“He said to her, ‘Go, call your husband and come here.'” (John 4:16)
Having gotten the attention of the woman at the well with His promise of eternal life, Jesus gets to the “hard part”: “Go, call your husband and come here.”
For many people, this wouldn’t have been difficult at all: just go get your husband or wife, and come back; no big deal. But Jesus knew that in this particular case it was tricky indeed. He responded to her claim that she had “no husband”: “You have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; this you have said truly.” (:17)
It is notable here that Jesus didn’t just “skip” the “hard part” of this woman’s case: her sinful lifestyle. And He knew He couldn’t, because the woman could not remain in her current state of disobedience and ever truly know God. Her sin had to be confronted and dealt with.
This is an important lesson for us today as well. There is a delicate balance to be maintained between loving and caring and accepting people on the one hand; and dealing with their sins which are the cause of their estrangement from God and others. That balance is difficult to maintain, and attempts to keep it are often maligned and misunderstood. But it must not be neglected it if we are to truly become like Jesus; if our discipleship of people is to be more than ineffective sentiment.
How many Christians today are unwilling to confront sin in the lives of the people we are dealing with, only wanting to be the “good guy”? How many churches are caving in to worldly standards and are unwilling to draw the line on sin, in the name of accepting people? How many “devotionals” share only the “encouraging” parts of scripture, but neglect the full counsel of God’s word, including those sections dealing with conviction of sin and the cost of discipleship?
Jesus actually began this confrontation with the woman in a way that didn’t “slap her in the face” right off: when He said to her “Go, call your husband and come here”, surely it brought about a quiet self-awareness of her sin. She must have been immediately convicted. But when she tried to be evasive about it with Him, Jesus would have none of it. Her sin had to be confronted if she was ever to get any closer to God. The same thing is true for those we know today. We have to be willing to follow in the steps of Jesus and get to the “hard part.”