For the past couple months we’ve been involved in a 40 day commitment to scripture reading and prayer. It has been truly amazing. Rachel and I have talked about our reading together almost daily – and I have loved that. Chris, Heidi, Rachel and I have sent countless emails back and forth – this process of being transformed by scripture together has had the added impact of deepening our friendship.
…But here’s the interesting thing about these two stories. They are incredibly accessible. Nicodemus was a scholar and minister – but that isn’t what made him able to believe…in fact, he seemed much more confused than the Samaritan woman had been! The metaphors are incredibly common – birth and water.
The first story is about a man; the second about a woman. There is no preferred gender in the Christian life.
The first story takes place in the city, the second on the outskirts of a small town. Geography has no bearing on perception or attitude.
Nicodemus is a respectable member of a strictly orthodox sect of the Pharisees; the woman is a disreputable member of the despised Samaritans. Racial background, religious identity, and moral track record are neither here nor there in matters of spirituality.
The man is named; the woman unnamed. Reputation and standing in the community are not important.
Nicodemus opens their conversation with a spiritual comment; the woman allows Jesus to kick things off with a simple question of drawing water. It doesn’t seem to matter who gets things started, Jesus or us, or whether the subject matter is earthly or heavenly.
In both stories there is risk – Nicodemus risks his reputation meeting Jesus, Jesus risks his by speaking to this female Samaritan. So…
A man and a woman
City and country
An insider and an outsider
A professional and a layperson
A respectable man and a disreputable woman
An orthodox and a heretic
One who takes the initiative; one who lets it be taken
On named, the other anonymous
Human reputation at risk; divine reputation at risk
In both stories Jesus is the central character. Everything that happens to bring life has Jesus working in the center of it – Jesus is more active than any one of us; it is Jesus who provides the energy. And this is what life in the Kingdom is about. It is about God. It is about Jesus. It is not about elitism. It is not about looking right, smelling right or dressing right. It is Jesus himself that is at work to introduce everyone to this kingdom.