So often, we want to read ourselves into the Gospels as the faithful followers of Jesus. Those standing in the background saying, “You get ’em, Jesus. You tell ’em.” Unfortunately, the reality is usually quite different from our imaginations. More often than not, our actions and affections line us up more closely with the Pharisees than with the ‘rabble’.
John the Evangelist records the account of Jesus interacting with what is quite possibly the lowest rung of the 1st century Palestine social ladder, a Samaritan woman. The Gospels are chock full of the establishment’s opinion of Samaritans. Take John 8:48 for example. The “Jews” ask Christ “Are we not right in saying that you are a Samaritan and have a demon?” This doesn’t sound like much of a compliment.
In studying John 4 recently, the question came to mind “Who have I treated as a Samaritan?” Who have I – either by my actions or, more likely, by my inaction – counted among those with whom “Jews (or ‘good’ Christians) have no dealings with”? Is it the guy at the gas station who has a few too many tattoos for my liking? Is it the cranky single mother working a double shift at the local greasy spoon so she can by her baby diapers? Is it the disinterested businessman who rejects my invitation to share Christ with him? Is it the stuffy church guy who I assume knows the gospel because I see him in church every week? Who have I treated as either unworthy or not needing to know the truth that Christ died for our sins and saved us by His mercy and grace, not so we can then try to maintain that salvation by our own effort, but to be counted as acceptable before God and to go forward making disciples of all nations?
We are all unworthy of Jesus’ love, mercy, and grace. We are all in desperate need of a Savior Who can not only pay our sin debt, but Who can impute, or add, righteousness to our account. Because of this incomprehensible act of love, we are called to not only share the message of God’s forgiveness in Christ to those who make us feel good about ourselves or who look like us, but to the very ones who we find the most detestable. Our sin was so unbearable in God’s eyes that Christ had to die to make us acceptable to Him. This should cause us to marvel that if Christ can save a wretch like you or me, there must be no soul beyond His reach.