St Paul's UMC
March 12, 2023
  • Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah
  • I Sing Praises
  • Doxology
      • John 4:5–42GNB

  • Here I am, Lord
  • Krista and I went to see the movie “Jesus Revolution” recently - which is centered around the spiritual revival that occurred in the 60’s and early 70’s among the youth of that generation - many of them hippies.
    Based on true events, watching the film we saw the mighty work of God that happened when the pastor of Calvary Chapel, an aging congregation in decline welcomed in a bunch a bare-footed, radically different, Jesus loving hippies into his church. The new additions to the congregation resulted in some conflict - some church members left - but because of the hospitality shown and the conviction that God loves all people - Calvary Chapel became one of the major centers of revival.
    There is a scene early on when Pastor Chuck Smith of Calvary Chapel (played by Kelsey Grammar) meets face to face for the first time with Lonnie Frisbee, the charismatic Jesus-looking hippie preacher gifted in winning over young people for Christ (played by Jonathan Roumie). Pastor Chuck’s view of the hippy culture matched that of many adults at that time. It was all about getting high and rejecting social and moral norms. He had passed judgment because he did not understand them, but as he listened to Lonnie, his view changed.
    Lonnie tells him “There is an entire generation right now searching for God. I know we must seem a little strange. But if you look a little deeper, if you look with love, you’ll see a bunch of kids that are searching for all the right things, just in all the wrong places.”
    Lonnie Frisbee goes on to describes “his people” as “sheep without a shepherd, chasing hard after lies.”
    There is much I liked about the film, not the least of which is that they did not sugarcoat the struggles and controversies surrounding Lonnie and Chuck as this movement grew.
    I also find it interesting that this film is released at a time when signs of revival are beginning to appear in our own culture - especially among the youth.
    There are so many people thirsty for something real, authentic and greater than what they can find in the world - a spiritual thirst that can only be satisfied by God. Why else would tens of thousands descend upon Asbury University a few weeks ago?
    What a time to be a witness to the love and acceptance of Jesus!
    How is the church to minister to this thirsty generation and give them the water they need?
    I believe today’s gospel passage can help us in this regard.
    Here we find Jesus and his disciples traveling through Samaria, a territory of people who, although of a similar bloodline as the Jews, were in fact viewed with disdain. Samaritans and Jews couldn’t stand one another.
    Jesus arrives at the well, the disciples are not with him - they had gone into the city of Sychar to get supplies - and he is tired. It is noon - it is hot, sun is blazing, no one is at the well. This is not the time of day for retrieving water. If you have ever seen images of women in poorer countries carrying water jars on their head - you can imagine the difficulty of that chore. It is hard labor and it is the kind of work you do in the early morning or later afternoon hours when it is cooler outside and typically, the women come in groups so they can help one another out and socialize. So when the woman in this story shows up - by herself in the high heat of the day - we already know that there is something going on in her life.
    In order to reach her - Jesus willingly breaks several social taboos.
    As a devout Jewish holy man, which is what Jesus was perceived to be, it would have been taboo for him to be alone with a woman - let alone have a one on one conversation. The risk was too high. What would others think if they saw the two of them together? In fact, we see the response of his own disciples:
    John 4:27 CEB
    Just then, Jesus’ disciples arrived and were shocked that he was talking with a woman. But no one asked, “What do you want?” or “Why are you talking with her?”
    2. Another taboo - as already stated, Jews avoided interactions with Samaritans. Bad blood, bad history. To actually share a cup with one of them - big no-no.
    3. As already implied by her presence at that hour and being by herself, this woman obviously has some kind of reputation that prevents her from acceptance in the broader community.
    Jesus knew all this - but he was not concerned about what others would say, about the judgement of man; the only thing that mattered to him was doing the will of the Father.
    John 5:30 ESV
    “I can do nothing on my own. As I hear, I judge, and my judgment is just, because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me.
    What man-made taboos prevent us from correctly discerning the Father’s will?
    What pre-judgments do we make that get in the way of engaging in dialogue with those who are wandering around as sheep with out a shepherd?
    John 4:9–10 ESV
    The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.”
    The woman’s response to Jesus’ request for water was based on her life experience. In her world, Jews and Samaritans don’t talk and they definitely don’t do favors. She read the current situation - a stranger asking for water - in the context of worldly realities.
    When Jesus responds, he answers as one who not only sees the world as it is, but also as it should be.
    When he speaks of “living water”, he is not speaking of what is obvious in the physical realm. The woman, blind at this point to spiritual realities, hears ‘living water’ and immediately thinks of flowing water. It was a common phrase used at that time to refer to running water - such as a stream or river. That differs from a pool or well which is standing water and can become stagnant.
    When Jesus speaks of living water - water that will quench all who drink from it and they will never be thirsty again - it is obvious that he is not talking about a stream. Jesus - as we read throughout the Gospels - uses everyday objects or realities (running water, salt, light, sheep, wheat, weeds) to illustrate spiritual realities.
    He doesn’t explicitly define it here, but we hear about living water a few chapters later in John 7:38-39
    John 7:38–39 ESV
    Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ ” Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.
    Jesus is talking about new life, not life bound up in sin and separated from God, but new life - filled with the Spirit, full of new understanding, purpose and vision.
    Theologian NT Wright shared the life changing experience of one of his friends in his commentary on this chapter:
    John for Everyone, Part 1: Chapters 1–10 Jesus and the Woman (John 4.16–26)

    A friend of mine described the reaction when he went home, as a young teenager, and announced to his mother that he’d become a Christian.

    Alarmed, she thought he’d joined some kind of cult.

    ‘They’ve brainwashed you!’ she said.

    He was ready with the right answer.

    ‘If you’d seen what was in my brain,’ he replied, ‘you’d realize it needed washing!’

    Of course, he hadn’t been brainwashed. In fact, again and again—and this was certainly the case with my friend—when people bring their lives, their outer lives and inner lives, into the light of Jesus the Messiah, things begin to come clear.

    If anything, it’s our surrounding culture that brainwashes us, persuading us in a thousand subtle ways that the present world is the only one there is. This is seldom argued. Rather, a mood is created in which it seems so much easier to go with the flow. That’s what happens in brainwashing. What the gospel does is to administer a sharp jolt, to shine a bright light, to kick-start the brain, and the moral sensibility, into working properly for the first time.

    Often, when this begins to happen, the reaction is just like it was with the woman of Samaria. Intrigued by Jesus’ offer of ‘living water’, she asks to have some—not realizing that if you want to take Jesus up on his offer of running, pure water, bubbling up inside you, you will have to get rid of the stale, mouldy, stagnant water you’ve been living off all this time. In her case it was her married life—or rather, her unmarried life.

    In the conversations we have with people, especially unbelievers, we should be seeking ways to point toward heavenly realities - not just the stagnant physical realities.
    If we want to offer living water to this generation - We speak as one who not only sees the world as it is, but also as it should be.
    Now returning back to the well, if this woman is going to have her spiritual eyes opened and understand what Jesus is offering - she will need to first encounter Jesus for who he is.
    John 4:16 ESV
    Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.”
    This sets the stage for her awakening to spiritual realities. He will show her that he knows her - that he is no stranger that just happens to be at the well.
    As he shares with her details of her life, she surely begins to sense that this encounter is no coincidence.
    And what a beautiful Savior we serve. Do you hear words of condemnation coming from his mouth in this encounter? That is because there is none.
    He doesn’t shy away from an uncomfortable conversation. In revealing her history of broken relationships - he simply affirms what she said was true.
    John 4:17–18 ESV
    The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.”
    If we want to offer living water to this generation - we need to listen, acknowledge the pain and trauma they carry, and refrain from language that carries shame and condemnation.
    Stunned by the realization that this holy man knows all about her, she does what so many do when the truth of their life is exposed, she diverts attention toward religion. “We Samaritans worship on this mountain - you Jews worship in Jerusalem.”
    Jesus doesn’t get bogged down in religious arguments - he simply points her toward relationship with the Father.
    John 4:23–24 ESV
    But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”
    God desires true worshippers - a people who hunger for spiritual awakening and who pursue truth.
    This is only found one way - the way of Jesus.
    John 4:25–26 ESV
    The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.” Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.”
    If we want to offer living water to this generation - we must present them Christ.
    Not programs, not opportunities to things that make one feel good about themselves, not great music or flashy productions - first and foremost - we must present Christ. We much share his Words, hold onto the truth, and reflect His love for all people.
    Lastly, notice what happens when this woman spiritually awakens to the reality of Christ.
    John 4:28–29 ESV
    So the woman left her water jar and went away into town and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?”
    John 4:39 ESV
    Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me all that I ever did.”
    Revival is contagious! When we reach a few, we can then reach many.
    I believe we are going to experience a time of great awakening. Many before us have planted seeds. Many of you have prayed for God to rescue this generation.
    Let’s take the lessons of this passage and press forward.
    Seek to do the Father’s will by not just focusing on the ways of the world, but on the spiritual realities of what can be. Meet people where they are, listen without condemnation, and present them Christ.
    John 4:38 ESV
    I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.”
    Come Lord Jesus. Amen.
      • John 4:27GNB

      • John 5:30GNB

      • John 4:9–10GNB

      • John 7:38–39GNB

      • John 4:16GNB

      • John 4:17–18GNB

      • John 4:23–24GNB

      • John 4:25–26GNB

      • John 4:28–29GNB

      • John 4:39GNB

      • John 4:38GNB

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