27 Feb The King & I – Ben Rajapandian
The gospel of John details Christ as the Son, the Eternal Word. Through the seven ‘I am’ declarations, eight miracles (‘signs’, according to John) and many unique one-to-one encounters with people from all walks of life we learn about the uniqueness of Christ.
Among those who encountered Christ through such conversations were Andrew, Peter, Philip, Nathanael (chapter 1), Nicodemus (chapter 3), the Samaritan woman (chapter 4), an infirmed man (chapter 5), an adulterous woman (chapter 8), a blind man (chapter 9), Lazarus, Mary & Martha (chapter 11), Pilate (chapter 18), Mary (chapter 20) and Peter (chapter 21).
If ever Jesus’ message needs to be condensed into 2 chapters, the events and conversations of John’s gospel 3 & 4 could be a candidate.
It starts with man’s innate desire and hunger for the truth. Nicodemus went to Jesus on his own, having seen something unique and special in this teacher of teachers.
He went at night. To avoid the gaze and questions of society. How could a Rabbi visit an unknown son of a carpenter from a non-descript town? Nicodemus had a conversation starter, but the Christ sees through it – and instead talks about what he, Nicodemus, was really after – the ‘how to’ of eternal life.
And Jesus tells him: ‘God so loved, that He gave…gave His Only Son.’ The process? New birth. NOT rebirth, not countless endless cycles of birth and deaths, but new birth enabled by God’s Spirit. We can’t be certain if Nicodemus picked up on a very important word – ‘WHOSOEVER’. The gospel is not restricted or constrained by birth, bloodline, clan, education, age or gender.
Which leads us to chapter 4 – and the 2nd one-on-one encounter.
This one happens in broad daylight. Not in Jerusalem or in a synagogue – but in a village in lowly Samaria. The master teacher is thirsty. He starts the conversation, unlike with Nicodemus, and asks for water. A Jew, a teacher, a man – speaking to a woman, of doubtful reputation and a Samaritan. Can He? He can. ‘For God so loved, that He gave, gave His one and only Son’.
The conversation moves swiftly – from husbands past and present to water – living water, spring water. And to true worship – not worship at a place (Jerusalem, temple, synagogue) but worship from the heart, with truth, enabled by God’s Spirit. The Nazarene then declares ‘that’s the kind of people God is looking for – true heart worshippers’. Neither status or power or ability matters to Him.
She’s now convinced – He’s the Messiah – the 1st recorded recognition in the Bible. She tells the village folks, and they come – disbelieving, doubtful, sceptical. And see for themselves – the Word who has become flesh. And believed. The 1st ever group of followers of the Messiah. Christians, believers, maybe disciples. Not Jesus’ relatives, Jews or inhabitants of Jerusalem, but villagers from Samaria. Amazing!
Sometimes, ‘uttermost parts of the earth’ exists in the next village or as the next-door neighbour.
It does not matter who starts the conversation. He knew, just knew what they were all they were after – and gave it to them – in simple words and through a conversation – didn’t preach to them, He talked. Dialogued. Engaged. Reasoned. Questioned their beliefs. Listened. Spent time.
Some of them truly listened, took it all in. Oh, how cool it is to be receptive, obedient, listening, at the feet, or at the table or at a well… as long as He, the teacher, the gentle healer, the one who ‘did not draw attention to Himself’ was present.
Different people, different settings. One constant – The Christ.