A Divine Necessity
The story of the Samaritan woman at the well [John 4] keeps coming up in my life.
When the same passage or concept or theme keeps coming up in different, "unrelated" areas of my life, I tend to see that as a sign to pay attention & try to ask the Lord what He's trying to teach me through it. This seemed to be one of those times, and the things I've discovered from it have quickly become another reason to sing His grace.
The passage first came up a few weeks ago as I was doing a She Reads Truth study.
I then find out the following day that one of my staff teammates was going to be talking about the story of the woman at the well for the first Cru meeting of the semester. What a cool coincidence right?
The end of that same week, we had a student leaders' meeting at a different campus. What did we end up doing as a devotional for them? The story of the woman at the well.
As the semester continued to come into full swing and I started meeting with the female student leaders whom I'll be discipling, I wanted to put an emphasis on evangelism. After all, if our ministry is "a caring community passionate about connecting others to Jesus Christ," what is one of the biggest ways we do that? Evangelism. So I started with a discipleship lesson that talked all about what evangelism means, how we go about doing it, and what our drive & motivation should be as we share our faith.
The example from Scripture that the lesson used?
Yep, you guessed it. The story of the woman at the well.
Now let's back up a little.
While I was initially going through the SRT study and reading John 4, I checked out some of the notes in my ESV Study Bible and wound up on a little bit of a rabbit trail, which led me to a really cool discovery, and it involves a verse that I certainly would have glazed right over before.
"And He had to pass through Samaria." - John 4:4
So profound right?
Bear with me.
I've heard other teachers or commentators point out this verse before and talk about how, realistically, Jesus didn't have to pass through Samaria. All the other Jews avoided that place like the plague, and He definitely could have gone around it as He made His way from Judea to Galilee. So why didn't He? He went through Samaria specifically to talk to this Samaritan woman, whom He clearly knew would be there. That in itself is really cool!
But this was the first time it was taken a step further for me.
And here's where my love of words [meanings of words, synonyms for words, etc] shows.
The word is dei. Greek: δεῖ
This is the Greek word that is used for "had to" in that verse. It's meaning? "It is necessary."
Well yeah, duh. Had to, necessary - it makes sense.
But the study notes further explained that it's more than that. This specific word is always used in a certain context. It always indicates a divine necessity or requirement. Check out the other places in John where this same word is used:
3:7 - You must be born again. // The Son of Man must be lifted up.
3:30 - He must increase, I must decrease.
9:4 - We must do the works of God.
10:16 - Jesus has other sheep that He must bring back to Himself.
12:34 - Another reference that the Son of Man must be lifted up. It was divinely necessary for Christ to die.
20:9 - Jesus must rise from the dead. It was divinely necessary in order for the process of redemption to be accomplished.
Each of these has to do with something about our salvation, sanctification, or Jesus' death and resurrection.
All of these truths are divinely necessary for us to believe and walk in as believers in Christ. How awesome is it that the same word that holds such weight for us in our spiritual growth is the same word that is used to describe how Jesus "had to" pass through Samaria and meet this woman?!
Oh what a loss it is for us to glance over this simple verse!
Yes, Jesus knew that this woman would be at the well. He knew all about her and her past. He knew about how she had to come to the well at that specific time - when no one else would be there - probably because she would be ridiculed otherwise. He knew the need she unknowingly had for Him and the Living Water only He could offer. He knew that she would be the one to then go back to her town and tell everyone about what just happened to her and Who she just spoke to.
But even more than that, it was divinely necessary for Him to do. As in there was no other choice. He specifically went for her. He cared for her, truly saw her, and wasted no time in bringing up spiritual things into their conversation, which ultimately led to her life being changed.
And He does the same for us. He stopped at nothing to come and die. He came to fulfill the promises and prophecies of the Old Testament, but also because of His deep love for us. The joy of completing the Father's Will and reconciling us back to Himself was set before Him, so he endured the cross. [Hebrews 12:2]
This great truth and the profound use of dei has really stuck with me personally and in light of the ministry I do as a job.
If we're supposed to become more and more like Jesus as we walk daily with Him, we must also have a divine necessity to tell others this great news that is better than any other news we've ever heard. We must be willing to drop everything (girlfriend even left her water jug at the well) to go and tell how we've been personally changed by Christ and how He has met our deepest need.
I must depend on Jesus in order to see others as He does. I'm not supposed to go shove my beliefs down others' throats, but I am supposed to meet them where they're at and be willing to listen to their stories and communicate the fact that Jesus is the only One who can not only save their souls from eternal separation from God, but He can also quench their deepest desires to be known and loved.
Having something driving my life that is divinely necessary means that I will do it despite how I may feel on a particular day. It means that I won't care about potential awkwardness or potential rejection. It means that this is something so crucial and significant that I can't not tell others.
This allows me to be humbled and thankful that God saw it to be divinely necessary to come after me. He stopped at nothing and continues to pursue and fill me daily. He didn't wait until I was good and ready, because I never would have been [Ephesians 2:5]. Jesus faced more rejection than I ever have or ever will, even facing the ultimate rejection of His Father while on the cross. Jesus didn't wait until He was fully accepted by everyone, so as to not face rejection or awkwardness. [Could you even imagine?]
Praise Him for this great truth.
And yet again I sing His grace.