Summary: This is part two in a series dealing with the need for God’s people to break down the barriers that keep us from effectively building up the wall (God’s Kingdom)
Breaking Down Barriers and Building Up The Wall (pt. 2)
Sermon – 27 June 2004
Last week I began a mini series of sorts. The title of the sermon was Breaking Down Barriers and Building Up The Wall; the main text was from John 4 where Jesus has a rather significant encounter with a certain woman of ill repute at Jacob’s well.
It is a remarkable story in that many from this Samaritan town of Sychar come to faith in Jesus through this encounter.
Last week I began dealing with the various barriers that Jesus crossed over and in fact broke down in ministering to this woman. Through this encounter Jesus illustrates the lengths to which we must go in ministering the love of our Lord and the hope of the gospel.
We covered two significant barriers that Jesus broke down in ministering to the Samaritan woman.
1. Geographical Barrier – Jesus broke down a geographical barrier through his crossing into Samaria in a day when Jews avoided Samaritans. They would intentionally circumvent Samaria in traveling form Judea up to Galilee or vice versa. For as the scripture says in John 4:9 For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.
2. Ethnic Barrier – Jesus broke down the ethnic barrier by willfully and intentionally thrusting himself into the circumstances of this woman, in spite of the long held animosities between Jews and Samaritans
Jesus broke down these and at least four more that we will discuss. Jesus did this with purpose and intent that we might follow in his footsteps as we go out into the world.
You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
If the Church of Jesus Christ is ever to attain to her fullest potential she must overcome these barriers through the power of the Holy Spirit.
The unfortunate reality is that many of these barriers not only exist between the church and the world she is trying to reach but – they exist in many ways within the church itself.
Jesus made a ground breaking statement in John 13:34-35…
34 "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."
In addition to these first two barriers (geographical and ethnic) that Jesus tore down and that we must tear down there were more…
1. Cultural Barrier –
Jesus therefore, being wearied from His journey, sat thus by the well. It was about the sixth hour. 7 A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, "Give Me a drink."
Due to the historical background of both Jesus and this Samaritan woman there was the potential for a real clash of cultures here.
Culturally speaking, the Jews and Samaritans both came from backgrounds with strong ideals and beliefs.
Jesus understood this and willingly transcended the cultural barrier that existed between them.
Not only so but as the gospel began to spread from Jerusalem Jesus’ Apostles and Disciples began to do the very same thing…
Then Peter began to speak: "I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism 35 but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right.
Now Peter did not come to this conclusion or to the point of even preaching to the house of Cornelius on his own…
About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray. 10 He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance. 11 He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. 12 It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles of the earth and birds of the air. 13 Then a voice told him, "Get up, Peter. Kill and eat."
14 "Surely not, Lord!" Peter replied. "I have never eaten anything impure or unclean."
15 The voice spoke to him a second time, "Do not call anything impure that God has made clean."
The early disciples did not even realize (although they should have) that the gospel was not only for the Jew but for the Gentiles as well.
He said to [the house of Cornelius]: "You are well aware that it is against our law for a Jew to associate with a Gentile or visit him. But God has shown me that I should not call any man impure or unclean.