By The Way, What Time Is It, Anyway?

Have you ever been misunderstood, misrepresented or misquoted in ministry? If you have been involved in ministry for any length of time, the answer is an emphatic YES! Be encouraged: your service in ministry reflects the earthly ministry of Jesus Christ. He was misunderstood at almost every level: the religious leaders who opposed Him misunderstood Him; the common folk of everyday life misunderstood Him; and even those closest to Him, His disciples, misunderstood His words and works. But Jesus understood His mission and purpose, and it is that reality that sustained Him daily.

For example, in John 3, when Nicodemus came to Jesus by night to gain His counsel and inquire of His ministry, he completely misunderstood as Jesus discussed with him the necessity of being “born again.” Nicodemus mistakenly thought that Jesus was referring to a second physical birth when Jesus was sharing the spiritual truth of “being born from above.”

Likewise, the woman of Sychar—or, as John 4 declares, the woman at the well—misunderstood Jesus as He engaged her in conversation asking for a drink of water. She, too, misunderstood Jesus’ spiritual reference to eternal life that comes from the “Living Water” that only Christ supplies.

But most startling is the fact that even those closest to Him, His disciples, misunderstood His comments related to physical food when He said, “I have meat that you know not of.” They inquired, “Has someone else given Him something to eat?” They failed to understand that Jesus was speaking in spiritual terms as to the spiritual nourishment that sustains those who are obedient to fulfilling the revealed will of God. Jesus stated, “My meat (spiritual nourishment, that which sustains me) is to do the will of the Father and accomplish the work that He has called me to.” Just as Jesus was reinvigorated and revived by His obedience to share the necessity of being born again with Nicodemus and the woman, so will we as we preach, teach and give witness of the eternal life that comes in responding to the message of the Gospel.

The woman at the well did not forget her water pot, as some suppose. She was planning to return after she had shared with the “men” of her past life about Jesus and what He had said. As she returned, it seems evident by Jesus’ words that her witness had been received, for there were some who were returning with her wearing their summer robes of white. Surely the disciples did not misunderstand the words of Jesus as He declared, “Look, the fields are white unto harvest, is there a need to wait or should you not reap where another has sown.”

Isn’t it time that we, as the church, stop worrying about being misunderstood, misrepresented or misquoted and get busy in the harvest by sharing the good news of the Gospel? By the way, what time is it, anyway?

Denny Autrey

Denny Autrey

Dean of the J. Dalton Havard School for Theological Studies and Professor of Pastoral Ministries at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
Dr. Autrey is the Dean of the J. Dalton Havard School for Theological Studies (Houston) and is a Professor of Pastoral Ministries in the School of Theology. He is married to Angela and has three daughters - Amber, Julie, and Haley.
Twitter: @DennySwbt
Denny Autrey

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