Hello everybody and welcome in to episode #291 of the Bible 2021 podcast. We are reading John 4 today and our focus is on  Learning From Jesus How to Have Spiritual Conversations With Those Who Don’t Believe.   We are a daily 10ish minute podcast, where we will dig in to the truth of the Word of God by reading one Bible chapter a day and discussing it. Welcome to new listeners in    Our goal is to encourage DAILY Bible reading, so you can jump in at any time and join with us. We want to invite as many people as possible to join us in daily Bible reading, so help spread the word and share the podcast! Don’t forget about our web-page, Bible2021.com – contact page, show notes, transcript and more– Click here for our Bible 2021 reading plan\

Most of the comments and contacts we get are quite positive. This one wasn’t. Comment from Jenna

“[Born again] This was said to ONE old Jewish guy in the middle of the night. “Jesus” didn’t preach this as the constant message of his ministry. Obviously it wasn’t central to the core of the “gospel.” So why is the constant message of yours? He also told ONE young Jewish guy to go and sell everything, but I don’t see Christians taking that one to heart. You folks refuse to approach your stuff with any type of context.”
Usually I just ignore comments like this, but I read it just to give you an idea of the kinds of thoughts and criticisms that critics have of Christianity. Some of it we have brought on ourselves – others, not so much. In this case, I’ve done 656 daily episodes of this podcast since it began in January of 2020, and episode #290 was the first one that I had done more than merely mention being “born again.” In fact, I chose to do the episode on Jesus’ teaching on being born again simply because we haven’t covered that topic before. Second, I do actually know of some Christians who sold everything and followed Jesus to the ends of the earth, including Moravian missionaries David Nitschmann and Johan Dober, who actually went one step further than the rich young ruler – they sold their possessions and sold THEMSELVES into slavery for the sake of following Jesus’ Great Commission. Finally, she notes that we refuse to approach, “our stuff” with any type of context, and I guess I would say that is pretty much what this entire podcast is about.    Most of the criticism you see online – not just of Christians – is this kind of criticism. It paints with an extremely broad brush, makes sweeping generalizations, and is often demonstrably wrong. No need to fire back on critics, just be aware that much of the criticism you receive will be untrue. Dismiss it, when you’re sure it is inaccurate, and learn from and repent of the wrongs that genuine criticisms reveal. Even when criticism is demonstrably wrong, let us deal with our critics with grace, gentleness and humility.
To our main topic: What can we learn from Jesus about interacting with people who aren’t Christians?  In John 4, Jesus encounters a Samaritan woman and asks her for water, gently leading her into a deep discussion of spiritual matters. In doing so, Jesus breaks several societal taboos and also gives us a wonderful example of interacting with people about spiritual matters. Let’s read the passage, learn from the Master, then discuss it.
I see at least five things that Jesus does in this conversation that we can benefit from.

#1. He breaks societal norms to have an important interaction with a woman who needs Him. The Bible does NOT forbid men from talking to women, nor does it forbid Jews from talking to Samaritans, but the mores and rules of society in Jesus’ day frowned upon both things…and yet, Jesus went against the current, to the shock of His disciples AND the woman at the well, and struck up a conversation with her.

2. Jesus initiated conversation in a non-threatening way – asking for help. He didn’t lead with a question like, “If you died tonight, do you know where you would spend eternity?” I’m not saying that is a bad question, but Jesus didn’t take the abrupt and direct route here – He began with the mundane, the common.

3. Jesus LISTENED to the responses of the woman at the well, and offered up engaging responses to her statements that were meant to draw her in – to pique her interest. He interacted with her very, very well. Sometimes Christians in a witnessing situation simply say their spiel, and if it works, great, if not – on to the next target…but Jesus didn’t do that. He listened and responded based on what the woman said and asked, for instance, “10 Jesus answered, “If you knew the gift of God, and who is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would ask him, and he would give you living water.

4. Jesus addressed a major issue in her life without condemnation. Jesus is God, therefore, He somehow knew this woman’s history. In first century Jewish society, there likely would have been a great deal of shame attached to being married 5 times, and living with a sixth man who wasn’t her husband. But Jesus didn’t guilt trip her – and He didn’t candy-coat it either. He spoke to her with dignity and grace, but did not sweep the truth of her life under the rug.

5. Jesus waited until He had earned her trust before He shared deep truth with her – first about the nature of worship, and then about Himself as Messiah and Savior.
Do we have to follow this exact pattern when speaking to non-Christians about spiritual things? I don’t think so, but Jesus’ approach here offers much we could learn from in talking with people.
One quick question: Why, when the woman at the well asked Jesus for living water, did Jesus ask her a question about her husband. On the surface, this makes no sense at all. And here is pastor Tim Keller on the very important reason why Jesus did this:

In this very interesting discussion, he is saying to this woman who has come to the well to get water, “I have a water that if you drank of it, you’d never thirst again.”She looks at him, and she says, “Sir, give me this water. What is this water that if I drink it, I will never thirst again? Give me this water.” What does Jesus say? “Go get your husband.” Why is he changing the subject? I don’t know, but there we go. She says, “Give me this water that if I drink it, I shall never thirst again.” “Go get your husband.” Then she said, “Well, but I don’t have a husband.” He says, “I know. You’ve had five husbands, and the man you’re living with now is not your husband.” “Wait a minute. What about the water thing here, Jesus? What are you doing? What are you coming on to me like this for? What are you hurting me for?” He was not. It was therapy. Don’t you see? It wasn’t a non sequitur. Here’s what he was saying. He says, “You want the water of life, the water only I can give you, and you’ve been looking for it in men. You have been looking for it in husbands. You’ve been looking for it in love. You’ve been looking for it in sex. You’re never going to find it there. Unless you make me your true love, unless you assuage the deepest thirst of your soul in me, unless you make me your true love, you’re going to go into one or the other dead end. You’re either going to make an idol out of some human being, or you’re going to make an idol out of your own selfish independence.

Timothy J. Keller, The Timothy Keller Sermon Archive (New York City: Redeemer Presbyterian Church, 2013).


Bible Memory passage for the month of October: Dear friends, let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love.  1 John 4:7-8 

The Bible 2021 Podcast Is a ministry of Valley Baptist Church A Church in Salinas, California.

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