Simplicity in Samaria

John 4:39-45

And from that city many of the Samaritans believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, ‘He told me all the things that I have done.’ So when the Samaritans came to Him, they were asking Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days. And many more believed because of His word; and they were saying to the woman, ‘It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this One is indeed the Savior of the world.’ And after the two days He went forth from there into Galilee. For Jesus Himself testified that a prophet has no honor in his own country. So when He came to Galilee, the Galileans received Him, having seen all the things that He did in Jerusalem at the feast; for they themselves also went to the feast.

John may not write absolutely chronologically but he does write chronological sections and certainly writes sequentially at times, especially when it pertains to the themes. John writes semi-chronologically, semi-sequentially and thoroughly thematically–not bad for a fisherman. Nevertheless, John keeps it simple by sticking to the sublimely simple.

We’ll also see, Lord willing, that people questioned the abilities of Jesus, being only an uneducated carpenter’s son, yet Jesus speaks simply. We will also see, Lord willing of course, that Jesus did not do anything on his own initiative but was following the father’s lead. John also, followed God’s lead, yet his vocabulary and themes emerge in all his writings. Paul wrote, “all Scripture is God-breathed,” therefore we understand that the Biblical authors were inspired by God. Hence, when reading the Bible one need not be a Biblical scholar but a student of the Spirit–he wrote the book, while allowing the authors’ personality and perspectives play into their personal pennings. Because of this, we want to see what the Spirit shows and not read into the Bible but draw out what the Spirit says, while jiving with the genre and the author’s aspirations to his audience.

The best way I’ve found to do this is to keep it simple because the Bible wasn’t written to scholars. And to utilize a consistent hermeneutical system, such as the CAGED method of Biblical hermeneutics, where; Context is King, Author’s Aspirations to his Audience are Apex, Genre is the General, Expository Exegesis of Examples Enlightens and Dividing Rightly the Word of Truth either confirms or cancels our preconceived notions and presuppositions. We keep the Bible caged with our current cultural climate and clutter, our taught traditions, presuppositions, presumptions and preconceived notions. All of this and worse, we listen, in fact, over-pay to listen to false prophets. Here’s the thing about a prophet who claims to be from the Lord, he should never be wrong.

Now let me get a little controversial; the worst way to read the Bible is to pray for special insight into the Bible, it will first, cloud one’s judgment. While prayer is certainly an important part in life, even one’s prayers should be influenced by the Scripture. Special insight doesn’t fit into the way in which the Bible was written. Special insights are what get us into trouble. Special insights are not necessary now as they were then and even then, they still were not the norm. Even pragmatically, one let’s a book dictate the direction and not some secret insight. The Bible was written to be read– first, in part, progressively looking forward but now that it has long been completed– as a whole, letting the Scripture interpret Scripture, looking for fulfillment of the Old in the New. We see this in John’s gospel account. The book of Hebrews is written in the same way as is Colossians, that the shadow of the Old Points to the New. While Abraham looked forward, we have the ability to look back but not to go back. We have to let the Bible interpret itself and not by a “spiritual” insight. Because the Spirit wrote the book, we have to read the book the way in which it was written, simply, for the simple-minded. Because it has been recorded and written, where special insight is easily faked, and difficult to prove, one should read it in the way in which it was written. Yet even when a special insight or prophetic word is disproved, people still follow the false prophets. To sum up, who are you going to believe, the recorded and compiled words of the Holy Spirit or Sid Roth, Harold Camping and the rest who have been dead wrong?

Nevertheless prayer is essential for reading the Bible. But even a cursory look at the Lord’s prayer shows us that we magnify the Lord and humble ourselves. We literally pray to keep it simple stupid. We are not told to run around praying in tongues or prophesying, boastfully beating our breast because of our “spiritual gifts.” But rather to walk humbly with God. Remember reggae, “what has been hid from the wise,” is pulled from the pages of the Bible. Matthew 11:25; At that time Jesus said, “I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants.”

We will delve deeper into all of these things in the future, Lord willing, but we get a glimpse of this in today’s text. We’ve also seen it a thousand times in Scripture, “by the testimony of two or three witnesses shall everything be confirmed.” If the prophet says the Lord told him that Trump would win in a landslide and Trump doesn’t win at all, we have confirmation that the prophet is a false prophet. The prophecy was not confirmed by the Lord. Ironically enough, these prophets see the nation Israel as God’s chosen people with the plan to return them to the land under Judaic law. How were the Jews to react to a false prophet under the Mosaic Law? We don’t want to be legalistic but we should certainly stop listening to them and stop sending them money.

In today’s text we see a great example of the earthly ministry of Jesus that can actually cross over to us in our “post apostolic” times. The Samaritan people first believed by the testimony of the woman at the well but then inquired of Jesus themselves, solidifying their belief. In the same way we can listen to those testifying but then we must search the Scripture to see if it is real or false. The Berean church of the first century did this very thing, without the New Testament. They searched the Old Testament to see if what Paul preached was the truth.

“And the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea; and when they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily, to see whether these things were so. Many of them therefore believed, along with a number of prominent Greek women and men. But when the Jews of Thessalonica found out that the word of God had been proclaimed by Paul in Berea also, they came there likewise, agitating and stirring up the crowds.”

At least Nostradamus was ambiguous about his prophesies leaving the interpretation to the mind of the reader but there was no ambiguity in what was said by Sid Roth and his many guests concerning the reelection of Donald Trump in the year 2020. They left no ambiguity or any room for a 2024 election of Donald Trump as a fulfillment of their alleged prophecy. They were too specific to leave any room for this. Nevertheless, they will double down somehow and people will continue to “learn” from these proven false-prophets–it tickles their itching ears I suppose, though I hate to rip things out of context. Nevertheless, history repeats itself and as we grow up in the Lord, there are definite and definable ebbs and flows– the western church is ebbing. However ebbs come before the flows. Before the reformation there were the dark ages and the bubonic plague. Perhaps the false prophets and mega-church pastors are actually paving the way for true revival in conjunction with the Coronavirus. The problem is that we may not be here to see it. It is entirely possible that our sins have caught up with us.

Then again, this city in Samaria was changed in two days, without Christ yet dying on the cross, the Spirit coming or social media, much like Nineveh at the preaching of Jonah. Word of mouth can be a powerful thing, especially when it is coupled to the word of God. That is, the actual words of God, recorded and not ripped out of context. One need look no further than false prophets and errant interpretations of Scripture to understand the demise of society. False, false, false. We forgot to keep it simple stupid. Also, taking a page out of the ministry of Jesus, he started with one woman in today’s scenario.

“And from that city many of the Samaritans believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, ‘He told me all the things that I have done.’ So when the Samaritans came to Him, they were asking Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days. And many more believed because of His word; and they were saying to the woman, ‘It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this One is indeed the Savior of the world.'”

“The Savior of the world–” we’re not taught this anymore, are we? Let’s look back at John’s gospel account to this point, remembering that we’re only about 1/5 the way through, and count the number of times that we see Jesus as the Savior of the world.

John 1:29; “The next day he saw Jesus coming to him, and said, ‘Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!'” John 3:17, “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world should be saved through Him.” John 4:42; “and they were saying to the woman, ‘It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this One is indeed the Savior of the world.'”

Coupled with the literary language used by John, I would say that we have found a simple theme in John’s gospel account. But it is not merely a theme of John’s gospel account but is prevalent in his epistles as well. 1 John 2:2; and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.” And in chapter four, verse fourteen we read the following: “And we have beheld and bear witness that the Father has sent the Son to be the Savior of the world.”

Look again at today’s text and juxtapose it with today’s current cultural climate. Juxtapose it to the prophecy pundits and dogmatic dispensationalists. While we’re at it, let’s juxtapose it to Isaiah 64:1; “Oh that You would rend the heavens and come down, That the mountains might quake at Your presence.” Let continue with this, let’s compare it to Zechariah: “And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which is in front of Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives will be split in its middle from east to west by a very large valley, so that half of the mountain will move toward the north and the other half toward the south.” Now let’s juxtapose ourselves with Israel and this city of Samaria.

Think of the themes in Scripture. Man is fallen, mortal and stupid but God “created the stars also.” Billions of nuclear balls beaming from space and it’s almost an afterthought to mention them in the creation story. Meaning that astronomical upon astronomical is one word from the mouth of our Lord, yet he condescended to our “Kosmas” to build his kingdom. What happens “behind the scenes” is often described by astronomical events as symbolism of God’s great power. Yet the astronomical appears as simple in the plain grammar and writing of the historical narrative.

“And many more believed because of His word; and they were saying to the woman, ‘It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this One is indeed the Savior of the world.”‘

The heavens didn’t rend literally, the stars didn’t fall, literally and no one suddenly vanished. We don’t read of earth quakes, blood moons or the mountains splitting in twine. Why then do we look for such things in our days rather than ascribe them to Jesus coming in judgment against apostate Israel and look to Jesus as the true food and the Spirit as the ever-increasing, living-water, described by Ezekiel, Isaiah, Zechariah, John and Jesus? We want our itching ears tickled as much as the first century Judaic adherents. We want the fanciful and sensational not the simple, grassroots, organic operation of preaching the gospel. Literary language indicates that we have a big God who works behind the seen (pun), who gave us a simple task. But since we don’t see the unseen with our literal eyes, we miss the mark of the beast (another pun).

We want the world to go to hell in a handbasket so that we can say, “ha, told you so!” when we disappear in a rapture rescue. We’re not supposed to see the world this way, it’s what Israel did, even in the days of Jesus. John tells us that the Jews had no dealings with their neighbors and relatives, the Samaritans. In the same way, we, hopeless sinners, look down our noses at the homosexual, the transgender, the abortion doctors and antifa activists, thinking that we are smarter and better than they; we are not. Nothing in our flesh is any different from them. Nevertheless, the “social gospel” is equally as erroneous as the “Israel gospel” which states, “you prayed a prayer, now be good.” The Lord’s standard of perfection is unattainable in the flesh. We are saved by grace through faith, explicitly explained by Paul, and it is a gift. We then use this gift to look at the world and condemn them, just like Jesus did to the woman at the well (sarcasm alert). It’s almost like we’ve got it all wrong, just like Israel. We are told by Jesus to love our neighbors and our enemies, the Pharisees taught traditions that said “hate your enemies.”

We’ve lost the simplicity of the gospel. We’ve lost the the meaning of prophecy– “For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” The purpose of prophecy is to point people to Jesus, then his cross, then his resurrection then judgment of the Judaic traditions and our need for Jesus and resurrection and not Judaism– not works but Spirit. Again, this is exemplified in baptism. The gospel is new life in Christ. Notice that very early on in John’s gospel account, Jesus revealed himself to the outcasts of Judaism– the Samaritans. Yet we have also seen earlier that, “He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”

Sid Roth has doubled down and promised repentance if he is wrong concerning the landslide reelection of Trump. Therein we should see the truth, in his doubt. Either God lied or Sid Roth lied and we all know that God didn’t lie. We also know that Sid Roth won’t repent of his prophetic abilities but that he merely “misinterpreted” the prophecy given. Male bovine fecal matter! He explicitly stated, that God explicitly stated, a landslide victory on election night without ambiguity. Sid Roth is a false prophet who propagates other false prophets. While I usually avoid this, look out your window, false prophets are everywhere.

I’m remembering the movie Casablanca, for more than one scene. “Vultures, Vultures everywhere– everywhere.” And, “You repeat ‘the third reich’ as if you expect there to be another.” Amongst many other quotations, most of which you’re probably not familiar. But what snaps in my mind is the wager between Captain Renault and Rick concerning the escape of Victor Laszlo from Casablanca. If you don’t know the story, Rick wagered that Victor would escape while Captain Renault believed he wouldn’t because it was his job to keep Victor in Casablanca. Captain Renault bet on himself and his abilities without giving a thought about the history of Victor Laszlo escaping. In the same way, the western church is hyper-focused on itself and verses ripped out of context. We fail to see how the martyrs paved the way for us to live in extraordinary times. We have taken our foot off of the proverbial accelerator of the Great Commission to live the American Dream and the chickens have come home to roost.

Many ministries have prophecy as their backbone. It is no wonder that they are unwilling to change their minds. They could lose their livelihood. This is a sharp indictment but sadly it is a proven truth. Many who have switched to the simple from the fanciful have lost millions of dollars and even more followers.

We’re in for a world of hurt, comparably speaking if we continue to believe that the world gets worse. That is, we have had unbelievable, to the early church, religious liberty. What would a first-century worshiper from the church in Smyrna say about our situation? “You have buildings dedicated for worship? that’s insane, they will know exactly where to find you– those mask won’t help you hide either. ” No, they would understand that Revelation was true, that the gospel made great gains. He would be baffled by our bickering, I’m sure, but I am also sure that if he heard the prophecy pundits he would balk.

I am asked about prophets from my friends in a certain communist country in the Caribbean. I am not dogmatic about this. I have no doubt that Jesus has visited people in dreams but the criteria for such a visit is high and the threshold is wide. (another indictment against the west). History repeats itself as we progress in the gospel but not ever back to square one. True prophets were poor and hated, sometimes naked, in Old Testament times, more so in New Testament times but the false prophets are loved, revered and rich. I guess nothing has changed, actually. People placed on a pedestal the false prophets and hated the true prophets of God. The true prophets spoke truth and the false prophets, which were more numerous, lied but boy were they popular. I will tell you what I tell my friends in C–a, you have the Bible at your fingertips, you don’t have any need of prophets or even many of your pastors because they don’t consider the context.

Prophecy pundits are like communists, both propagate propaganda and give people their bread and circuses. Therefore to my friends in a certain communist country in the Caribbean, I have to say, you no longer have need of prophets, you have the words provided by your bread, which is very little, and your circuses, which are smartphones and wifi. If you don’t think Jesus reigns, my friends in a certain communist country in the Caribbean have free Bible apps. They don’t need prophets but they do need the CAGED method. Can you figure out my literary language?

Like John assumed that his first-century audience would be able to figure out the mark of the beast, I assume that you can figure out in which country my friends live. I call it a Certain Communist Country in the Caribbean. Four C’s representative of the four letters of the country’s name but also beginning with a C. Do I write to far-future folks who may live in a time where this certain communist country in the Caribbean may no longer be communist but in which America is? No, I write to our days with the hope that future folks focus on our follies. My message for the future is to not let horrible history repeat itself–learn from history and do the good things that the the church has done and not the bad–keep it simple.

Prophets, miracles and healings helped usher in the kingdom but truly dig deeper into the context and notice that even with a myriad of miracles and hundreds of healings they still put Jesus and his disciples to death. It’s the irony of our heritage.

John calls the believers priests and a kingdom, not prophets and a house of healers. As Paul’s letters progress, we see the disappearance of prophecy and signs but even early on he describes the purpose of signs, especially speaking in tongues. To the church in Corinth Paul quotes Isaiah and points to the coming judgment against Jerusalem. The word “coming” itself is used as judgment language. In Matthew 24, borrowed from the Old Testament prophets, if the disciples were asking Jesus about his return, why did they use the word “coming?” They didn’t ask, “when will you come back,” or “when will you return?” But rather they used the word which implies judgment in the Bible. It is sublimely simple–read the Bible as a whole and not litte pieces of verses which were not intended to stand alone.

Nevertheless we see simple truth in some of the different stories but still must keep the stories in context. We see how Jesus changed a city almost overnight–he talked to the people about himself. While we certainly don’t have the ability to know every single sin about others, as Jesus did with the woman at the well, we know our sin and that everyone sins. A great way to witness is have one’s finger pointing at one’s self. That was the testimony of the woman at the well. Jesus confirmed that testimony.

Normally I would scrap the majority of what I wrote at this point, preferring a more polished piece of literature. But after attending my Grandmother’s memorial service, socially distanced and masked, I have decided to release my sloppiness for the world to see. I dedicate this piece of garbage to my grandmother’s memory and her legacy, vis á vi her progeny (another pun for her progeny.) My grandmother, as spoken of by her grandchildren and her pastor, kept it simple. But this woman could think for herself, so long as she could use her hands to reason.

Yes Jesus supernaturally saw all that the woman had done and used this to get her moving in the right direction. Nevertheless Jesus kept it simple, he spoke of himself as the Messiah. Jesus didn’t start a radio broadcast promoting prophecy pundits but got down to the woman’s level through the preaching of the gospel. The woman was in need of a Savior and Jesus came to be the Savior of the world, one woman at a well at a time, figuratively speaking, because we see Jesus preaching the gospel to large crowds as well. And let’s not forget that Jesus preached and stayed with the Samaritans for two days, after he fled Jerusalem. This was unheard of at the time. Let’s keep it simple and leave the supernatural to the Spirit.

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