I enjoy the season of Lent leading up to Easter, because stories of Jesus encountering men and women in the New Testament Gospels call me to a deeper faith and conversion.
John’s accounts of three people meeting Jesus have again grabbed my attention: the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4, the man born blind in John 9, and the raising of Lazarus in John 11. I have found that these stories enrich my understanding and experience of conversion as a follower of Jesus. Let’s take a look at them in the order John compiled them.
Read John 4:1-26.
As the Lord encounters the Samaritan woman at the well, she tries to deceive him, saying she has no husband. Not surprisingly, Jesus sees through her attempt to trick him, letting her know that in fact that she has had five husbands and the man she is now living with is her sixth. How would you feel after being exposed?
All of us, at some time or another, try to hide our sinfulness from God. Yet He alone can see through our self-deception, even as He did with the Samaritan woman. I still find myself pondering this question decades after I started to follow Jesus: What do I need to let the Lord see about my own sinfulness so that healing, comfort, and His living water can once again quench and satisfy my deepest thirsts?
Read John 9:1-41.
When Jesus healed the man who had been born blind, the Pharisees refuse to believe the man’s story about the healing. They confront and badger him and his parents, seemingly ignoring the reality of the healing. Eventually, the conversation leads to the man asking the Pharisees if they too want to be Jesus’ disciples. Sadly, they do not see the light (or irony) of the man’s question.
Stubbornly the religious leaders throw the man out of the synagogue. I am glad he could see to grab onto something as he fell to break his fall. The man then gets up and wanders about and again encounters Jesus, whom he has not seen since being healed. Once he discovers it is Jesus, the blind man bows down in worship. A second question I ponder often: In what ways do I need to be able to see more clearly the ways I am blind to the goodness of God?
Read John 11:1-44.
The last account I am reflecting on involves the time Jesus raised Lazarus – who had been in a tomb for four days – from the dead. The climax of the story happens when Jesus tells those standing by the tomb to unbind and unwrap Lazarus from the 70+ pounds of burial cloths and let him go free. The faith shown by Lazarus’s sisters, Martha and Mary, is a testimony to their trust in Jesus. While they grieved over their brother’s death, they still put their faith in the fact they would see him at the resurrection on the last days. What a surprise that Jesus gave them their brother back ahead of schedule. A final few questions for our consideration: In what ways does my faith need to be strengthened, especially in the face of difficulties in my life? How can I rely on others to help me shed any “burial cloths” that I need to be set free from, in order to be healed and do the things God wants me to do in my family, in school, and at work?
Think theologically. Jesus is the risen Lord even today. Allow these three stories of faith and conversion to bring us closer to the One who gives us living water, light, and new life.
Love is a verb,
©2017 by Mike Olejarz