Summary: People outside of Jesus are like a field ready to be harvested and Jesus and them are dependent on us taking the first steps to reach them
Without apology, I’m standing in front of you this morning to suggest you need to change. It’s not because there’s something about you that I don’t like. It may not even be anything I know about. But I’m telling you that you need to change, and so do I. Being a Christian is all about changing, remember? That’s how we got the theme “Forever Changed” this year.
…but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
And we…are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord…
Our goal in being here this morning is really about positive life change.
We’re in this series “Changed Hearts, Changed Lives” because we need to understand what changes lives. We need to understand how we can help that happen. We need to know where to start. And we need to understand what hinders us. Last time I checked we were in the business of changing lives. Last time I checked, our stated mission was to bring every person to completion in Christ.
These aren’t new or isolated ideas. They’re just well-illustrated by the story in Jn 4.
This is going to be one of those Sundays where you look back and say, “Remember that one Sermon that had 9 points?” because this one does. What will be more important is, do you remember those 9 points and did they do you any good? Let’s go! Here are 9 gentle reminders I find in John 4:
I. People Who Haven’t Accepted Jesus Don’t Picture Themselves Fitting In (vv6-9)
We start with Jesus, heading from the Judean countryside back north toward Galilee because of rising opposition from the Pharisees. John records “it was necessary” for Him to pass through Samaria. Normally a Jew would skip this region. It was worse than Hatfields and McCoys. Jews hated Samaritans. But, for a reason we’re not given, Jesus had to pass through Samaria. Maybe He had to because that was the only way He could reach the Samaritan people at that time!
Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about the sixth hour. When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, "Will you give me a drink?" (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.) 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.)
Here was the deal: typically, a man wouldn’t address a woman in public like this. But 10X more surprising is that a Jew would speak with a Samaritan, or propose to drink from a Samaritan’s cup. When Jesus told the parable of the Good Samaritan, that name Samaritan tells a lot. She wouldn’t be accepted by a Jewish man, and she knew it.
That wasn’t a problem for Jesus. Race isn’t an issue. Social traditions are less important than salvation. Somehow, He had to help this woman past the barriers. The problem wasn’t that she wasn’t welcomed to Jesus. The problem was that she couldn’t picture herself being welcomed by Him.
How many people who haven’t accepted Jesus today have the same barrier? Just about all of them. Ask the average Joe who hasn’t accepted Jesus if he or she would fit in at a church. This woman’s story should help us remember that the average person needs to be helped across some barriers – not even because they really exist, but because they believe they do. At least, that’s the example that Jesus sets for us here.
II. People Who Haven’t Accepted Jesus Respond to Resourceful, Creative Ways to Talk About Spiritual Subjects (vv10-14)
A week and a half ago, I was privileged to attend the funeral of Roy Weece. Roy loved sharing his faith, and that memorial service made it obvious. Roy was good at finding creative ways to speak about Jesus in whatever situation he found himself. Getting on an elevator, when he was asked if he was going up, he’d say, “All the way!” and from there he’d talk about his hope of heaven. Approached at his home by 2 young men who said, “We’re Jehovah’s witnesses,” he said, “Well, how about that! So am I! I’ve been witnessing to and for Jehovah for years! Let’s go talk about it!” Don DeWelt was the same way. When asked, by anyone, “How are you?” Don would say, “Happy on my way to heaven!” From there, Don had an open door to tell people why.
We need to be creative. We need to read situations to see how we can speak about Jesus. I say that, because that’s what Jesus did, over something as simple as a drink of water.