The Gospel message is clear: no one enters the Kingdom of God except by Jesus Christ. This rock of offense has caused many to stumble—Jew and Gentile alike—because it sounds “exclusive.” Jesus, Himself, said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6).
Why is Jesus the only way? As the Son of God, He lived a life without sin, in total obedience to the Father. As the Son of Man, He faced the same temptations and emotions we do, yet prevailed. But unlike human leaders who tend to lord their position over the rest of us, this Servant-Leader invited us to share in His position by virtue of being joined to Him.
We always have a choice between light and life versus darkness and death. “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil” (John 3:18-19).
This unique union with Christ forms our true identity. “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Gal. 3:27). All other distinctions pale in comparison: Jew or Gentile, male or female, boss or employee, young or old. We are now first and foremost citizens of Heaven (Phil. 3:20) and ambassadors for Christ (2 Cor. 5:20). All because we are all in Christ Jesus; He is the basis of our new life in the Kingdom of the Son of the Father’s love (Col. 1:13).
The Chronos Lesson: This is why John 4:3-4 says that Jesus “left Judea and departed again to Galilee. But He needed to go through Samaria.” He needed to go? What was so urgent? Plus, good Jews didn’t take this more direct route from Galilee in the north to Jerusalem in the south. There was bad blood between the Jews and the Samaritans.
The Jews looked down on the Samaritans because they had intermingled in marriage during the captivity. The Samaritans continued to worship as the Jews did but considered only the first five books of the Old Testament as authoritative. To make matters worse, they had built their own temple on Mount Gerizim because they believed it was the site of the altar where Abraham prepared to offer Isaac as a sacrifice. That temple had already been destroyed by Jesus’ time.
This “needful” trip had to shock Jesus’ disciples. Shocker #1. Yet they journeyed with Him. When they came to Jacob’s well, Jesus rested and the disciples went into town to get some food. It was noon and the sun was high up in the sky, which meant the women wouldn’t be coming to the well to get water. With one exception, however.
You probably know the story of the woman at the well. Jesus asks the woman to give Him some water. Shocker #2. Thus began a stunning conversation that would change the course of history. “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water” (John 4:10). The Samaritans would hear the Gospel and believe.
Jesus stayed in the “heathen” land for two days. He needed to go there because it signaled a new time when a new covenant would be cut to bring salvation to any and all. It foreshadowed the two-Day timeout for Israel as the Gospel was extended to the Gentiles across the known world.
Division, hatred, and bloodshed can only be overcome by the shed blood of the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ. The world wants us to react with vengeance, which seems good at the time. But as Christians we are called not to react but to respond in the light of God’s grace and love. The world doesn’t need more darkness. It needs the Light of the World. God has appointed a time for His vengeance against evil. It is the Day of Christ.
By the way, every religion is exclusive in the sense that each has its own beliefs that must be followed. And since those beliefs differ from other religions, they cannot lead to the same place. Nor can they lead to perfection because only God the Creator can recreate a new heart and a new spirit in us. Perhaps this is one reason why the Antichrist will oppose all forms of religion—except worshiping his image, that is!