Jesus and a sinner.

Jesus is traveling through Samaria.

We’re too politically correct to understand the cultural divide.  But imagine Billy Graham backstage at a burlesque show. Carrie Nation on a Jack Daniels Factory tour.  God as the celebrity judge on “So you think you can swear like a sailor?”

Jesus sits next to a well. A woman comes to get water.

Jesus, being God, knows she has a huge gaping hole in her chest. He knows that she has had five husbands. In a town where everyone knows everyone, that’s like a thirty-year soap opera. It’s something everyone’s talking about. It’s something everyone laughs at.

Except, I suppose, her mom.  Except, perhaps, the guy she is living with now, who loves her, perhaps, but she’s afraid to commit to.

Except, especially, Jesus.

He could poke her wound with a stick. He could call his disciples together and provide an excellent object lesson. He could do everything we imagine doing to someone we feel better than.

Instead of doing what makes sense to us, he asked her for a drink of water. He asked her for help. And then in the course of conversation she told him what he already knew, that she was hollow, that her soul was parched, that every relationship that she had tried didn’t heal the wound in her chest.  He sat there, talking with her.

She later said, in essence, “God didn’t run away when I told him what I did. In fact, he told me everything I had done, and then kept talking with me.”

Confession isn’t telling God what he doesn’t already know. It’s agreeing with him that what we’ve done hasn’t worked to fix our lives. And never will. And accepting that the water of life he offers is better than anything else we could try.

15 thoughts on “Jesus and a sinner.

  1. Johanna Fenton

    Hey Jon! This is an interesting way to define confession: “It’s agreeing with him that what we’ve done hasn’t worked to fix our lives.”

    One thing I’m really curious about is how to share the gospel in a way that hits home. Your last paragraph is something I think most people can grasp better than “confessing that which is wrong” — where the focus is on God and his holy law. Because you’re throwing the focus onto the person and their personal life. My one question is, Does something important get lost, though? What about talking about the harsh realities of sin? (I hear John Piper’s voice in my head, for instance. Not that I even really like his style.)

    I’m really just wondering.


  2. Rich Dixon

    I know that feeling–finally anknowledging that open wound and then feeling it soothed a bit for the very first time. I think I lived that woman’s life.

    Johanna-the woman shared Jesus in the most effective way possible–she shared her story honestly. People already know about the realities of sin; they need to meet the doctor.

    Jon–welcome back. I hope you found a bit of rest.


    1. Johanna Fenton

      Hi Rich, thanks. (I often tweet your material for The Seed Company, but I’m not sure we’ve formally met 🙂 I read recently that people are more interested in whether Christianity works than whether it’s true. So that’s where my question is at. I think Jon is writing for this generation of people (of whom I’m a part!). It’s just different — not always what I hear preached in my small-town church. I’m wrestling with that cultural shift, that’s all.


  3. Sara@MommaFindings

    Great post and the fact that you’ve summed it into words people can easily relate to, “Confession isn’t telling God what he doesn’t already know. It’s agreeing with him that what we’ve done hasn’t worked to fix our lives. And never will.”


  4. Joseph Ruiz

    Johanna, I struggle with saying the right things, being right being on message, trying to make sure i have covered all the points.

    What i take from this is two things. 1. The power of conversation especially in the context of story 2. Confidence in the Holy Spirit to convict, heal and direct. Often i want it to be a formula but more often i sense the grin of the Holy Spirit as He winks and says “trust me”

    BTW i really appreciate your seeking and questioning i need to do more wrestling. 🙂
    Grace and Peace
    Oh and Jon welcome back.


  5. Jared Dees

    Wow, this is such a powerful way of expressing very long stories from the Gospels. The love of God is such a powerfully active force and when we commit to opening ourselves up to grace despite feelings of guilt, we really allow God to transform us and carry us.


  6. Carolyn Gardner

    Always words of inspiration, hope and an opportunity to heal. A message that if you just give “faith” a chance, you can help to feel better about any situation. Be it your anger, anxiety, business issues, family issues. they all play a part in our lives becoming *too* busy and overwhelming.
    Also to “trust” that there is a greater love, without judgement to allow you to let go, move on and grow with a belief of hope. Thank you for this post.


  7. ken sanders

    I also love the last paragraph on confession. Sooner, not later, we need to realize that our confession needs to be more than telling God a report of our shortcoming and start allowing God to reconstruct our hearts. Very good point on not telling God what He already knows because in all aspects in life, the same principle is true.


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