Thursday, May 27, 2010

John 4 -- where the action is

John the Baptist shows up again, indirectly, in this chapter. As we learned earlier, John catalyzed a renewal movement that taught the need for personal repentance, in expectation of the end of the age. Messiah was coming, it was time to get ready. Jesus showed up at the event, was recognized as the promised messiah, and began attracting John's followers to his own ministry. When you see a spiritual movement in progress, excitement in the air, the human temptation is to jump in with both feet. In 1992, for example, when the former Soviet bloc was suddenly very interested in the Christian gospel, a lot of "missionary tourism" happened. Americans poured in to hold meetings and plant new churches. Who knows, maybe they even did some good!

In the USA, a lust for passive entertainment, especially when it's disguised as a spiritual renewal, has led to many harmful "dog and pony shows" with bizarre emotional outbreaks. People hear a rumor that God is at work in a new and wonderful way -- at the Toronto Vineyard church, or in Lakeland, Florida -- and caravan to the latest circus to swell the ranks of the rubes and clowns.

Jesus came to launch a new spiritual movement, to found a new Israel, a new people of faith. You would expect him to capitalize on the groundwork John had started, to use John's ministry as a foundation for his own. That's not what happened, though:
Joh 4:1-3 Ferisiler, İsa'nın Yahya'dan daha çok öğrenci edinip vaftiz ettiğini duydular aslında İsa'nın kendisi değil, öğrencileri vaftiz ediyorlardı İsa bunu öğrenince Yahudiye'den ayrılıp yine Celile'ye gitti.
The official religious leaders hear that the followers of John are becoming the followers of Jesus, and baptizing even more people into the snowballing movement. So, Jesus leaves the scene of the ferment, and walks back home to Galilee, with just a handful of disciples in tow. He finds himself in a village of Samaritans.

700 years earlier, when the Assyrians conquered and deported the land of Israel, they had replaced the native inhabitants with population exchanged from other parts of the empire. These people "feared the Lord, but served their own gods." When lions began preying on them, they suspected that they had displeased the local deity in charge of that piece of real estate, and asked their Assyrian overlords to send them Jewish rabbis. They practiced a derivative form of the Jewish religion, but were not regarded as real coreligionists. Yet, Jesus found an audience there. Apparently, his eyes saw opportunities all around, wherever he went. As he told his disciples,
Joh 4:35 "Sizler, 'Ekinleri biçmeye daha dört ay var' demiyor musunuz? İşte, size söylüyorum, başınızı kaldırıp tarlalara bakın. Ekinler sararmış, biçilmeye hazır!
The harvest is already ripe, for those with eyes to see.

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