The lesson today comes from yet another conversation I had with someone last week questioning their “worthiness.”
This man stated to me that he had done “a lot of wrong” in his life and didn’t feel like God would care for someone such as him. After all, he had sinned; he had committed crimes; he had been in fights (many); he even served time in jail.
He said to me: “I’ve read the Bible. I know what it says about how we are supposed to treat people and I haven’t done anything worthy of forgiveness from God.”
My obvious response was,“Okay, so you’re a sinner. I’ve got some news for you friend… so am I!” I went on to tell him all the things I had done in my life and, if I were to think like him, I too was “unworthy” of forgiveness from such a loving God.
But I had good news for him. Believe it or not, we are exactly the type of people God sent His one and only Son down to rescue from ourselves.
Luke 5:32 – “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.”
Do you think God favors one man over another?
The Apostle John
The Apostle John (also known as Saint John) was one of Jesus Christ’s 12 disciples, and a prominent leader in the early Christian church. Along with James and Peter, John was one of Jesus’ closest confidants, so he appears in more biblical accounts than the other disciples.
John is traditionally regarded as the author of five books of The Bible: The Gospel of John, the epistles 1 John, 2 John, and 3 John, and the Book of Revelation.
More About John
- John was a fisherman along with his brother James.
- John is known as, “The Disciple whom Jesus Loved.”
- John is one of the three Disciples Jesus kept closest. Peter and James are the others.
- John is considered a “pillar” in the church along with Peter and “the other” James (Jesus’ brother)
- Before He dies on the cross, Jesus asked John to take care of His mother, Mary.
- According to church tradition, John is the only Apostle who died of natural causes (the rest were martyred).
So, what two important lessons did John offer us? How does John explain that Jesus didn’t “take sides?”
Jesus Teaches Nicodemus
Nicodemus was a Pharisee and a member of the Sanhedrin mentioned in three places in the Gospel of John: He first visits Jesus one night to discuss Jesus’ teachings.
John 3:1-2 – “Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night (as he feared the council) and said, ‘Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.’
Nicodemus appears to me as the only senior-ranking official within the Jewish Council who recognized the things that Jesus had done were more assuredly from God.
He saw the signs before his very face! He saw the deaf given hearing; he saw the blind given sight; he saw the lepers healed… and he knew, this could only be done by someone who was “with God!”
3Jesus replied, ‘Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.’
4‘How can someone be born when they are old?’ Nicodemus asked. ‘Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!’
Nicodemus was not understanding what Jesus was trying to tell him. He was only thinking like a man would think and not like a child of God. (as we all are!)
5-7Jesus answered, ‘Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’
Jesus is trying to make Nicodemus understand that the “rebirth” He was talking about, was the birth of allowing (and accepting) The Holy Spirit to enter in us.
8The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.’
We have talked about this many times here at our Little Church. We may not ever see it but we, the believers, know it is among us always. “Perhaps not seeing, but believing anyway” as Jesus said to Thomas (Doubting Thomas) in John 20:29 – “Then Jesus told him, ‘Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.’”
How many here today can say that this is you? Do you believe though you have not seen? It is what our Lord has asked us to do! As for me, I choose to believe.
9‘How can this be?’ Nicodemus asked.
Imagine how Jesus must have felt at this point. Here He is, telling Nicodemus the secrets of the Holy Kingdom, yet he still seems unwilling to believe!
10-11‘You are Israel’s teacher,’ said Jesus, ‘and do you not understand these things? Very truly I tell you, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony.
It seems as though Jesus was getting a little frustrated with Nicodemus at this point, don’t you think? Imagine us today… if we had been able to see what Nicodemus had seen, how much stronger would our faith be today?
12-15I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man. Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.’”
You see what He said there at the end of that verse? “That everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.”
Jesus was clearly offering this gift to Nicodemus. The same gift that He offers to all of us. Eternal Life!
This was all from John 3:1-15. We, of course, all know the next verse John 3:16.
We’ve just seen where Jesus offered His gracious gift to a High-Priest in the Jewish Council. As much as Nicodemus may have had, and I’m sure that was quite a bit, Jesus knew he was lacking what he truly needed… and Jesus offered this freely of Himself.
Jesus Talks with a Samaritan Woman
Let’s move on to the next chapter inJohn, Chapter 4. Here is another place where Jesus offers the same gift He offered Nicodemus, not to a High-Priest, but a “lowly woman” at the well.
Samaritans believed Judaism and the Jewish Torah had been corrupted by time and no longer serve the duties God mandated on Mount Sinai.
Why did Jesus go through Samaria? Other Jews would have walked around it, for it was a sinful society. But Jesus, had a reason!
John 4:4-6 – “Now he had to go through Samaria. So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon.
Imagine that! Jesus was “tired!” What does that tell you about being “tired?” Clearly it cannot be a sign of weakness as Jesus was most certainly not a weak man. No, He was instead, the Son of the Most-High God! But even Jesus knew when it was time to rest. Even God Himself rested:
- 1st Day – He created the night and the day.
- 2nd Day – He created the sky and the sea.
- 3rd Day – He created the land and vegetation.
- 4th Day – He created the stars the sun and the moon.
- 5th Day – He created sea creatures and birds.
- 6th Day – He created the animals and man.
- 7th Day – What did God do? …He rested!
So, what does all this tell you? Its okay to be tired. Its okay to rest. This is not a sign of “resignation!” This isn’t that you have “given up!” Its merely a time of resting and there is NO weakness in that!
That’s another lesson entirely… I digress, let’s get back to John 4…
7When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, ‘Will you give me a drink?’
9The Samaritan woman said to him, ‘You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?’ (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)
In Jesus’ time, this would have been considered appalling! No Jew, in their right mind, would ask a Samaritan for anything. Samaritans were far below the Jews. But Jesus had something else in mind.
10Jesus answered her, ‘If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.’
Do you see where Jesus is going with this? He is reminding this woman who God really is (Loving and Compassionate) and what He has to offer even her.
11-12‘Sir,’ the woman said, ‘you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?’
Just like Nicodemus she seems a little miffed. Who is this man questioning her and how dare he think he is above her ancestors!
13-14Jesus answered, ‘Everyone who drinks this water (pointing at the well) 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.’
Again, Jesus is offering His gift, the gift of His Father.
15The woman said to him, ‘Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.’
I’m guessing that perhaps this woman was probably a bit sarcastic in the way she says this. I think she too is tired and would rather not have to lug water back and forth from this well. But she still isn’t quite getting the message Jesus is trying to teach her.
Jesus is on to her…
16He told her, ‘Go, call your husband and come back.’
1a7‘I have no husband,’ she replied.
17b-18Jesus said to her, ‘You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.’
How would you react to that one? Here you are, talking to a complete stranger, and they’ve just told you some very personal information about yourself that even some of your closest friends may not have known.
Now, she is beginning to “see the light!”
19-20‘Sir,’ the woman said, ‘I can see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.’
Now she is starting to trust this stranger that is “preaching” to her but she is unclear about “worship” as, if you remember, the Samaritans thought the Torah had been “corrupted” and really didn’t know how or where she was supposed to worship.
Jesus’ response to her might clear up a few questions you all have regarding the same subject. After all, we “worship” under a tent; at a bar; in the heat and humidity and, very often, surrounded by the rain. Are we wrong?
Let’s listen to Jesus…
21-24‘Woman,’ Jesus replied, ‘believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.’
I don’t know about you but that is pretty much telling us all the way God wants to be worshipped. It isn’t about the place, it’s all about the “in the spirit and in truth!”
25The woman said, ‘I know that Messiah (called Christ) is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.’
26Then Jesus declared (with opened arms), ‘I, the one speaking to you—I am he.’”
Before this time, Jesus had only spoken of Himself as the “Son of Man” but here, in front of this lowly woman… He reveals Himself as “The Messiah,” and we know.
John Writes with a Purpose
We have just read through two chapters in John where Jesus offers the gifts of God to two very different people. John wrote of Nicodemus in Chapter 3 and immediately followed-up in Chapter 4 with the story of the Samaritan woman at the well.
One, a very high member of the Jewish Council (Nicodemus) who had all the writings of the Torah available to him. He knew the importance of worship and strived each day to be in accordance with the Commandments of God.
Nicodemus recognized Jesus as something more than a Prophet. He knew, based on what he had seen, that Jesus was truly “with God” as the things He had accomplished simply could not be done without God’s Holy guidance and intervention.
Jesus, knowing Nicodemus’ yearning to know Him, offered him the gift of The Holy Spirit or being born again in The Spirit.
What did He ask of Nicodemus? He asked for his faith.
Samaritan Woman at the Well
John’s second story was about the Samaritan woman at the well. She, in the opinion of all around her (especially the Jews), was nothing but a lowly woman guilty of terrible sins: 5 husbands and now living in sin with another.
Jesus saw her confusion… knew of her sin, but still offered to her the gift of His Water. He extended to her the quenching of her thirst with the “spring of water welling up to eternal life” and taught her how to worship.
What did he ask of this woman? He asked for a drink of water which was essentially, to give herself up to Him.
John was clearly pointing out how great Jesus’ Love is for us; how great God’s Love is…
- No matter who we are or what we were…
- No matter what we do for a living…
- No matter how much money we do or don’t have…
- No matter what we’ve done in the past…
God Loves Us!
Watch this Lesson
You have just seen the truth. Jesus does not only bestow the gifts only He can give (those from the Heavenly Kingdom) to the rich or the priviledged, His gifts are for ALL mankind. In our God’s eyes, we are all worthy once we have accepted Christ into our lives.
Give thanks to God every day for what you have been given. Thank the Lord Jesus Christ for His compassion and the great sacrifice He made so you might have the gifts of The Father.
Like He asked Nicodemus… Give God your faith and be filled with The Holy Spirit. Be reborn in the spirit of truth and righteousness; accepting the lessons of Christ; filling your hearts with the same Love and compassion that He has for you so you might do the same to others.
Like He asked of the Samaritan woman… Give drink (yourself) to Jesus. In turn, take His water; let it fill you up and sustain you every day of your life until that day He calls you home into the presence of The Father; walking beside The Son for all eternity!
Forget about your past! You are NOT unworthy of God’s Love as you have accepted The Lord Jesus Christ as your Savior… your Redeemer… and your Brother as a child of God. And you ARE Blessed!
Go with God; be good to one another; always stay humble; always be kind… God Bless (Amen)!