Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Real Thing

The Real thing! We all remember that familiar marketing slogan from back in the 60s and 70s. Other favorites were “Coke Adds Life” and “Can’t Beat the Real Thing”. Let's face it. Coca-Cola has always distinguished itself as being the best of the best. And to a certain extent, it is! Think about it. No other soft drink company has been able to achieve the status of excellence that Coca-Cola has. Sure, there are other good colas, many of which I like better than Coke. But the point is, Coke was able to make its product “appear” as the benchmark for all other drinks. Pretty amazing when you think about it! But what's the essence of what they are trying to get across? Coke is the only soda that will make you really happy! All the others are imitators, impostors and fakes! Is that true? Of course not! But Coke has made America believe that it is the real thing!

This morning, I was reading John 4:1-26, and some cool things jumped out at me. In this chapter, we find a story of Jesus talking with a woman from a place called Samaria. Take a look at a map of Palestine in Jesus’ day. Look at where Galilee is located in relation with Judea. Where is Samaria? If a Jew was traveling from Judea to Galilee, Samaria might be the best half way point where they would stop off a look for a Buc-ees, right? Wrong! Samaria was avoided at all costs! In fact, the Jews would travel east, cross the Jordan, begin traveling North and cross the Jordan again at Galilee, probably just below the Sea of Galilee. That’s what I call taking the scenic route! Well, there was a very good reason for that. The Jews hated the Samaritans. These were people that had intermarried with the Assyrian captors in ancient Israel. Basically, they slept with the enemy! The faith and culture of Israel had been polluted and so they were seen and “half-breeds”. So in John 4:4, why does it say that Jesus “had” to go through Samaria? To get His point across!

Because of their mixed race, the Samaritans shared similar beliefs as the Jews. So the woman starts asking Jesus about where the best place to worship God is. Is it in Samaria or is it in Jerusalem? Jesus basically says, "Neither one!" What He is trying to get across to the woman is that “worship” has nothing to do with where you worship. It has nothing to do with your race, the color of your skin, your sex or the amount of husbands you've had in the past. The focus is who you are worshipping. Jesus is pointing her to Himself! He's saying, "I'm the real thing!" The world us offers water. Yes, it's good water! It's purified, sparkling, spring water with a cool bottle and a fancy label! But it's still water. No matter how good it might taste and how it might appear to quench the thirst, it’s not The Real Thing! Only Christ has the “living water” that will truly quench the thirst and refresh the soul. That’s what Jesus is trying to get across to the woman and to us today. He’s the real thing. The only thing.

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