2/2/14 Listening as the Gospel
Listening as the Gospel John 4:4-26
4?Now he had to go through Samaria.?5?So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph.?6?Jacob?s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon.7?When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her,??Will you give me a drink??8?(His disciples had gone into the town?to buy food.)9?The Samaritan woman said to him, ?You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan?woman. How can you ask me for a drink?? (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.) 10?Jesus answered her,??If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.? 11??Sir,? the woman said, ?you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water??12?Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well?and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?? 13?Jesus answered,??Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again,?14?but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst.?Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water?welling up to eternal life.? 15?The woman said to him, ?Sir, give me this water so that I won?t get thirsty?and have to keep coming here to draw water.? 16?He told her,??Go, call your husband and come back.? 17?she replied. You are right when you say you have no husband.?18?The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.? 19??Sir,? the woman said, ?I can see that you are a prophet.?20?Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain,?but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.? 21??Woman,??Jesus replied,??believe me, a time is coming?when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.?22?You Samaritans worship what you do not know;we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews.?23?Yet a time is coming and has now come?when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit?and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.?24?God is spirit,?and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.? 25?The woman said, ?I know that Messiah? (called Christ)??is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.? 26?Then Jesus declared,??I, the one speaking to you?I am he.?
We think four times faster than a person talks.? So it is easy to think we are good listeners when we are really looking around, or texting, or watching TV.? Our theme this year is fellowship, and fellowship requires listening and presence.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt once got tired of the long receiving lines full of people and felt no one listened to him.? So he tried an experiment.? He told each person in the line, ?I murdered my grandmother this morning.?? Most responded with things like, ?Fine. Hope you are.?? Or, ?Marvelous!? Keep up the good work.? God bless you.?? But the last guy in line understood- the ambassador to Boliva.? He said, ?Well sir, I?m sure she had it coming!?? Jesus was the ultimate listener.?? He models how God the father listens to us, and how we ought to listen in this great lived story.? It also is a great model for listening in order to communicate the love and hope of God to others in need.
Jesus sat down at the well.? But he could have in our day been sitting at the airport or on a plane, or working out at the gym, or eating at the restaurant, or waiting in line at the mall.? He was in a strange place with a stranger who was very different.?? Yet what we see here is how he touched her and reached out to her.?????? Jesus was teaching his disciples how to love people and how to reach out to them.?? This was an important event that showed the Christian message of hope was not just for men but also for women; not just for Jews but also for non-Jews; not just for good decent people but also for those who had fallen into the problems of life.? It is important for all of us today.
I. HE ASKED FOR HELP ? WHEN SHE NEEDED HELP ?One of the best way to get to know your neighbors is to ask for help or see a need and ask if you can help.? Help is a way of establishing a relationship.? Asking to shovel snow or for a cup of sugar breaks a barrier
A. GOD SEEKS OUR HELP- ??So Jesus, in seeking to establish a relationship and also simply seeking to meet his own physical needs- asked her for help.?? The Almighty seeks us the un-mighty- as the Father sought the Prodigal Son.? The One who is self-sufficient- in love- makes Himself vulnerable to ask for our help.? Ironically, we do not see here if the lady actually gave him water.
God has no hands but our hands.? We are His body.? He makes His church vulnerable to our ability to believe in Him.? Just as He made Himself vulnerable to our mocking and crucifixion- so He makes His church vulnerable to the world?s attacks.? Just as He made His disciples and Himself vulnerable to Judas betrayal and Peter?s denial- so He makes Himself vulnerable to our faithlessness, disobedience and apostasy.? ?So Jesus asked the woman for a drink.? In a similar way, Jesus asks us to step up and be committed to Him.? The beautiful thing is the woman responded and was changed forever.? It remains to be seen whether we will respond, just sit there nearby, or run away in fright or rebellion.
B. WE NEED GOD?S HELP- Ironically, Jesus knew he had more to offer than what the woman offered him.? It is the same today.? It is almost human nature to start to think that we are doing God a favor by responding to Him.? But in reality- as Jesus said (in John 15) apart from Him we can do nothing. ?How the greatest and most important things of this moment fade away into memory with time.? I know I watched last year?s Super Bowl, but I remember little about it.? ?But to accomplish something great- we need God to help us.
II. HE LISTENED TO THE HEART OF THE MATTER- At least three times the woman tried to avoid talking about her heart.? Three times Jesus called her back going deeper and deeper- to the most vulnerable core of her soul.? She kept trying to put up barricades to redirect Jesus from her heart.? But Jesus was focused on the deep parts.
1) You can?t talk to me- She tried to put him off by saying he was a man- she a woman; He was a Jew she a Samaritan- and an implicit one was she was a sinner and he was a saint.? God can?t possibly talk to me- I am beyond hearing.? But usually the only way Jesus cannot talk is if we refuse to listen.? The only unforgivable sin in the Bible is blasphemy of the Holy Spirit- which is basically a refusal to listen to the Spirit of God- hardening our ears and our hearts. Truth is God cares for each one of us as He cared for this woman at the well.? God comes to us- when we are alone and seeks our help in order that we may find His great help.
2) It is impossible for you to help me- You have nothing to get this living water with.? In other words- I don?t see how you can help me.?? In our culture today this especially applies- we say I don?t believe God can help me- I am too far gone, or my situation is too complex, or it would be too hard for even Almighty God to help.?? But we are short-sighted.? Jesus didn?t need a ladle to get this living water.? He finds a way to help us- we must believe that He is able to help.? Hebrews says, ?If anyone comes to God they must believe that He is and that He is able to reward those He loves.?
3) Our beliefs are different- in our day it may be ?Well I?m Baptist so I can?t listen to a Presbyterian.?? She tried to say- we worship here you worship in Jerusalem so how can you tell me anything?? God is God of all- no matter what the denomination.? Do not harden your heart to God because of some artificial line of a denomination.
Jesus had a gift of listening.? This should inspire us to work hard at being good listeners.? Now there is a time and place for every conversation- maybe the middle of the Super Bowl is not a great time to bring up a touchy subject.? But it is also true that some times when we think it is a bad time- God speaks to us.? Maybe God will speak to you in communion today?
III. HE REACHED OUT TO HER WITH SPIRIT AND TRUTH
Jesus is always concerned about our hearts.? In the end, it is the soul that will outlast all our physical worries.
SPIRIT- God is to be worshipped not with the lips, not with the surface, not simply in terms of physical works or showy things.? In many ways, Jesus? main message was get your soul right with God.? He said this in many ways- condemning the showy hypocrites who found a way to skirt the Law; by saying we must be born from above- born again.? By saying many times- these people honor me with t heir lips but their hearts are far from me.? The woman talked about where we worship- Jesus said it is not a matter of place but that we worship from our hearts.? This must not be isolated from Jesus? other words that we are to worship as a group- gathering in His name (Mt. 18:20).
TRUTH- Jesus is not concerned with spin, or appearance as we are.? Makeup, plastics, fake show- are not his thing.? It is not what feels good that matters.? It is not the latest trend, fad, fashion, or vote of popularity that counts for Jesus.? The cross would not have occurred if Jesus was just trying to tickle the ears of people and go along with the crowd. ??There is truth. Not just perspective.? In a post-modern world many say there is no such thing as truth only a matter of perspective.? For Christ, life is real with real consequences.? Life is not a dream or a drunk or a game, or an illusion.? Life is reality- and the ultimate reality is not our pain or comfort- it is not just about us- ?but the Creator who made all of reality.? We find the ground of our being- the truth of our existence in Him.
This passage teaches us that Jesus is the best listener.? He wants to listen to us and wants us to listen in return.? This poor woman probably had very few people listen to her.? But what a friend we have in Jesus all are sins and griefs to share.? He shows us God is a God of love by listening.? Communion in many ways is about? being still before God and listening.? It is sitting at the edge of the water saying, ?I am thirsty for the living water.?? It is sitting at the edge of the table saying, ?I need the bread of life.?? Jesus says, listen to me and come to me and you will find your satisfaction, your rest. ?He who has an ear, let them hear.