Daily Devotional for May 6-12
Therefore, when the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John 2 (though Jesus Himself did not baptize, but His disciples), 3 He left Judea and departed again to Galilee. 4 But He needed to go through Samaria.
5 So He came to a city of Samaria which is called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. 6 Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied from His journey, sat thus by the well. It was about the sixth hour.
7 A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give Me a drink.” 8 For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.
9 Then the woman of Samaria said to Him, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?” For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.
10 Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.”
11 The woman said to Him, “Sir, You have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep. Where then do You get that living water? 12 Are You greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, as well as his sons and his livestock?”
13 Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”
15 The woman said to Him, “Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw.”
16 Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.”
17 The woman answered and said, “I have no husband.”
Jesus said to her, “You have well said, ‘I have no husband,’ 18 for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; in that you spoke truly.”
19 The woman said to Him, “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship.”
21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. 24 God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”
25 The woman said to Him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When He comes, He will tell us all things.”
26 Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am He.”
27 And at this point His disciples came, and they marveled that He talked with a woman; yet no one said, “What do You seek?” or, “Why are You talking with her?”
28 The woman then left her waterpot, went her way into the city, and said to the men, 29 “Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?” 30 Then they went out of the city and came to Him.
31 In the meantime His disciples urged Him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.”
32 But He said to them, “I have food to eat of which you do not know.”
33 Therefore the disciples said to one another, “Has anyone brought Him anything to eat?”
34 Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work. 35 Do you not say, ‘There are still four months and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look at the fields, for they are already white for harvest! 36 And he who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together. 37 For in this the saying is true: ‘One sows and another reaps.’ 38 I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored, and you have entered into their labors.”
39 And many of the Samaritans of that city believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, “He told me all that I ever did.” 40 So when the Samaritans had come to Him, they urged Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days. 41 And many more believed because of His own word.
42 Then they said to the woman, “Now we believe, not because of what you said, for we ourselves have heard Him and we know that this is indeed the Christ,[a] the Savior of the world.”
Illumined with the love of Christ, the Apostle Paul acknowledged, in his Epistle to the Philippians, that for him death is a gain because his life is Christ’s. Paul’s love for Christ draws him toward death so that he may stand by Christ as soon as possible, but his love for the faithful compels him to remain in the flesh. However, these are not two loves that attract the Apostle and pull him in two directions, but one and the same love that opens before him two treasures of wealth. One treasure is the blessed world in heaven, and the other treasure is the souls of the faithful on earth. That heavenly treasure is increased by that earthly treasure; both treasures flow together into one. To go to heaven— to that the Apostle is drawn by love and reward; to remain on earth— to that he is drawn by love and duty. When mortal man, my brethren, discovers that it is more important to remain in the flesh out of love for his brothers, how is it strange that the Eternal God knew, before the Apostle, that it was more important to be in the flesh for the salvation of mankind than out of the flesh in the spiritual kingdom? Does not this confession of Paul before the Philippians explain to us with complete clarity the reasons for the Incarnation of the Son of God? There, in heaven, is the true Kingdom of Christ and the true life of Christ, without the mingling of sin and death. But the Son of God’s love toward men deemed it necessary to remain in the flesh on earth among men. Truly, we need to be thankful to the Apostle Paul that he, in explaining himself to us, explained the mystery of Christ’s coming and His dwelling in the flesh. O
From where does this contradiction in Pilate [at the crucifixion] stem? From where is this dual will in one and the same man? While he stood under the radiant face of Christ, Pilate with all his heart wanted to release the Just Man. But when the darkness of the Jews overcame him, he agreed to the works of darkness. This is the seed fallen among the thorns. While the face of Christ shone on the seed, the seed took root, but as soon as the seed was left without this light, the darkness of the thorns smothered it. When the Lord Jesus authoritatively spoke to Pilate of the Heavenly Kingdom, saying to him, Thou couldest have no power at all against Me, except it were given thee from above (John 19: 11), Pilate then felt overcome by the fear of God. But when the masses of the Jews cried out to Pilate, saying, If thou let this man go, thou art not Caesar’s friend (John 19: 12), then Pilate was overcome with fear of the worldly king. His fear for his body overcame his fear for his soul, as sometimes happens even to this day. Pilate was a disciple of worldly wisdom. Worldly wisdom does not offer strength but instills fear. Worldly wisdom sustains not the soul but the body. Worldly wisdom does not instill fear for the soul but fear for the body and all that is physical.
…in Pilate, we see an obvious and pathetic example of what type of men worldly wisdom produces and educates— disregarding God and opposing Christ. Pilate’s weak character and wavering soul is a picture, not only of pagans, but also of weak Christians. Certain Christians daily, imperceptibly, and more often unconsciously, would for a while like to free Christ from the darkened and evil Jewish instinct within themselves. Then at other times, they are ready, from that instinct, to abandon Him to crucifixion. This always happens when a Christian transgresses some of the commandments of Christ for the sake of fulfilling some of his own physical desires. For a moment, that commandment enlightens the heart of a wavering Christian, and again for a moment, the physical darkness overcomes him so much that he completely succumbs to it.
Why do some people, well educated and baptized as Christians, fall away from Christianity and give themselves over to philosophy and pedantic theories, pretending that these are truer than Christianity? They do so for two principal reasons: either because of a totally superficial understanding of Christianity or because of sin. A superficial understanding of Christianity rejects it, and sin flees from Christ as does a criminal from the judge. Superficial and sinful Christians were as often enraged and infuriated with Christianity as were the pagans. The superficial and culpable find it is more comfortable for them to bathe in the shallow puddle of human thoughts than in the perilous depths of Christ. For those who sincerely follow Christ, He constantly calls them to a greater and greater depth, as He once said to the Apostle Peter: Launch out into the deep (Luke 5: 4). St. Mark the Ascetic writes that the Law of God is understood in accordance with the fulfillment of the commandments of God: “Ignorance compels a person to speak in opposition to that which is beneficial, and insolence multiplies vice.”
Launch out into the deep. From the shallow water along the shore, our Lord spoke to the people who were less enlightened in the mysteries of God’s Kingdom, but he summoned the apostles out into the deep. There is less danger in the shallow waters, but the catch is also smaller. In the shallows there are snakes, frogs and other small repulsive water creatures; that is all the danger. In shallow waters there are only small fish; that is the entire catch. But in the greater depths, the danger is also greater. There you have large sea creatures and great storms; that is the danger. But there are also much larger and better fish in enormous quantity; that is the catch. O enlightened one, come therefore into the deep! Launch out into the deep, mysterious sea of life, but do not proceed without Christ in your boat. By no means. You might spend the entire night of your life not catching anything, as Peter said: We have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing (Luke 5: 5). Not only that, but you could face far worse if Christ is not in your boat. Perhaps the winds will carry you away and cast you into an abyss. Perhaps the monstrous and enormous beasts of the sea will consume you.
(continued from last night on ‘launch out’)
The winds, O enlightened one, are your own passions which accompany you unavoidably if you set out into the deep without Christ. The enormous and monstrous beasts of the sea are demons, who can destroy you in the blink of an eye as they destroyed the herd of two thousand swine. However, if you are going out with Christ into the deep, do not be afraid of anything, but go joyfully and courageously joined to Christ. You will lay hold of the best catch, and you will fill both boats with it— the physical and the spiritual. You will snare the best catch, O dedicated one, and you will arrive on shore without any dangers, on the shore of the Kingdom of Christ. Nowhere without Christ! Neither in shallow places nor in the deep. In the shallow places you will become vexed by hunger and by many minor annoyances, but in the deep a greater evil will befall you.