AT THE WELL III – Acceptance

Due to the inherent sin that had passed down from Adam, the-woman-at-the-well was born cut off (separated) from God. Her isolation from a righteous and holy God is one that is suffered by us all. It is the greatest of all rejections experienced in this world, and it is of mankind’s own creation. But additionally, further isolation results from judgments that are made against one another, breaking relationships that could have otherwise proven to be supportive in nature.

Being a Samaritan, the-woman-at-the-well was cut off from Temple worship in Jerusalem. Being a woman, she was cut off from the status and legal rights given to men. Being considered a failure by men at marriage, she was cut off from the support that a husband could give. Being considered a failure as a wife, she was cut off from other women who had found favor among men. (The only real means that a woman had of being a “success” in those days was to birth sons to her husband.) Living with a man to whom she was not married, she was cut off from everyone who considered themselves to be more respectable than she. And in her own mind and heart, she was cut off from all hope of ever living an honorable life, of ever being found acceptable by anyone, not even herself. In believing that she had been labeled as being of little value to anyone, the-woman-at-the-well was an outcast among outcasts. She was a debilitated soul in desperate need of restorative acceptance. She needed wholeness that only Iesus has to give to her.

17 On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

Sin and sickness work in tandem, back and forth, one after the other, They erect barriers that restrict people from living the life that God has designed for us to live with Him.

The Greek word that is translated as sinners in Mark 2:17b is hamartolos, defined by HELPS as “loss from falling short of what God approves.” It involves forfeiture due to “missing the mark”—being less than perfect, not whole, not well; being sinful people who can’t help but sin again and again.

Without doubt, the-woman-at-the-well was judged to have “missed the mark.” She had fallen short of acceptance by numerous measurements that had been made against her. But the misuse of the measurements themselves also fell short of the mark, finding sinful application in the hearts and minds of those who used the measurements to further continue isolating the woman. What she needed was compassion, not further rejection, for the verdicts that had been waged against her were divisionary. They condemned her, keeping the-woman-at-the-well distanced from others. As a result, the disconnections shortchanged them all. Everyone involved missed out on the potential good that the positive relationships that were missing between them could have provided for them all.

IIn fact, apparently the shame of public judgment upon the-woman-at-the-well was so great that it was the cause of her going to the well alone in the hot noonday sun, rather than going in the morning’s coolness with the other women. By purposefully avoiding the other women of her village, the-woman-at-the-well only constrained her activities all the more, increasing the judgment with which she convicted herself. The overall culprit behind the degradation was sin—wrong actions based on wrong thinking, and the overall outcome behind it all was sickness—a broken (less than complete) state of existence. The entire situation fell short of the wholeness of which God approves. Everyone involved “missed the mark.” No one was well, for they were all extremely sick in their thinking.

In Jesus’ parallel statements in Mark 2:17b (above), sick is translated from kakos, which is defined by HELPS as “…sore-misery related to experiencing grievous harm (affliction).” Strong’s definition of the word is “badly (physically or morally) —amiss, diseased, evil, grievously, miserably, sick, sore.”

However, the Greek word that is also translated as sick in James 5:15 is a different word. It is one that emphasizes the tiredness that is associated with not being well. 

15 And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven.

 In that verse, sick is translated from the Greek word kamno, which is defined by HELPS as “…weary to the point of sickness, ‘spent,’ ready to collapse (especially from over-work).” Strong’s short definition is “I am weary, ill.” Considered together, kakos and kamno provide a more complete picture of the overall broken condition of mankind that is generally known as sickness.

Brokenness of any kind, though, regardless of its cause, requires a person to expend energy in excess of that which is normally required to accomplish the same tasks as when they are in a state of wellness. Brokenness is draining. It depletes reserves and leads to shortages of energy that create ongoing tiredness of the soul and/or body.

Weariness, affliction, sickness, misery all indicate weakness:  a lack of strength that is incapacitating, incapable of completely overcoming physical and/or spiritual harm. This is the reason for Jesus’ Presence, why He presented Himself to the-woman-at-the-well, to the leper, to the paralytic, and to an untold number of others. It is why Jesus continues presenting Himself to us today.

Only Jesus is strong enough to always stand for us in perfect faith of God against every adversary/adversity that weakens people, destroying lives both inside and out. Unlike the people to whom Jesus ministers, Jesus alone is whole. Unbroken in any manner, Jesus has no weak spots, no vulnerabilities. He can’t fall because He can’t fail to stand. Jesus’ perfect performance is God’s perfect solution to overcome every weakness in this world. Jesus alone is capable of restoring wellness in all of Creation. The need for Jesus is more than profound; it is universal. While the need for Jesus may be interpreted at first glance as being a weakness in the human condition, it is in the end, in having been filled with the fullness of Christ Jesus Himself, our God-given strength that makes us well.

Matthew 12:13 marks the first time that the two Greek words hugies (two-part wellness of body and doctrine) and apokathistemi (restoration – see part I) are used in the same verse in the New Testament. This time, though, hugies is translated into English as the word sound, which still carries the same meaning as does wholeness.

 13 Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” So he stretched it out and it was completely restored, just as sound as the other.

Here Jesus is restoring the withered hand of a man whom He had encountered in a synagogue on a Sabbath. But in doing that, Jesus also did much more. He restored right-thinking about the Sabbath’s true nature and the worship of God to all who were present to witness Jesus in action. 

When Jesus openly made the man’s hand strong and whole in a manner that all could see, He rightly worshipped God by reflecting God’s glory that restoration reveals. He also displayed the strength that is needed to stand firm in confronting all opposition to the Truth of God, no matter where it is encountered, even if that designated place is a place of worship. That strength comes from God alone in right relationship (Oneness) with God.

Oneness with God is perfect wholeness. It is what Jesus freely drew upon to give the man with a withered hand and others whatever it was that they each clearly needed. Every restoration that occurs through Jesus is the result of Jesus having put His faith in His Father’s perfection to work in Him, empowering (strengthening) Him to do His Father’s will perfectly. In doing so, Jesus always restores life to the full measure of God’s good grace in Him. Every action of Jesus throughout His ministry is connected to words that serve God in delivering the world from the power, penalty, and presence of evil and into the power, privilege, and presence of God’s goodness. Jesus’ ministry on Earth is God’s example to mankind of the restorative power of Holy Spirit enabling that is received from God in Oneness with Him.

Though the Holy Spirit Himself comes suddenly, providing complete enabling, the transition in our thinking that puts that enabling to work through faith is more often than not progressive, not instantaneous. Lingering doubts or disbeliefs regarding the fullness of God’s promises that are at work in us can prevent us from walking in greater fullness of God’s blessings. They can also keep us from distributing those blessings more fully right here and now, as God’s will would have us all to do.

In John 5, an account is given of Jesus having made well a man who had been suffering as an invalid for thirty-eight long years. Jesus found the man lying alongside the pool of Bethesda in Jerusalem, where the man had hoped to receive one of the rare miraculous healings for which the pool was known. As Jesus first approached the man, He asked a question that had two potential meanings, for it contained the word hugies. Jesus asked the invalid, “Do you want to get well?” (vs. 6)

Jesus’ question went straight to the heart of the matter at hand, addressing both the man’s physical and spiritual needs. Even though the pool had become the man’s home away from home, such as it was, the man most surely wanted to get well physically, to be enabled to get up and go at will, to be made strong. But the question that may have sounded unnecessary on the surface also penetrated deeper to address the man’s soul. Was the man open to receiving the Truth of God’s grace that Jesus was about to extend to him in personally meeting the man’s dire physical need? Did the man not only want to get on with his life, living the way that God wanted him to be living it? Was he willing to leave his small self-centered world behind in exchange for an everlastingly greater one that Jesus’ Presence on Earth would offer to him, to his nation and to the world?

Jesus’ “world” (way of life) is one of self-sacrifice that restores all that self-centeredness destroys. Nailed to the Cross, Jesus would take sin and its destructiveness from mankind and place it upon Himself. He would deliver every soul who would personally accept Him as Savior from sin’s due penalty forever. His suffering would be mankind’s salvation—rescue, deliverance, preservation—that would remove sin’s presence from their futures and its power over them in the present. Then, as Jesus would walk out of the Tomb, His Eternal Life would deliver them into a new life of complete restoration that would far surpass even the good one that mankind originally had with God in the Garden of Eden.

The message of Jesus is one of overwhelming acceptance:  Every individual life is so immeasurably valuable to God that He willingly gives His all for the total well-being of each and every one.

Acceptance is the message that the-woman-at-the-well received when Jesus’ Presence coincided in both time and place with her own at the well. In His Presence, His words changed her outlook about her future, increasing her sense of worth and giving her hope for a better life ahead. Made apparent to the-woman-at-the-well in her conversation with Jesus was the startling realization that an all-knowing God had always had His eye on her, for the Savior whom He had sent knew exactly who she was and what she needed. But even more astounding must have been the realization that the Messiah (of all people!) was willing to give to her (of all people!) living water that she could not even fathom, and all that He required of her was that she ask Him to freely give it to her! What better revelation could she or anyone else have received in their first encounter with Jesus than that?

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