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Posts Tagged ‘the Messiah’

Jo 23Recently, I overheard the following conversation:

‘Would you like some coffee?’

‘I usually don’t drink coffee. I’ve never liked it much, but I’m trying to get used to it.’

‘Um … why would you want to make yourself like coffee?’

‘Well … well, I want to be accepted!’

I tried to hide my smile because I would expect this type of behaviour amongst children, not grown adults, which these two definitely were! Our young grandson, for example, refuses to wear a particular beanie in his school colours anywhere—especially to school! And our youngest granddaughter, at four years of age, has very definite tastes in clothes and other attire—which usually means pink things or things that have pink in them. Recently too, she cried, covered her ears and ran and hid, after she managed to lose one of her pink earrings. When I tried to comfort her, she sobbed, ‘I can’t let anyone see me with only one earring in!’

Being accepted matters when you are four or six—and it matters even more for our two older granddaughters who are fifteen and twelve. Yet it doesn’t stop there, does it? At times, and in certain situations in particular, we all desire to be accepted by those around us. None of us wants to feel rejected, pushed to the fringes, not interesting enough or attractive enough or good enough to fit the bill. So we may choose to act differently or say what we think those around us want to hear—and close our mouths on the words we truly want to speak out but are afraid to, for fear of rejection.

Recently, I came across a situation just like this in John’s Gospel. In Chapter 9, Jesus heals a man born blind and, soon after, his parents are summoned to appear before the Jewish leaders to verify he was indeed blind and to explain how he can now see (18-23). They know that, if they say Jesus healed their son, they will be thrown out of the synagogue, so they feign ignorance. They do not want to risk acknowledging Jesus as the Christ, the coming Messiah, so leave their son to speak for himself. In that culture at that time, it would have been a fearsome thing indeed to have been thrown out of the synagogue, to be outcasts, unaccepted in their own community, so I empathise with them.

But I am aware I can also behave like them at times. I may choose to stay quiet when I know I should stand up for the things of God. Or I may decide to water down what I plan to say somewhere, in order to be more accepted. Yet in my heart, I know my worth does not come from pleasing others. Instead, it comes from God, who tells me deep down who I am, who knows everything about me, yet loves and accepts me because I belong to Jesus and believe he died for me.

He (Jesus) came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God … John 1:11-12

Now that would have to be best acceptance of all, don’t you think?

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In recent years, I have learnt a few things from our grandchildren. They are all wonderful, of course! Our oldest, Amy—eager, out-going, energetic, blonde and beautiful. Our second oldest, Olivia—warm, a little more introverted, quick sense of humour, brown-eyed and equally beautiful. And our youngest, Zain—almond-shaped eyes, black curls from his Ghanaian dad, gorgeous grin and yummy, milk-chocolate skin! It is a delight to watch them all grow and develop.

Each of them is unique and has had a different reaction when visiting us, we have noticed. When Amy, now ten, was around twelve months old, I well remember her parents walking into our home, holding this cute, blue-eyed little girl who stared solemnly at us. We stared back, absolutely spellbound. We could not take our eyes off her. Eventually, she would frown heavily, scrunch her whole face up, reach out her arm and point her finger in some other, distant direction. Clearly, she was ordering us to take our gaze elsewhere! She did not appreciate being such an object of curiosity and wanted to make her feelings known. Even then, she was mastering the ancient art of deflection.

This picture of Amy came to mind last week, when I read the account of Jesus’ meeting with the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4). I love this story for so many reasons. I love the way Jesus treats this woman with respect, even merely by speaking to her. I love how he cares enough about her to offer her ‘living water’. I love how he tries to break it gently to her that he knows all about her. And, most of all, I love how he chooses to declare to her who he really is—‘I who speak to you am he.

But my heart goes out to this Samaritan woman, as she interacts with Jesus. Can you imagine how you would feel if some stranger told you everything you ever did, as this woman herself puts it later (v39)? No wonder she seems to grasp at any straw and chooses to dabble big-time in that ancient art of deflecting! No wonder she, just like little Amy, tries to point Jesus in an entirely different direction and wriggle out of the situation!

Perhaps her question about the right place to worship was serious and important to her, perhaps it wasn’t. Whatever her thoughts at that point, I can relate to them. With stunning clarity, I see myself in this woman’s response to Jesus. Even when I know much better, how many times do I try that same ancient art of deflection? How many times do I know what Jesus is saying to me, yet I seek to centre his attention elsewhere, foolishly asking him other questions that don’t matter nearly so much?

At last I sit still, listening to the One who knows all about me. Now I put down my arm and stop pointing elsewhere. Now I give him space in my day and in my heart and mind to be who he really is—the Messiah, the Christ, the Saviour of the world sent from God to set us free.

I hear him say to me today, ‘I who speak to you am he.’ And, like the Samaritans of that town, because of his words, I believe.

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