Summary: This sermon is about finding fulfillment in the salvation that Jesus Christ offers us as opposed to the mirages that the world offers.
QUENCHING OUR THIRST
Text: John 4:4-42
I once read a newspaper article about how a criminal on the run gave himself up because he was thirsty. The police had apparently surrounded this man so that his options of getting away were no longer possible. The police used wisdom when it came to capturing this outlaw. They offered him a Pepsi. He took them up on their offer and came out of his hiding place. Yes, he got arrested, but he had his thirst quenched.
There are many people in this world who are spiritually thirsty who try to satisfy that thirst with things that will not satisfy it. They settle for what they think is water. Yet, they find out that what they thought was water was nothing more than a mirage. A mirage is something that is misleading because it appears to be one thing and turns out to be something else.
Mirages are common to the desert. One can walk through a desert in the heat of the day and see in the distance something that appears to be water---an oasis. After the journey to that spot, they might get angry or frustrated because what seemed promising has now become deceiving. Life oftentimes offers mirages. Only Jesus can give us the water that satisfies our spiritual thirst.
A TIME SAVING JOURNEY
They say that the shortest distance between two places is a straight line. Jesus had left Judea and departed to Galilee. John 4:4 says that He needed to go through Samaria. If you were to look it up on a map, then you would see that Samaria is about halfway between Judea and Galilee. If you consider that shortest distance between two points is a straight line, then the route makes sense.
Although the journey would save time, the relations between the Jew and Samaritans were not so good. Jews considered Samaritans to be people of mixed blood. Back in the Old Testament, in 722 B.C. the Jews in the area of Samaria had been invaded by the Assyrian army. As a result, some of the Jews who survived intermarried with some of their invaders. It was because of this factor that the Jews considered the Samaritans ritually unclean. The Jews thought of Samaritans as a second rate race. Jesus was taking the shortest route to Judea through Samaria.
Although the journey saved time, there was another purpose for taking this route. What was the purpose? The purpose was that there was missionary work to do there in Samaria. Others would have steered away from Samaria remembering how Jews felt about Samaritans. To Jesus, the gift of salvation was not for the select few but for the whole world: "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him will not perish but shall have everlasting life" (John 3:16). God does not show favoritism because God favors all people.
Go back in your mind to the parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32). There were two sons and the father loved them both. He loved his estranged prodigal son and he also loved his oldest son who stayed home. The lost son was like the lost sheep where the shepherd left the ninety-nine sheep to go and look for the one that was lost (Matthew 18:10-14, Luke 15:1-7). Is it possible that Jesus thought of the people of Samaria like a shepherd would think about a sheep who was lost? The answer is yes, of course, because Jesus is the Good Shepherd (John 10: 11,14, 16).
AN UNLIKELY CONVERT
There are times when we allow cultural barriers to determine how we witness. There was obviously a cultural barrier between the Jews and the Samaritans. Jesus came to tear that barrier down. Consider Galatians 3:28: "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (NKJV). Yes, there were cultural barriers and Jesus always tears those barriers down.
God does not have favorites. Christ came to break down all the barriers that divided men from each other and from God. Sin as at the root of all things that divide us from God and from each other. It is sin that separates. It is God that reconciles and unites. It is the craft of Satan to lie and try to convince people of lies that divide us from God and each other.
There is the story about three people who were received into a church from different walks of life. "Three people came forward one Lord’s Day to be received into the membership of a church in Washington D.C. One was Charles Evan Hughes, who had come to Washington to be Secretary of State of the United States, and one was a poor working woman, and one was a colored man. The pastor of the church said to the congregation, "You will note that the ground is level at the Cross." (Theodore Engstrom. 227 Heart-Reaching Illustrations. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1953, p. 122). Yes it is true, the ground is level at the cross. But, it is also true that there are often times when people forget that the ground is level at the Cross and why.