Summary: A sermon about taking the love of Christ into the world.
"Jesus Goes To Vegas"
By: Ken Sauer, Pastor of East Ridge United Methodist Church, Chattanooga, TN www.eastridgeumc.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.”
They continue: “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—many folks 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 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?
Newspapers and magazines sometimes run a feature entitled: “What is Wrong with this Picture?”
They don’t mean it’s a bad photo.
They mean that someone in the picture is doing something so unusual that it seems crazy!
Like, trying to fix a computer with a sledgehammer!
On my cell phone, I am connected to the AP News Service.
One of the places they have on their site is called “Wacky News.”
I looked at it the other day.
One headline read, “One armed man applauds the kindness of Strangers.”
Another alleged, “Army vehicle has gone missing after being Painted with Camouflage.”
Now, the picture or news item we see in our Scripture passage for this morning may not look odd to us, but it would have looked “wacky” to the people of Jesus’ day.
Not only did Jews not associate with Samaritans; men did not talk to women in public!!!
They didn’t give them the time of day!
At that time, there was a saying that “It is a waste of time to speak to a woman,” and there was serious debate as to whether or not a woman even had a soul!!!
We see how shocked the disciples were to come back and find Jesus sitting and talking to a woman!
On top of all this, the woman had been ostracized by her own people because she had a “questionable character.”
Just imagine if I were to be the spiritual guide on a trip to say…
…Rick Warren’s Saddleback Church in Orange County, California…
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 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!!!
What a thing for the gossip magazines or Wacky News!
But Jesus doesn’t worry about that kind of stuff.
When Jesus looks at you, me, and anyone—Jesus sees a human being…
…and Jesus loves human beings!...
…no matter who we are, no matter where we are, no matter what we have done!!!
What a great news item this really and truly is: Here was the Son of God, tired and weary and thirsty.
Here was the holiest of men, listening with understanding to a sad story.
Here was Jesus breaking through the barriers of nationality and orthodox Jewish custom.
Here is the beginning of the universality of the Gospel; here is God so loving the world, not in theory, but in practice!!!
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.