Christmas Message: The glory of God does not walk around uncomfortable situations.

December 24, 2020

Christmas Message: The glory of God does not walk around uncomfortable situations.

By Pastor Christian Cook. 

John 1:14 1 In the beginning was the Word and The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.  

The character of our Savior is marked by grace and truth. When Jesus launched his ministry, one of the first things he did was visit the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s Well.

John 4: 1 “Now Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that he was gaining and baptizing more disciples than John (although in fact it was not Jesus who baptized, but his disciples.) So he left Judea and went back once more to Galilee. Now, he had to go through Samaria. So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon”.

A particularly notable slice of this story for 2020, is that the Pharisees heard something. They didn’t ask Jesus about it. What is worse is they were getting it wrong.  Verse 2 says: “although in fact it was not Jesus who baptized, but his disciples”.  It’s as if a governing body was using faulty information to make bad decisions. Jesus had every right to march up to the steps of that capital and demand some fact checking!  But look what he did instead. 

He chose to let that go and take his church on a mission of peace and reconciliation. Jesus wasted a perfectly good opportunity to be RIGHT, to bring peace. This juxtaposition was no accident, but a strategic detail in the launch of Jesus’ ministry on Earth.

The Apostle Paul affirmed that rightness was not the most important thing for the Body of Christ. In 1 Corithnians 13:13 Paul says: “And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”  And in Galatians 22 Paul says: “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness”. Given multiple opportunities to define our core values in the Kingdom of God, Paul and Jesus avoid rightness altogether.

Back to our story about Jesus and the Samaritan woman. 

John 4:4: “Now he had to go through Samaria. So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon”. In that age, no self-respecting Jewish person would walk through Samaria.  This had to do with several things. There had been a sort of long-standing civil war between Samaria and Judah. Then Samaria was captured and assimilated by the Assyrians who brought in all sorts of pagan gods and strange influences. Judeans saw Samaria as a horrible slum, full of bad people and a ruined culture.  It was a perfect picture of what we call an “Us versus Them culture.”

And yet The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.  

The Glory of God does not walk around uncomfortable situations. The Glory of God makes his dwelling among us. He is full of Grace and Truth.  Grace distributes peace to the broken hearted.  Truth has no need to hide.  Jesus knew that we would need this message.  The greatest reconciliation begins when we reach out to the most estranged places.  He says that we need to look beyond our “us” and spread some Christmas cheer to “them”.

You may know the biblical story of the woman at the well.  Jesus engaged with a nameless woman from Samaria, at Jacob’s well.  She is a “don’t BS me” type, critical thinker

and she is confused because typically Jesus would never speak to her.  In fact, it was forbidden culturally.  He was a man; he was a Jewish man, a male Jewish rabbi.  She expected nothing but distance and side-eyed judgement.  Of course, Jesus reached out and started a conversation instead. First, they had a conversation about the well, and then Jesus gave her a little miracle.  When she realized he was a prophet, she had some questions. She said something like, “We used to go to church but Y’all kept telling us we were doing it wrong”. 

Jesus’s response was critical. He began by breaking down all the walls.

John 4:23 says: A time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth”. Again, when Jesus defined the Kingdom of God culture, he keeps claims of rightness out of reach. He said where they worship doesn’t matter. How they worship doesn’t matter. Only that they Worship God in the Spirit, and in truth.   

Grace. Truth. Faith. Hope. Love. Joy. Peace. Patience. Kindness. Goodness. Faithfulness.  These are the reasons for the Season.  These are the attributes of the Glory of God. These are those that His Spirit intends to show the world, in us.

After this unexpected response from Jesus, the woman is so moved that she runs off to tell her entire village about Jesus.

There is an old saying; the proof is in the pudding, and we have the pudding right here at the end of the chapter.  Jesus does not rely on the very personal miracle he performed for the woman. His Glory became intimately real to her, but He didn’t stop there. In verse 40 it says, “so when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. And because of his words many more became believers.42 They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.”  Jesus and his disciples hung out with the Samaritans.  They spent time together. And her whole tribe came to know its savior because he dwelt among them. 

Let us remember that Jesus is truly the reason for the season. As the angels announced, this season is about our Emmanuel, God with us. In his likeness, our glory is to be “among them”. To display his fruit, to shine his light into the darkness, and to engage those we see as “them” with intimate relationship. Did you know that if you hand someone a plate of cookies while Christmas music is playing, they are legally bound to take them from you?  It’s true, look it up. It’s in the thing… 

There are so many scared, lonely, vulnerable people in the world at this moment.  It is almost as if the fields are ripe and Jesus just needs harvesters.  Of course, the harvesters will be armed with plates of cookies and prayers.  “We” are all the field.  There is no “Them”.

Jesus is truly the reason the season. 

Here is my prayer for us:

Lord, Thank you for this day and this moment.  You are the great I AM.  Your son Jesus became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son of God, who came from you. Help us to be like him; full of your grace and bound in your truth.  Rejoicing.

Merry Christmas to everyone.

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