Every Drop of Jesus - John 4: The Divine Have-To
There are certain things that we have to do. We can’t avoid them without some serious consequences. We have to brush our teeth or our teeth will rot away. We have to sleep. We have to work. We have to have income. We have to eat and drink. These days especially we have to heat our homes and wear thick jackets. These are things that we have to do. We have to do them or we will die (or at least the quality of our life will suffer).
Jesus had much of the same “have tos.” Remember, he was a human being. It was natural and quite normal for Jesus to get hungry and tired. We see it in John 4. John tells us that Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down near a well and asked a woman for a drink. He was tired and thirsty. Later, his disciples brought him some lunch and asked him if he wanted to eat. He had to eat. He had to drink. He had to rest. But when his disciples asked him if he wanted to eat Jesus answered them in a strange way: Meanwhile his disciples urged him, “Rabbi, eat something.” But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.” Then his disciples said to each other, “Could someone have brought him food?” “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.” (Cf. John 4:31-34). Jesus had work to do! It was his food. It was his sustenance.
He had to go to Samaria!
John actually uses those words at the beginning of John 4. Jesus and his disciples were on their way from Judea in the south to Galilee in the north. Samaria was in the middle. Normally a Jew, would go around Samaria. He/she wanted to avoid the Samaritans. It was like trying to avoid a certain part of town that is a little bit iffy and questionable. We don’t really want to go through there and maybe not even near there. But Jesus had to. He had to travel through Samaria (cf. John 4:4).
When he got there he had to engage in conversation with a Samaritan woman. That too was surprising. The woman was surprised that he, a Jewish man, was talking to her, a Samaritan woman (cf. John 4:9). His disciples came back from the grocery store with some lunch and they were surprised that he had been having a conversation with a Samaritan woman (cf. John 4:27).
But he had to! He had to tell her about water and food that would satisfy her soul in a far deeper way than a glass of cool water could ever satisfy. He had to tell her who he was, the eternal “I am,” the Messiah, the Christ, who was coming to save all people and to teach people the truth. Jesus had to! He had to go to Samaria for this woman. He had to go to Samaria for everyone else in that town who would hear about him through this woman’s witness. He had to! It was a divine necessity.
He had work to do.
Jesus had to keep on going from Samaria. It was a divine necessity. He had to keep going to Galilee so that he could heal the ruler’s son. He had to keep going throughout Galilee, Samaria, Judea and all over that region so that more and more people would hear, know and believe that he had come for them, that he was the Savior of the world (cf. John 4:42). The fields were truly ripe for the harvest (cf. John 4:35).
But he had more work to do than just preach and teach. He had to keep going from Galilee back into Judea, back into Jerusalem. He had to! He had die there in Jerusalem for the sins of the Samaritan woman and the sins of the ruler from Capernaum. He had die in Jerusalem for the sins of the world. He had to! It was a divine necessity.
He had to and he did. He gave up his life as a sacrifice for my sins and for yours. He shed his blood to forgive your sins and mine. He had to do this and he did. He finished the work that his Father sent him to do.
His Have-to Becomes our Get-to.
He labored and we benefit from him. Jesus told his disciples that it would be so: “I sent you to reap what you didn’t labor for; others have labored, and you have benefited from their labor” (John 4:38). Jesus labored throughout his life and on the cross. Jesus labored and benefit from it. We reap the forgiveness of sins flowing from the blood of his cross. We reap an eternity with our God because Jesus took the curse of our sins. We reap grace in place of grace from the work that he did.
This turns our have-to into a get-to. There is no more “have to” for us. The demands of God have all been met in Christ. The punishment of God has all been paid at the cross. God is no longer standing over us with his arms folded saying, “You have to…”. Instead, our feet run to do what God calls us to do. Our have-to becomes a get-to. No one had to tell this woman to go back to her town and tell her neighbors about Jesus. No one told her to do this, but that’s what she did. She left that well moved by the love of Jesus to tell everyone in the town about Jesus.
It was her privilege. It was her joy. Jesus had taken the mess of her life and was now going to use her for ministry. He took her past away, forgiving it all. And now he was going to use her to get the gospel to so many more people. Her whole town was converted because this woman went back to tell them about what Jesus had said to her.
This is our privilege and our joy. Jesus does the same in our life. He turns our mess into our ministry. He forgives our sins and then uses us to serve other people. That is now our work: to take the gospel to our homes, our neighborhoods and communities. That is now our work: To comfort people with same comfort we have received from God. To encourage people with same encouragement we have received. To forgive people just as we have been forgiven.
This is what we get to do with our lives. And Jesus will use it. He has to.