“Does God really hear me? Is he listening?” We can find answers to questions like this by reading the four Gospels. The Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) are the first four books in the New Testament section of the Bible. The Gospels tell the story of when Jesus was walking on earth, fully God and fully human. The Bible explains that “Christ is the visible image of the invisible God…” (Colossians 1:15, New Living Translation). Therefore, when we want to learn what God is like, we can study the accounts of Jesus Christ’s time on earth that are recorded in the Gospels.
Today we will look for the answer to our question in the book of John. John is the Gospel written by one of Jesus’ twelve disciples (Arnold & Köstenberger, 2002, p. 3). This means John was an eyewitness of what he reports in this book. Let’s look at some of the people Jesus interacted with in the first few chapters of John.
Jesus frequently talked with people of high social status. For example, John reports a conversation between Jesus and a man named Nicodemus in John 3:1-21. Nicodemus held a very high position in Jewish culture as a religious leader (Arnold & Köstenberger, 2002, p. 33). So, here we find Jesus listening to and talking with a member of the Jewish cultural elite.
Jesus frequently talked with people of low social status. The next conversation John records is between Jesus and a Samaritan woman in John 4:1-30. This one is surprising! When John records that Jesus “had to go through Samaria” in verse 4:4, it does not mean it was the only way to get where he was going. In fact, the most pious Jews would travel around Samaria to avoid the risk of becoming unclean by contact with a Samaritan. Jews held hostility toward the Samaritans because of ethnic differences (Arnold & Köstenberger, 2002, p. 45).
A Samaritan woman, by all accounts, held a low social status. Hence the disciples’ shock when they find him speaking with her alone in verse 4:27. Speaking alone (a Jewish male) with a Samaritan woman crosses social boundaries in three shocking ways. First, there would have been social tension to find two strangers (one a man, the other a woman) speaking to each other alone at a well (Brant, 2011, p. 83). Second, rabbis often taught it was inappropriate to provide religious education to a woman (Arnold & Köstenberger, 2002, p. 48). Third, Samaritan women were considered in Jewish culture to be unclean from their birth (Brant, 2011, p. 83).
So, where does this leave us with our questions about whether God hears us and is listening? If Jesus was willing to stop and listen to people without regard for their place in society, then our Heavenly Father is listening regardless of our standing in society. We can be well-connected, highly educated, and wealthy, and God will hear us. Or, we can be a high school dropout, in prison, experiencing homelessness, or among the working-class poor, and God is still listening.
If you have watched a sporting event on TV, you have probably seen people holding signs that say “John 3:16”. This verse speaks to us about God’s inclusiveness. He sent his Son to “the world” – to all of us. He did this because he loves us. Therefore, anyone who decides to believe in Jesus, believes in the one who sent Jesus. They will be given eternal life. In Colossians, this message is called “the Good News” that changes lives today (see Colossians 1:6). We can talk to God. He will listen, just as Christ (the visible image of the invisible God) listened and spoke with Nicodemus and the Samaritan woman at the well.
Easter Sunday is approaching. This is the day Christians celebrate to commemorate Jesus being brought back to life after being dead for three days. As God gave Jesus life after his physical death, God provides us the opportunity to have a new spiritual life now. It starts by entering into a conversation. He will hear you and welcome you.
I encourage you to read the book of John to learn the rest of the story!
Arnold, C.E. & Köstenberger, A.J., (2002). Zondervan illustrated bible backgrounds commentary, Volume 2. Zondervan.
Brant, J.A., (2011). John. BakerAcademic.
Holy Bible: New Living Translation. (2015). Tyndale House Publishers.
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