This post is the first of a series I had written on another blog of mine a couple of years ago. I will periodically be posting those writings here on this blog.
I had the opportunity to preach at the Deer Run Church of Christ on the last Sunday morning of 2008. My message was entitled, “The Art of Re-Gifting” and looked at the example of Jesus found in John 4:4-42. In most of my preaching I like to wrap my sermon points around a word that gives people a “handle” to carry the sermon home and remember what God is calling them to do. In this sermon, I looked at four points from the account of Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well. These points hung on the word GIFT. It was all about the gift of Jesus that causes Paul to exclaim, “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” Jesus gives us an example of how we can take the gift He has given us and “re-gift” it to others. This article will look at the first point: re-gifting Jesus style requires grace!
John’s telling of this encounter between Jesus and the Samaritan woman opens with a comment on the nature of Jesus that is often overlooked and not considered — Jesus was tired! I can picture Jesus finally arriving here at Jacob’s well, relieved that He can finally be left alone to get some rest. John lets us know that the disciples had gone into town to buy food and Jesus chose to be alone, or was left alone, to unwind from the journey He had taken. I can picture it because I have been there — tired from travel, tired from the pressures of the day, tired of people, just wanting to be left alone to rest, relax, and think. Are you there with me yet? Are you comfortable? Are you in that “relaxing zone”? If so, then perhaps you can imagine the arrival of a stranger to your place of isolation and rest.
What is your reaction? What is my reaction? Perhaps, “Go away!”; or “Leave me alone!”; or, “Can’t you see I’m tired?”; or perhaps our initial response would be the same as Jesus, “Will you give me a drink?” In His tiredness, Jesus initiates a conversation. Maybe this was simply a reaction to meet His own need for a drink. We would be okay with that. Simply fulfilling a need doesn’t have to interrupt the rest we so desperately want — it may even improve it! But Jesus doesn’t leave it at meeting His needs. As a matter of fact, it soon becomes quite apparent that this was never really about the needs of Jesus. Instead, Jesus extends grace by stepping out of His tiredness to interact with an individual that needed to know Him.
But the grace of re-gifting goes even deeper. This wasn’t just anyone that Jesus was interrupting His rest for. This was a Samaritan and a woman. This offering of grace even catches the woman by surprise that this Jewish man would be talking to her. The idea of a Jewish man to be talking to a woman in public was unthinkable. And to talk to a Samaritan, asking her to help you, was simply unheard of. Yet here is Jesus, about to embark on a conversation designed to reveal to this woman the priceless gift that stands before her.
I know, you are thinking, “So what? Doesn’t apply to me! I don’t mind talking to women and I have nothing against Samaritans.” But it does apply, doesn’t it? You and I know people that we do our best to avoid. People of different cultures, nationalities, lifestyles, or whatever it may be — we choose not to associate with them. We excuse it. We rationalize it. We even attempt to justify it. But in the end, we must come face to face with the grace shown by Jesus and ask ourselves, “How are we doing at extending grace — undeserved favor — to all those we encounter?” You see, that is the first step in re-gifting Jesus style. We must recognize that the gift we have received from God is so undeserved that we are willing to extend grace to all people we encounter.
I pray that the encounters that you and I have with people will be filled with grace. May we learn from Jesus how to re-gift what God has given us.
Up next: The Art Of Re-GIFTing — Part 2: Inventory