Summary: A sermon about breaking down barriers and living more simple lives in order to make disciples of Christ.
“Jesus Goes to Vegas”
By: Rev. Ken Sauer, Pastor of Grace United Methodist Church, Soddy Daisy, TN www.graceumcsd.org
In their book Justice in the Burbs: Being the Hands of Jesus Wherever You Live Will and Lisa Samson write: “The suburbs seem particularly designed to avoid facing the bigger issues of life.
It almost feels as if these communities were designed to avoid interruption by anything unpleasant or uncomfortable.
Planned developments have ways of controlling who comes near.
And electronic garage door openers seal the deal…
…The burbs are safe, but they are safe at the price of keeping out questions of need, questions of poverty, questions of insufficiency.
In fact, they are designed to maintain an illusion of a particular life, the American dream, where no one is needy, where there is a chicken in every pot and a car in every garage (and a boat, and those tools we never use, and a riding lawn mower…).
Let’s face it—we don’t want to be bothered by those in need…
…whole industries exist to create pleasurable experiences that divert us from the real pain of life…”
And as we see in our Gospel Lesson for this morning the people of Jesus’ day had created ways to divert themselves from the real pain in life as well.
In verse 4, we are told that Jesus “had to go through Samaria.”
Jesus could have avoided Samaria.
Most Jews, such as Himself did just that.
They were able to easily avoid that place by crossing the Jordan and traveling on the east side.
But Jesus “had to go through Samaria.”
Could it be that Jesus had to go through Samaria because the Love of God compelled Him to do just that?
Could it be that Jesus had to go to Samaria because, as the exact representation of God on this earth, Jesus could not do otherwise?
You see, the Jews and the Samaritans didn’t get along very well.
The Samaritans were a mixed race of people, and the Jews—keeping with their purity system considered Samaritans impure.
The Samaritans, on the other hand, refused to accept the Temple of Jerusalem as their Temple.
They helped the kings of Syria in the wars against the Jews, and around the time Jesus was born, some Samaritans profaned the Temple in Jerusalem by leaving human bones in the atriums.
After that, the Samaritans were prohibited from entering the Temple.
There were a number of other religious differences between the Jews and Samaritans.
And so there were many barriers which were set up between the two groups.
They basically hated one another.
Thus, Jesus “had to go through Samaria.”
Because Jesus faced the pain of the real world head on…Just as we, as Christ’s followers must face the pain of the real world head on!
Just imagine if I were to be the spiritual guide on a trip to say…
…Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church in Orange County, California…
…the American version of the Holy Land.
So I get a bunch of people together and we head out on our way, but as we enter Nevada I decide that I just have to stop in Vegas in order to talk with the working girls at the Kit Kat Club.
And after we get talking for a bit, I decide we need to stay there for a few days…cause these ladies really are hungry and ready to meet Christ!
Wouldn’t you think that some of the folks who had come along with me on our trip to the Holy Land would be on their cell phones talking with their spouses and with their friends saying, “This wasn’t my idea!”?
That’s sort of like the situation we’re looking at in our Gospel Lesson this morning.
There are many, many taboos or barriers and Jesus breaks them all!!!
Right off the bat, Jesus sits down by a well that—by societies’ standards—He has no business being at!!!
Then a woman comes to the well and Jesus speaks to this woman—which Jesus has no business doing!!!
For one thing, she’s was a woman, and in Jesus’ day it was terribly frowned upon for a man to make conversation with a woman.
I mean, there was a serious debate raging as to whether or not women even had souls!
For another thing, this woman was a hated Samaritan.
She was unclean.
Jews didn’t even give Samaritans the time of day!
Also, this Samaritan woman was a woman with a questionable lifestyle.
Her first thought may have been that Jesus was trying to proposition her.
After-all wasn’t that the only reason men had ever bothered to speak to her before?
I heard of a church in Texas where every Friday night people of the church pay the “call girls” just so they can talk to them about Jesus.