27 Just then, Jesus’ disciples arrived and were shocked that he was talking with a woman. But no one asked, “What do you want?” or “Why are you talking with her?” 28 The woman put down her water jar and went into the city. She said to the people, 29 “Come and see a man who has told me everything I’ve done! Could this man be the Christ?” 30 They left the city and were on their way to see Jesus.
31 In the meantime the disciples spoke to Jesus, saying, “Rabbi, eat.”
32 Jesus said to them, “I have food to eat that you don’t know about.”
33 The disciples asked each other, “Has someone brought him food?”
34 Jesus said to them, “I am fed by doing the will of the one who sent me and by completing his work. 35 Don’t you have a saying, ‘Four more months and then it’s time for harvest’? Look, I tell you: open your eyes and notice that the fields are already ripe for the harvest. 36 Those who harvest are receiving their pay and gathering fruit for eternal life so that those who sow and those who harvest can celebrate together. 37 This is a true saying, that one sows and another harvests. 38 I have sent you to harvest what you didn’t work hard for; others worked hard, and you will share in their hard work.”
39 Many Samaritans in that city believed in Jesus because of the woman’s word when she testified, “He told me everything I’ve ever done.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to Jesus, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there two days.
16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshipped him, but some doubted. 18 Jesus came near and spoke to them, “I’ve received all authority in heaven and on earth. 19 Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to obey everything that I’ve commanded you. Look, I myself will be with you every day until the end of this present age.”
Jesus’ disciples seemed to think no sharing could do any good in the hostile territory of Samaria. Jesus modeled an important spiritual vision for them. “Open your eyes,” he said, “and notice that the fields are already ripe for the harvest” (verse 35). Jesus' actions in Samaria were an early preview of the “Great Commission” he gave his followers. It included (and includes) caring about “all nations,” making continual choices to invest our energy and talents in making the lives of others better.
Lord Jesus, teach me anew this week to recognize and value your image in myself, and in all the people, male and female, happy and hurting, who cross my path. Amen.
* Click here to see a 5-minute clip from the superb 2003 film The Gospel of John (using the text of John from The Good News Bible) which brings the story in John 4 alive.
Have you ever traveled to a country where English isn’t the primary language? It’s one of my favorite things to do. When I arrive, I always make learning a few phrases in the native tongue one of my first priorities.
Getting around an unknown foreign place can be difficult and even daunting, so knowing even just a little bit of the local language makes navigating those countries extremely easier.
But sometimes the most difficult language barriers to overcome are not with non-English speakers but those in our day-to-day lives. It’s interacting with your moody teenager. It’s an encounter with the neighbor whose yard is full of political signs of “the other” party. It’s a discussion with someone who comes from a different cultural background. We may both be speaking English, but there is a barrier that makes it difficult to understand one another. How do we overcome that barrier?
Interestingly, I’ve found that what has been most helpful to me is using the same technique I would if speaking with someone of another language. I don’t start by trying to understand everything about that person or by trying to show them who I am or why I believe what I do. I simply start by asking to know just a little bit about them and by being genuine in my request.
“I don’t know very much about how that social media app works. How do you use it?”
“I see you support this candidate. I’d love to hear how you believe our community or country would be better if they were elected.”
“This is how I view this subject based on my experiences, but do you think there is anything I’m missing?”
When we approach situations with a sense of curiosity and sincere interest, the “language barrier” between us often breaks down. I’ve found these phrases to be helpful:
We can overcome divides by learning the language of others when we seek to understand them. Not only that, we live out our faith by showing others that the Jesus we follow is the savior of all, not just those who look, act, or even speak like we do.
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