Teaching Like Jesus

That title probably feels like something of a pivot. After all, the vast majority of what this blog about is science and origins. However, in my Bible reading the other night, I picked up on something that I hadn’t seen before and I think it’s applicable to our origins discussions so I decided to take time and share this in the hope it is a blessing to anyone who reads it.

In John 4, the Bible gives us the account of the woman at the well. To most Christians, the account is well known.  Jesus and His disciples are passing through Samaria. They get to the town of Sychar and Jesus sits down on the edge of the well, and sends His disciples to go get food. While they are gone, a woman comes out of the city to draw water. This is unusual because usually, drawing water from the well was one of the earliest tasks of the day. The fact that this woman came later seems to hint she is a social outcast, a fact confirmed later when we learn she’s been married five times and is currently living with someone else.  Jesus engages with her and asks her to give Him some water. This is a standard request at the time, and very few people would refuse to give even their worst enemy some water if he asked. Yet the woman is shocked Jesus asked. This is because the Jews HATED the Samaritans, would not speak with them if they could avoid it, and certainly would never ask for a favor from a Samaritan. Jesus and the woman both knew this, and Jesus used it to get a conversation started.

I want to key in on a couple of verses from this account where the woman and Jesus have a very interesting interaction.  By the time we reach verse 19, Jesus has revealed He knows how the woman is living. The woman has already declared an interest in spiritual things, but now she starts to get a bit sidetracked. ” The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet. Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.” verses 19-20 illustrate the woman is missing the point. She is pushing one of the dividing points between the Jews and the Samaritans: where to worship. The Jews had it right, the Old Testament commanded that they worship in the Tabernacle and later Temple, but that was beside the point.  Jesus was trying to get this woman to recognize she needed the Messiah. Where she would worship God thereafter was irrelevant at that point.

Notice how Jesus responds. He doesn’t dismiss the question. Instead, He answers it, then transitions into talking about what was of utmost importance. “Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” Verses 21-24 make it clear Jesus answers what she wants to know, ie that the location will not matter, but what really matters is how you worship. It’s at this point she gets it and speaks of the Messiah.

Jesus’ response to this woman, who could be considered a religious skeptic, is very illuminating. She wasn’t attempting to mock the Scriptures. She had some religious background, but really had no clue what worshiping God meant. This is where most of the people in our churches are, sadly. They have lots of questions, usually about origins or related topics,  but often their questions are either dismissed as irrelevant, or they are looked down on for asking them. That needs to change. We should encourage people within the church with questions to ask…and then be ready to answer them when they are asked.  However, we can’t stop there because Jesus didn’t either.  Instead, take the question as an opportunity to steer the conversation back towards the Savior. Because, in the end, winning people to a young earth creationist position is irrelevant if they are not also won to Christ. Many Muslims believe in a form of creationism, but are lost and bound for hell for all eternity. So be prepared, not just to answer questions, but to take the answer and use it to point to the Savior.

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