John the Baptist had been very plain to his followers that he was not the Messiah, but rather sent ahead to proclaim His coming. But his followers could only see Jesus as competition. As the Ministry of Jesus was just starting up…the Ministry of John the Baptist’s was winding down…and John was content with this, but not his followers. For jealousy had reared its ugly head as they watched their crowds dwindle, and the crowds around Jesus grow larger. I’ll be the first to admit there’s been times when I’ve seen the awesome move of God in a person and a twinge of jealousy will resonate deep inside. “Why can’t that be me, Lord?” I whine pathetically . John the Baptist knew the plan and purpose of his life so he didn’t have to view Jesus as a rival, but rather rejoiced with Him in God’s work being accomplished. The Lord’s work shouldn’t be a contest, where all of us are jockeying for attention and resentful when someone else is used by Him. Rather than being jealous, we should be rejoicing for each other.
How’s your prayer life? For many of us, it’s either a repetitive little petition we rattle off without even thinking about what we’re saying…or we simply forget to pray at all. This scripture says we must worship in spirit and in truth…we must come before the Lord with informed minds and kindled hearts…but how? By allowing the Holy Spirit to guide and direct our prayer time, He will bring people to mind that we may intercede on their behalf. When the Holy Spirit is leading our prayers, our minds have good knowledge of what to pray for, as our hearts are ignited by the love of Christ.
It’s your first day of work at a new job, and how do you spend most of it? Reading and signing paperwork. There are contracts, job descriptions, and policies and procedures to review and sign. But as a Believer, you also have a job description for the work the Lord wants you to be doing here on earth. This scripture shows us we are responsible to so well represent the Lord, that if someone looks at us, they will only see the love of Jesus shining forth. Our relationship with God should be such, that our faith is never doubted…our love for Him never questioned…our worship of Him, uncompromising and pure. Yes, our obligation to the Lord is great…but not in any comparison to the reward.
The long-held Jewish Law was being turned upside down by Jesus in this scripture. He was in a way giving the crowd an Anatomy and Physiology lesson in explaining that nothing they could ingest would ever defile their hearts…their inner self. Rather, Jesus explained to them that it was what came out of a man…in word and deed…that degraded and profaned him.
I can still remember one of my Nursing Supervisors in college. She would stand outside the patient’s room with you asking a million questions about the procedure you were about to carry out. Did you have everything you needed and were you well versed in what you were about to do. But right before you both walked into the room she’d say, “I will only stop you if you are potentially going to hurt the patient.” It was always said in a quiet, soft voice, but boy did it pack a wallop! Luckily, she never said a word during any of my procedures, and I gained a wealth of knowledge from that uncompromising woman. The Lord is the same way, His discipline is to educate us, not hurt us. It’s only when we reject and turn away from His correction that we suffer.
Jews didn’t associate with Samaritans, and any self-respecting Jewish man surely wouldn’t make a point of traveling through Samaria…but Jesus did. He didn’t have to plan the trip that way…most would have gone around Samaria…but Jesus didn’t. You see, Jesus had a divine appointment arranged for a woman at Jacob’s well…a meeting that would not only change her, but many of her fellow towns-people. The Lord is ever reaching His saving hand into places we’d probably never go…into prisons, crack houses, seedy motels, or dark alleyways…places where the forgotten, shunned, and hopeless live. But no soul is beyond His reach…no life is beyond His grace and mercy.
Deuteronomy 10:17 states, “God doesn’t show partiality and He accepts no bribes.” So as a Follower of Jesus, we should not either. When we allow bias to color our judgment…we are opening ourselves up to bigotry… prejudging entire groups of people based on one incident…or one person. God never favors one person over another…for He is always impartial and fair…and we should be also.