[Jesus said,] “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.” (John 4:14)
As I read the Gospel accounts, Jesus constantly surprises me. For example, in the encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well recorded in John 4, I think that I would have one of two reactions. Most likely, I would have felt uncomfortable with her sin, condemned her in my heart and distanced myself from her.
But surprisingly Jesus does not do that. Love does not condemn people.
But I might have overlooked or even blessed her sin to try to build a relationship with her. But surprisingly Jesus does not do that either. Love does not condone sin.
What Jesus does do is intentionally put himself in a situation where he will encounter the woman so he can connect with her in her area of deepest pain and shame: her broken heart and her many failed relationships. Something amazing happens when Jesus meets people in their areas of deepest pain: They begin to heal.
We recognize that people need healing, but we feel very inadequate for the task. We are afraid of entering into a situation where we think we will fail. So we condemn to create distance or we condone to avoid confrontation.
There is a reason why we feel inadequate in the face of someone else’ pain. We actually are inadequate! But that does not prevent us from becoming agents for healing in this broken and hurting world. For our role is not to heal, but to connect people with the Great Healer. And when people drink the water that Jesus gives to them, that water becomes in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life. Later on (John 7:39), Jesus tells us that this living water is the Holy Spirit. So we connect people to Jesus and he gives them Holy Spirit who enlivens, heals and renews their spirit.
It surprises me that Jesus is able to be just and pure and still love and accept people just as they are, without condemning them or condoning their sin. It surprises me that this is the kind of love that Jesus has for all people.
And this leads to an even greater surprise: Jesus love and accepts me. He knows all about my sin, guilt and shame and he still loves me. How can a pure, good and gracious God ever love me? Jesus knows all about my sin, guilt and shame and not only loves me in spite of those things, he took them all away from me on the cross. As far as he is concerned, they no longer exist. That is so shocking that I find it hard to believe that it is true! But it is true. And it is not only true for me, it is also true for you and for every other person on this earth. You and I have never, ever laid our eyes upon another human being whose sin, guilt and shame has not already been dealt with in full by Jesus.
Not everyone believes that this is true, but it is. And we don’t have to convince other people that Jesus’ surprising love is true. We simply tell them. It is true whether they believe it or not. But there is something in this Good News message that enables people to believe it and receive it. So we can tell them that they do not have to worry about their death or their sin, guilt or shame. Jesus has already taken care of it all for them!
What a surprising Saviour we have! May we constantly be surprised by his love for us! And when we live in that state of constant surprise, I think that others might be surprised by how we love them.
In Christ’s love,