John 4 & the International Presidential Campaign of 2012

Within just the past few weeks the Presidential election in the USA has become international – or at least exposed as international. Like cynical Pontius Pilate we may ask, “What is truth?” To explain the mass of verbiage let’s go to John 4.

Jesus has deliberately walked many miles out of his way to Samaria and he begins a conversation with a Samaritan woman. It reeks of political campaign language. John 4 follows an incident where the Pharisees have lied, knowingly or not we can’t be sure, about Jesus’ behavior. And that is what political campaigns have increasingly become, lying contents, denial contents, or change-the-subject contests.
I’m quoting the Phillips version because he doesn’t mince words. And the conflict of good vs. evil, truth vs. fiction and carnal vs. spiritual is all contained in this seemingly innocuous passage.

John 4:7 a Samaritan woman arrived to draw some water. 8-9 “Please give me a drink,” Jesus said to her, for his disciples had gone away to the town to buy food. The Samaritan woman said to him, “How can you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.)

Argument number 1: Justification by hate.

If anything defines the 2012 campaign it is hate. The pundits believe and promote, “If you disagree with me that is hate speech.” Check the newspaper – and you will see increasing hatred everywhere, such as letters to the editor. To-be-pitied Sarah Palin, not even a candidate, is condemned because she affirms some Bible principles and it is called hate speech. The word used was “vitriol.” Really? Is God’s word vitriol?

The woman at the well does not realize this but she is resisting change by affirming a generations–long animosity between Samaritans and Jews. Without common ground, she also is saying, in effect, you cannot speak to me, because of your attitude. At the foundation of any discussion, and especially possibly about God, is the assumption that the sinner does not want any sin exposed. Presumably if we can get Jesus talking about differences between old enemies or even taking some blame himself we can then take sides with the people we hate less. If we can divert the argument to someone else’s sins, esp. those from history, we will not be talking about the woman’s sin (which will come up soon enough.) If I hear one more time about how I am not accountable because of George Bush’s I will (you fill in the blank,) And maybe too, God is at fault for allowing George Bush to become President. You can see where this is going.

The hate movement of 2012 is now world-wide, the burning of American flags all over the Muslim globe and not condemned elsewhere, the hatred in Sudan, the blossoming anti-Semitism in Germany (we thought this was dead, right?) the hatred between China and Japan which has deep roots, and is, like the woman, a subtle attempt for the leaders in Beijing to get Chinese attention to an old enemy and off the increasing protests of the common man against a fat-cat government. China’s public image of “celestial harmony” is in reality a cacophony of off-key voices – the coolie who is supposed to man-up and obey every whim of a mortally-challenged bureaucracy. The root of bitterness is always available to the alert and frequently opportunistic Statist appealing to the baser emotions of fear, envy, bitterness, hatred, unforgiveness and greed.

Even the Amish, whose 1st principle is to keep oneself untainted by the world, {Romans 12:2} went to court over hate speech, i.e. cutting beards. When the Amish fall from grace, we should pay attention.

Jesus refuses to answer on the level of emotion. An emotion-based campaign is bound for failure as the issues before the voters are based not on feelings but on the reality of governance. An ever-alert media certainly does not want anyone looking at issues since their lazy reporting standards are part of the problem. But I digress.

Jesus does not allow her to change the subject. His point is not what culture says, but what God says. He is asking individuals to make a stand.

J10 “If you knew what God can give,” Jesus replied, “and if you knew who it is that said to you, ‘Give me a drink’, I think you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water!”

Jesus shifts the focus. “Living water” is a free-flowing stream. Well-water is not necessarily contaminated but it is not flowing. He is saying, I am not going to talk politics, history, or emotion but about the position and accountability of God.

Argument 2: Process

11-12 “Sir,” said the woman, “you have nothing to draw water with and this well is deep—where can you get your living water? Are you a greater man than our ancestor, Jacob, who gave us this well, and drank here himself with his family, and his cattle?”

Who owns the well is immaterial. It is the water you drink not the plat plan.

As you might suspect, she reverts to type – let’s talk about process, about how you are going to, get living water from a well. For a month newsmen want Mitt Romney to talk about specifics. He doesn’t; he sticks to principles. There is something here more important than policy. Jesus is challenging her to increase her information and understanding. In today’s lazy politics, thinking is exhausting. And she throws in culture too.

Argument 3: Culture.

Besides, the woman continues; her well is superior because of her ancestor. Like the campaign of 2012 this should not be about genealogy. Black, Hispanic, white, Indian, straight or gay, this is not about one’s superior genes, or the entitlements you anticipate from that connection. The incessant dividing people into groups, positions, ethnics, and labels has been a problem in American politics for generations. But it does not affect the quality of the water in the well, or in fact, its relevance to the issues.

Argument 4: Religion

Jesus won’t let her avoid the issues.

13-14 Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again. But whoever drinks the water I will give him will never be thirsty again. For my gift will become a spring in the man himself, welling up into eternal life.”

Jesus now makes claim for Himself. We are no longer talking politics or religion.

15 The woman said, “Sir, give me this water, so that I may stop being thirsty—and not have to come here to draw water any more!”

Jesus has from her a plea, an un-met need, something He requires from man.

Zechariah 4:10 the eyes of the LORD, which run to and fro through the whole earth

seeking someone wanting God.

16 “Go and call your husband and then come back here,” said Jesus to her.

Oh Oh, we hit pay dirt. The bottom line for Jesus is always sin, not the government, not the parties, not the issues, but sin. All the pre-talk has been about skirting the facts. Jesus knew all along, but let her talk.

17-18 “I haven’t got a husband!” the woman answered. “You are quite right in saying, ‘I haven’t got a husband’,” replied Jesus, “for you have had five husbands and the man you have now is not your husband at all. Yes, you spoke the simple truth when you said that.”

We thought this would nail the deal. But no –she calls him a prophet. Yes, she is saying, He has superior information but no, my religion is about something else. Isn’t it interesting how when we start talking about sin, someone changes the subject and lights into religion. Religion, as defined by the Bible, is mercies to widows and orphans and staying pure. No church, synagogue or mosque is involved.

19-20 “Sir,” said the woman again, “I can see that you are a prophet! Now our ancestors worshipped on this hill-side, but you Jews say that Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship—”

This is classic avoidance. It reminds me of the fellow who called Jesus good, thinking perhaps he was getting in His best graces, and then being rebuked for it. Jesus always went right to the heart. Have you noticed how politicians can change the subject at will, or worse yet, spend 5 minutes talking about something else and then saying, “What is your next question?” Do they need to be trained in this? Of course not. It is natural for sinful man to change the subject when uncomfortable truth is called for.

21-24 “Believe me,” returned Jesus, “the time is coming when worshipping the Father will not be a matter of ‘on this hill-side’ or ‘in Jerusalem’. Nowadays you are worshipping with your eyes shut. We Jews are worshipping with our eyes open, for the salvation of mankind is to come from our race. Yet the time is coming, yes, and has already come, when true worshippers will worship in spirit and in reality. Indeed, the Father looks for men who will worship him like that. God is spirit, and those who worship him can only worship in spirit and in reality.”

Jesus did not fall into the politically correct trap of saying every religion eventually leads to God. It doesn’t. He does not endorse a religion as being essentially ”peaceful” or true. Jews do know more, He claims, but they don’t know everything because I am the Messiah and the Messiah himself is truth.

25 “Of course I know that Messiah is coming,” returned the woman, “you know, the one who is called Christ. When he comes he will make everything plain to us.”

When someone is backed into a wall, they agree, but she is saying to Him, I like what you are saying but I am looking elsewhere. This is good theology. Agree with your adversary when you are in the way with him. {Matthew 5:25} But her hopes that this will put him off fail.

26 “I am Christ speaking to you now,” said Jesus.

Finally, confrontation.

The woman may not be all that taught about who the Messiah is; after all she has been isolated from teaching for possibly a long while, and certainly her morally-flawed lifestyle has not been addressed by any group, just the shunning of her peers. But she sees the potential in this man. That is where we are, or so many of us were – not knowing everything but at least seeing a glimmer of truth.

The disciples return and fall back into old patterns. (It’s a good thing there weren’t there to hear this exchange. I can visualize them piping up with something wrong, as they do often enough.)

27-30 At this point his disciples arrived, and were surprised to find him talking to a woman, but none of them asked, “What do you want?” or “What are you talking to her about?”

Why didn’t the disciples question Jesus? They did often enough on other occasions. Possibly, like the woman they were afraid of what they might hear.

The woman returns with the townspeople. Yes, they don’t know much, but they have believed and are now on the path to truth. For those of you who think Islam is hopeless, this is a lesson. The most religiously-demented can be changed, or make a change. Somewhere there is a woman who will say, “This man is the one.” The messenger is the one with the testimony. All else is theory.

31So the woman left her water-pot behind and went into the town and began to say to the people, “Come out and see the man who told me everything I’ve ever done! Can this be ‘Christ’?” So they left the town and started to come to Jesus.

I don’t expect anyone to accept God’s invitation because of this protracted political campaign but I do want voters to recognize when they are manipulated by pols, polls, and diversionary tactics. God expects more from a free people than that.

One response to “John 4 & the International Presidential Campaign of 2012

  1. Very good. If we could only get this in our heads perhaps we could learn the skill of hearing what is the real issue and speaking to it rather than answering irrelevant questions.

    Like

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