“Most people are bothered by those passages of Scripture they do not understand, but the passages that bother me are those I do understand.” — Mark Twain
Surprised by Jesus
“Just then his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman.” – John 4:27
John 4 is the familiar story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well. Jesus was on a mission, for verse four says, “Now he had to go through Samaria.” What intrigues me about this passage is the way the disciples seemed bothered by the fact Jesus was talking to a Samaritan woman. This woman was the wrong sex and living in the wrong country for them to feel comfortable. In other words, she definitely was not one of them! Apparently, the disciples still did not understand the mission and the purpose of Jesus, so His actions surprised them.
This got me thinking: I wonder how often Jesus might surprise me. I don’t think I’d be surprised if Jesus had a face-to-face conversation with Billy Graham, or maybe Mother Teresa or even the head of my denomination. Those are all people who are acceptable in my sight. However, would I be surprised if I walked into a room and saw Jesus conversing with someone I’m not sure about? You’ll have to use your imagination for this, but what if I came across Jesus talking to President Obama. (I can hear it now: “Jesus had to go through Washington, D.C.”) Would I be surprised? What if Jesus was having a conversation with the Pope, or Angelina Jolie, or Charles Manson? How about Fidel Castro, Indira Gahandi or President George W. Bush? Would Jesus surprise me with His actions? Would He surprise you?
More interestingly, I wonder how many people would be surprised if they found out Jesus took the time to go out of His way to have a quiet, comfortable talk with me. Can you hear the whispers? “Jesus was talking with that rascal Jim. I know about him. I know some of the bonehead things he’s done and I’ve read some of the silly things he’s written. Why would Jesus be talking to Jim? He’s not one of us.”
I figure that if I’m like the disciples, surprised by who Jesus chooses to talk to, it’s a sure indication that I still don’t know His mission or His purpose. Yes, I’ve read that God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, but its so easy to think Jesus really died for those people who are most like me; people I get along with, approve, admire, agree with and respect. But when Jesus steps outside the acceptable boundary lines and crosses over into “enemy” territory, then I begin to wonder what He’s up to. Why? Because if Jesus will go through Samaria (or Washington D.C.), then He just might call me to go there too, and then I’d have to face my own prejudices and that’s a bit too much confrontation for a Monday morning.
I’d like to say Jesus doesn’t surprise me anymore, but nobody would believe it. I’m still learning about the mission and purpose of Jesus. I’m still challenged when He directs me to talk with certain people, go to specific places, listen to particular teachers, and face my own, personally chosen enemies. On a lighter note, I think since Heaven is for an eternity and God is infinite, I can anticipate an eternity with God that is full of surprise and wonder. Therefore, it should not be surprising (pun intended) if His surprises start today.