By Pastor Glenn Pease
The unexpected is the source of so much of the joy of life.
Our three year old granddaughter, Jennifer, was praying at the table a couple of weeks ago.
I noticed she was going faster than usual, and she came to the end saying, "In Jesus name, amen."
Then she shouted, "I win."
It was so unexpected that we were all shocked into laughter, and we realized at that point, she and Jason had a thing going as to who could finish first.
It was a whole new concept to me, the concept of competitive prayer.
We expected the commonplace, and we were surprised by the unexpected.
God does this a lot, as you study His handiwork.
God has so designed natural life that it can only exist by means of the exceptional and the unexpected.
It is a law of nature that as a liquid cools its density increases, and it gets heavier.
But is water followed this law, the ice that formed on the top of lakes would sink to the bottom, and eventually the whole lake would be solid ice.
But fortunately, water is an exception to this law.
It is expands when it freezes, and ice becomes lighter than water, and it floats.
If God had not made water an exception, life would be greatly limited on this planet, and may have been impossible.
It is surprising how many exceptions are necessary for life on earth.
If the law of gravity had no exceptions, the heavy gas would be at the bottom, and the lighter gas at the top.
This would mean the whole earth would be under a layer of carbon dioxide, and this would make life as we know it impossible.
But the law of gravity is defied by the law of diffusion of gases, and so oxygen can be available for all of life on the surface of the earth.
God is not a legalist, even in His laws for governing the universe.
He has variety and flexibility, and unique unexpected exceptions.
Beware of locking God in and saying, He always does this, or never does that.
God is the God of surprises, and the God of the unexpected.
Those who study any aspect of His creation soon learn this, and it is true in the study of His Word as well.
No where is this more evident than in John chapter 4, where we see the encounter of Jesus with the woman at the well.
It is literally loaded with exceptions and surprises.
Let's look at some of them to get the flavor of the whole passage.
1. Ordinarily you run to success, but this text tells us Jesus had to flee from it.
His disciples were baptizing more people than John the Baptist.
His movement was growing like wildfire, and so he packed up and left.
A very unexpected reaction to success, but he had to escape the conflict this was going to produce with the Pharisees.
His time was not yet, and so he fled success.
2. Also unusual is the verse which tells us Jesus did not baptize people.
John did, but Jesus let His disciples do the baptizing.
As far as we know, Jesus never baptized anyone, and that is surprising.
3. Jesus took the route to Galilee that was the unusual route.
Most Jews went around Samaria because of the hostility of these two peoples.
Jesus is the exception, and He takes the unexpected way, right through this alien territory.
4. His disciples go into town to buy food, which is a surprise, because, as the woman at the well says in verse 9, the Jews do not associate with the Samaritans.
Here is another exception.
The woman of Samaria is one surprise after another.
She is the only woman in the Bible, that we know of, who had five husbands, and the only one we know of who was living with a man out of wedlock.
This may not be uncommon in our day, but it was the unusual and unexpected than.
Jesus only took one trip through Samaria, and He runs into the only woman with her particular record.
It was a surprise that anybody would be at the well at high noon.
This is the hottest part of the day.
Most would come in the cool of the morning or evening, but she was there at the unexpected time.
7. It was unexpected that a rabbi would talk to any woman in public.
But here we are surprised, for Jesus not only talks with her, He shares with her the deepest insights into the nature of God.
He gives her the clearest revelation of who He is, as the Messiah.
You would expect a teacher of the caliber of Jesus to reveal His most profound truths to the highest leaders of the land, or at least some leaders in some formal setting.
But Jesus is full of surprises, and He gives this lowly nobody insights of the greatest depth.
There is no rule to cover this.
This is just another great exception.
8. Finally, you do not expect a woman to be one of the first successful witnesses, but her testimony led crowds of Samaritans to believe in Jesus, and become His disciples.
Jesus did not chose any woman to be one of the twelve, but long before any of the twelve were effective evangelists, this woman led a multitude to Jesus.
This whole account is an exception to the rule.
When Jesus sent out His twelve, we read that He gave them these instructions in Matt.
10:5-6, "Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans.
Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel."
Here He is doing the very thing He forbids them to do, and by so doing, He has the biggest harvest of fruit He ever had in His ministry.
The bottom line of all this is, expect the unexpected when you follow Jesus.
The disciples of Jesus never expected to see Him talking with a woman.
Verse 27 implies they were embarrassed by the whole scene.
It was a surprise, and so unexpected, and they could not handle this exceptional situation.
The text tells us, "No one asked what do you want, or why are you talking with her?" Their minds were full of questions, but they were shocked into silence, and did not know how to deal with this unique situations.
They were not expecting the unexpected, nor were they open to the unusual and exceptional.
This is one of the basic principles of evangelism, and they had to learn it, and we have to learn it, to be effective tools for Christ.
After all, if Jesus sent His church into all the world to make disciples, then He expects His church to be ready for an infinite variety of possibilities.
My father use to say, "It doesn't take all kinds to make a world, but we've got them anyway."
We have to face reality and recognize, the world we are trying to reach is full of diversity, variety, and the unusual.
If you do not expect the unexpected, you will be closed to both God and the world He wants you to reach.
Part of what it means to walk in the spirit is to expect the unexpected.
Jesus expected prostitutes, tax collectors, and people that nobody else ever dreamed of reaching, to respond to the Gospel, and become a part of the kingdom of God.
Jesus expected that this Samaritan woman would respond to His acceptance, and that the kingdom of God would be extended into territory that no Jew would ever even try to reach.
In Acts 1:8 we read that Jesus said to His Apostles, "You will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth."
Do you think the Apostles would have taken that serious, that they were to witness in Samaria, unless they had seen with their own eyes the results of this encounter with the woman of Samaria?
They had to be eye witnesses of this exceptional, and totally unexpected event, or they never would have been able to go to Samaria with any expectation at all.
The result is, in Acts 8 we read that Philip had a marvelous ministry in Samaria.
And Peter and John preached the Gospel in many Samaritan villages.
My point is, this never would have happened, and all the evangelism that took place, and all the lives of the Samaritans changed forever, never would have happened had Jesus not prepared the way by helping His disciples learn to expect the unexpected.
They were slow learners, for He taught them to expect the cross and resurrection too, but they were not open to it, and had to learn the hard way.
One of the main reasons why many people are not evangelized is because of Christians who have never learned to expect the unexpected.
Almost every pastor who has been in the ministry any length of time could tell a story similar to that of Dr. Dino Pedrone, who pastored in Pennsylvania.
A woman came to him for counseling, and in the course of their conversation he asked her about her husband.
She said he was a good man, but he was not a Christian.
When the pastor asked if he could come and talk to him about the Lord, she said it wouldn't do any good, for he will never become a Christian.
The next Saturday he went to see the husband.
He discovered that though he was hard and indifferent to spiritual things in relation to his wife, he was hungry to know God.
The wife was shocked when her husband opened his heart to Christ.
Soon he was baptized and a part of the church.
The next time this wife came for counseling, he asked about her children.
She told him she had a son who was a rebel, and was always in trouble.
He asked if anybody had ever talked to him about the Lord.
She said that she knew her son would never trust in Christ.
The next Tuesday some people from the church called on the son, and her son received Christ.
After that she came to the pastor with a list of her relatives.
Not all of them responded to the Gospel, but some did, because she had finally learned to expect the unexpected.
Until we learn this basic principle, we determine what God will, or will not do, and we never even try that which seems unusual, for we do not give the exceptional a chance to happen.
This is what quenching the spirit is all about.