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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Lent 3A John 4:5-42 Come and see

In the summer of 1997 in OKC we went eight weeks without rain. I have never seen such a drought. The last time we mowed our grass was June. It just shriveled and died. We got to a point where the city banned all lawn watering. Then on the news, they warned home owners to water their foundations because they would crack without moisture.
We need water to live. Without it we will do more than crack, we will die. Jesus offered this woman living water, a spring of water gushing up to eternal life. She thought he meant ordinary everyday water, but she would find out that this water was more than she had ever imagined. She would also find out that a typical day at the well turned into the best day of her life.
Just an ordinary day…could anything be more ordinary than going to get water? But so many unordinary things happen. First of all a Jewish man asks her for a drink. Why is that so unusual? Why can’t you just ask for a drink if you are thirsty? Why must all these barriers get in the way?

Jesus using something very ordinary to break down barriers, to call this woman to believe in him.

She thinks he’s a Jew
She judges him based on his ethnic background, his religion. He takes her for what she is. Last week the lectionary talked about Jesus talking to Nicodemus, a ruler, a rich man, a prominent V.I.P. This week the Scripture describes conversation Jesus has with someone almost completely opposite of Nicodemus. A woman, no one would even speak to a woman in public. She is a nobody, of no importance to anyone. She is also a Samaritan, hated by the Jews. If you are from Oklahoma, she is from Texas. If you are from Michigan, she is from Ohio. If you are a white from 1960s Alabama, she is black.
She takes him literally when he offers her living water. She asks him if he’s better than Jacob.
Life is being offering to a Samaritan woman. John wants to show that Jesus did not come to just reach the rich and privileged, although the Gospel is open to them. Jesus offers this eternal life to the outcast. He then tells her to call her husband. But she has no husband. Do you notice that he doesn’t condemn her? He just states the fact of her lifestyle. She realizes he must be a prophet if he knows about her past. It sounds like she lives in Hollywood in today’s time, doesn’t it?

She thinks he’s a prophet
Then she draws him to a conversation about worship.
But he points out that the place doesn’t matter, that it’s the God being worshipped that matters. He draws the focus off of her and points her to God. She knows about the Messiah. He tells her he is the Messiah.

She thinks he’s the Messiah
The disciples come back but they know by now to keep their mouths shut when Jesus is doing something controversial even when he’s talking to a Samaritan woman. The woman leaves. She runs “Come see a man who told me everything I have ever done! He cannot be the Messiah can he?”
WHOA! Do you realize the significance of what happens here? Jesus empowers a beaten down immoral outcast of a woman to be a PREACHER OF the gospel! These men listen to her and follow her leadership to Jesus! And many believed because of her testimony.

She knows he’s the Savior
What is this gift of God? (verse 10)
When is the last time you ran, not walked to someone with only the excitement that Jesus gives and said, “COME WITH ME TO SEE HIM!”
What makes the transformation in this woman’s life possible? What makes the transformation in our lives possible?
GRACE OF GOD provides the life offered by the Savior
What is the grace of God?
We have a hard time understanding GRACE why?
Because in our place and time we don’t understand how anyone can offer a gift with no strings attached. When we receive something we wonder what is expected of us. When you receive a Christmas card you think OH I didn’t send them one.. When you receive a birthday gift you think oh you didn’t get them one….and on and on.
God offers us a free gift: his love. His life. No strings attached: oh but you say God Expects me to do such and such at church. I OWE him.
That is not what grace is about. It’s not about owing. Now you do respond to his grace but you don’t owe him anything. That would make it an obligatory gift and God doesn’t give to us with strings attached.
Let me relate this to the celebration of the LORD’s supper. It’s a feast. When you give a feast it costs money, etc., but you don’t lose anything because you gain so much by eating with the others (fellowship)
Is this why God created us?
Is this what Jesus offers this outcast, this adulterous woman? He offers her a free gift, with a new life thrown in! What changes her? HE DOES. Only an experience with Jesus Christ can truly change you.
Jesus moves from a dialogue about spiritual water to a conversation about spiritual worship. He goes from offering this woman living water to directing her to true worship, pointing away from herself to God. That is where salvation lies. Getting our focus off of ourselves and pointed to God in true worship. This is not worship just every Sunday morning: but every living breathing moment of our lives.
True worship is not “What I get out of it” It’s putting my focus completely on God. As Arleta has reminded the children in this church what prayer is: putting everything else out of your mind.
Jesus directs this woman away from her troubled life to God himself. She trusted him enough to do it. To get a glimpse of this LIFE he offered. She became so excited she had to run and tell.

If you only knew

If you only knew the gift of God
who is talking to you
you would ask me

If you only knew today what life is like fully trusting in the Messiah you wouldn’t refuse him. You would ask him into your life and he would tell you every thing you ever did.

"He knew everything about me he knew where I’d been and what I’d done come with me come with me to see the holy one." from "He knew everything about me" by Candy Hemphill

1 comment:

Kelly said...
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