but instead offer her a different path.
Jesus offers the hurting a different path.
Dr. Martin Luther, suggested the conversation should have gone this way, “I would be happier to reverse the order and give you a drink. In fact, this is the reason for My presence here. I am asking for a drink to quench My physical thirst that I might have occasion to give you a drink. If you only realized what a gift is now to be found on earth, you would ask Me for it, and I would give you a drink that would taste better than this water. It is of the utmost importance to recognize this gift and to know Him who gives it. But neither the gift, nor the Giver is known.” 1 Our outreach is meant to point people to the gift, faith in the redeeming work of Christ Jesus and the giver, God the Father who sent his Son to redeem the hurting.
So we pray that God will give us the spiritual eyes to start seeing hurting people.
1Luther, M. (1999). Luther’s works, vol. 22: Sermons on the Gospel of St. John: Chapters 1-4. (J. J. Pelikan, H. C. Oswald, & H. T. Lehmann, Eds.) (Vol. 22, p. 525). Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House.
Written By: B. Keith Haney
Husband for 25 years, Father of six, Mission catalyst helping plant new churches and congregations find shepherds. All the while serving an Awesome God for the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod in Northern Illinois.