The first evangelists

Posted Jun 29, 2018

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Daily Scripture

John 4:25-30

25 The woman said, “I know that the Messiah is coming, the one who is called the Christ. When he comes, he will teach everything to us.”

26 Jesus said to her, “I Am—the one who speaks with you” [or “It is I, the one who speaks with you.”] 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.

John 20:17-18

17 Jesus said to her, “Don’t hold on to me, for I haven’t yet gone up to my Father. Go to my brothers and sisters and tell them, ‘I’m going up to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’”

18 Mary Magdalene left and announced to the disciples, “I’ve seen the Lord.” Then she told them what he said to her.

Reflection Questions

The Samaritan woman Jesus met at the well became his first preacher. This story found its echo 16 chapters later when Mary Magdalene became the first witness to the risen Messiah, and in turn became the first preacher of this new miracle. John called his past and present audience to listen to women’s voices. Jesus did not ignore or devalue any voices. He recognized women (and others who were routinely silenced) as being powerful conduits for His miraculous message.

  • In Isaiah 42:14, the prophet used an image of God as a woman in labor. God promised to gasp, pant, and deliver his children from exile. That image, and Jesus' later making the woman at the well and Mary Magdalene the first ministers, showed that God identified with women and invited women to identify with God’s amazing story. What images of God particularly compel you? Do you most often think of God as a shepherd or a king? How would it deepen and enrich your faith if you focused on Isaiah’s image of God as a woman in labor?
  • Scholar and priest Lauren Winner invites readers of Isaiah 42 to picture God as a pregnant woman in prison, because forty-thousand women experience childbirth while imprisoned each year in America. Winner reminds readers that God regularly identifies with people who are suffering and marginalized and asks: “What can I do to meet this God? How can I serve this God? How can I befriend this God?”* How can you intentionally listen to the voices you may usually ignore, but who God readily identifies with?

Prayer

Lord God, I know that you have chosen to carry out your great story through me and others. Call me to recognize the holiness in the people around me. Bless the women in my life who gather water, share your good news, and labor to create new life. Amen.


* Winner, Lauren, Wearing God: Clothing, Laughter, Fire, and Other Overlooked Ways of Meeting God. New York: HarperOne, 2015, p. 158.

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Darren Lippe

Darren Lippe

Darren Lippe helps facilitate Journey 101 “Loving God” classes, guides a 7th-grade Sunday school class, is a member of a small group and a men’s group, and serves on the curriculum team.

When I graduated from college, my first job was in Birmingham, Alabama. After 3 weeks, I went to a local barbershop. When the roomful of old codgers discovered I was from Kansas, they peppered me with questions like anthropologists learning of a strange new culture. (We are a land of brave freedom fighters, Eisenhower, & aeronautical innovation, not just the Yellow Brick Road. Sigh.) Then, as my barber put warm shaving cream on my neck & proceeded to sharpen his straightedge razor on the strap hanging from the chair, I was asked, “Who did I like? Alabama or Auburn?” Even without my glasses, as I looked around the room for the 1st time, I could see all of the magazines were vintage sports magazines with Alabama on the cover & the wood paneling was plastered with Alabama notables like Joe Namath & Bear Bryant. I replied that even though I’d been here just a few weeks, I was partial to Alabama. Everyone smiled & we had a rousing conversation about the upcoming season.

The Alabama/Auburn rivalry runs 365 days a year & there is no shortage of jokes at each other’s expense:

  • Did you hear they finally found a sign of intelligence on the Alabama campus?  It read: Auburn 157 Miles
  • Hey Auburn fans, don’t call your license plate “personalized” just because your Dad made it.
  • Auburn Fan: Did you hear the new joke about the 'Bama grad?  (Three large men appear.)  We are 'Bama grads.  Still want to tell your joke?  No way.  I don't have time to explain it 3 times.
  • An Alabama & Auburn fan face the firing squad. Each is given one last request.  The Alabama fan tearfully asks to hear the ‘Bama fight song one last time. The Auburn fan asks to be shot first.

Sadly, today it seems like our rivalries are no longer good-natured, but are quickly getting out of hand. We are encouraged to openly dislike, despise, & detest anyone who disagrees with our political, theological, or sociological views. Ala the Godfather, we “go to the mattresses” over every single disagreement or debate.

If only there was someone who could model for us a way to deal with those with whom we disagree. This is when every Sunday School student eagerly shouts out, “Jesus!” This is correct, but for today’s purposes we’ll focus on The Woman At The Well. (Since writing Woman at the Well is rather clunky, let’s call her Brooke. Since when did clunky writing bother you? – Editor.)

Brooke arrives at the well & sees a traveler resting there. The traveler is alone & probably looks a bit dusty & disheveled. By all rights, she should promptly return home.

Jesus starts a conversation. Brooke should not listen to a man, let alone a stranger. She would be applauded for coldly ignoring Him.

Brooke is a Samaritan. Her peers would cheer her on for making some disdainful comment directed at this pathetic looking Jewish Rabbi sitting before her.

This Jewish Rabbi is asking for her cup. She should mock Him for his lack of preparedness & mentally add it to her handy list of “Why Samaritans are superior to Jews.”

After ignoring her cultural education, she listens to this weary Traveler. Only then does she discover that this Man is the long-awaited/long-dreamed of Messiah. 

She leaves her jar of water & sprints to tell others in her community the Good News. Why would she go tell the very people who had been ostracizing her & harshly judging her for years? Because her heart, once filled with regret & sorrow, was now full of forgiveness & love. She had met the Messiah & He was glorious!

Again & again, Brooke broke with social convention, led with her heart, & encountered the love of Christ. Could we do the same? Could we really break with our favored peer group & actually dare to reach across the aisle & offer civility to an opponent or, gasp, perhaps even compassion? If we hesitate in our answer, we should marvel ever the more at Brooke’s amazing capacity to love.

Perhaps today is the day we resolve to listen to ideas & to communicate views that are more insightful rather than inciteful.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, an Auburn grad is ringing the doorbell. Sigh. He won’t stop until I pay him for the pizza.

Note: The above jokes have been thoroughly vetted with my Alabama & Auburn friends & no one's self-esteem was hurt in the process. - DL

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