Summary: Combining Exodus 17:1-7 with Matthew 21:23-32 to preach a sermon on hope and the need for evangelism.
“Getting Water Out of a Rock”
In our Old Testament Lesson, that Sherry read earlier, we see that the people, the Israelites in the desert, are thirsty. They are standing around Moses and they are demanding water.
Nothing had changed. The people had been fed, and they had been traveling in the wilderness, as God had commanded.
They had been slaves in Egypt, now they were free; God had performed many miracles for them from the parting of the Red Sea to feeding them with Quail and Manna, still they complained incessantly, this time about water.
This was not Moses’ first, nor last moment of frustration…
…so he did a little complaining of his own to God: “What am I to do with these people? They are almost ready to stone me.”
We are told that the people were testing the Lord saying: “Is the Lord among us or not?”
And the answer comes from a hopeless barren rock.
For out of this hopeless barren rock God produces what the people need in order to live—cool, refreshing, life-saving water!!!
Out of the rock comes life.
Out of the rock comes proof that the Lord is, indeed, among His people.
God could bring water from a rock, and thereby, bring life out of death.
Was not Christ’s body entombed in a cave behind a great rock?
And as we are told in Mark’s Gospel, on the Day of the Resurrection of Jesus the two Marys were on there way to the tomb in order to anoint Jesus’
body when they asked each other: “Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?”
“But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away.”
Jesus was no longer in the tomb.
Out from behind the huge rock, God had brought forth life—the Life which is necessary for the salvation of us all!!!
Some have said that the threshold of the Christian faith is at that point where the thirsty soul stands squarely in front of the hopeless barren rock, the seemingly impossible—and finds that, through Christ, there is no such thing in life as an impossible situation.
We see this as well in our Gospel Lesson.
Jesus, speaking to the chief priests and elders of the people, says directly: “I tell you the truth, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you.”
Who would have imagined such a thing as this?
Weren’t the tax collectors and prostitutes a lot like hopeless, barren rocks?
Who would ever expect any life to spring forth in them?
Tax collectors and prostitutes were two very despised groups of people in Jesus’ day.
Tax collectors were hated agents of an oppressive foreign government, who were amassing private fortunes at the people’s expense.
They were considered to be so untrustworthy that they weren’t even allowed to testify in a court of law.
And prostitutes were the prime example of immorality.
The religious authorities, especially, looked down on these groups and ostracized them from the community.
Yet Jesus said, because of their faith, they were entering God’s Kingdom ahead of the ‘respectable’ religious leaders who condemned them.
Could there be a connection between Moses striking the hopeless barren rock and God bringing forth the life saving water, and hardened folks such as tax collectors and prostitutes being struck by the Spirit of God, then believing and repenting, and thus being made new?
I think the connection is that God commanded Moses to strike the rock, Moses obeyed and the water came…
…and God is commanding us to strike the lost with the Gospel of Christ…
…and if we obey, God will bring forth new life in the form of salvation!
We will see God perform miracles right before our eyes, miracles we never could have dreamed of.
We may very well look about our world and see the hopelessness of it all…
…war, drugs, poverty, racism, immorality, apathy…
We may feel like Ezekiel, who in the middle of a valley saw nothing but dry bones, but the Word of the Lord said to the bones: “I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life.”
Yes, if God can bring forth water from a rock…
…if God can put flesh on dry bones and breath in them the breath of life…
…if God can do all these things, there certainly is no such thing in life as an impossible situation!!!
There is no such thing as a person who is beyond the reach of God’s saving grace, no matter who they are…
…no matter where they are on life’s highway!
The world may look at the ostracized, the outcaste, the marginalized, the delinquent and proclaim: “What can we hope to get out of these people…Nothing!!!”