Summary: This sermon is a study of our worship of God
3rd Sunday of Lent 11
Sin and worship
Charles Swindoll, in his book Growing Deep in the Christian Life, tells the true story of a man who bought fried chicken dinners for himself and his girlfriend to enjoy on a picnic one afternoon. He was in for a surprise because the person behind the counter mistakenly gave him the wrong paper bag. Earlier, the manager had taken the money from the cash registers and placed it in an ordinary bag, hoping to disguise it on his way to the bank. But when the person working the cash register went to give the man his order, he grabbed the bag full of money instead of the bag full of chicken. Swindoll says, “After driving to their picnic site, the two of them sat down to enjoy some chicken. They discovered a whole lot more than chicken — over $800! But he was unusual. He quickly put the money back in the bag. They got back into the car and drove all the way back. Mr. Clean got out, walked in, and became an instant hero. By then, the manager was frantic. The guy with the bag of money looked the manager in the eye and said, ‘I want you to know I came by to get a couple of chicken dinners and wound up with all this money here.’ Well, the manager was thrilled to death. He said, ‘Let me call the newspaper. I’m going have your picture put in the local paper. You’re one of the most honest men I’ve ever heard of.’ To which the man quickly responded, ‘Oh, no. No, no, don’t do that!’ Then he leaned closer and whispered, ‘You see, the woman I’m with is not my wife. She’s, uh, somebody else’s wife.’” Swindoll closes the story by saying, “Harder to find than lost cash is a perfect heart.”
Unfortunately, these stories are all too common in a culture which has lost its moral foundation.
I’d like to introduce you to a woman, who is a lot like us. All of us before we come face to face with our Creator is like this woman. In listening to her story, we discover our own story. As we see her receive something from God. We ourselves learn to receive from God. I want to introduce you to the woman at the well.
She didn’t know she was in need of Christ, she didn’t know she was dying of thirst. She didn’t realize that her life was parched, wilted and dry. She didn’t realize what she was hungering for, or that she was longing for an intimate partner, Jesus, the One who created her. All she knew was a unending sense of dissatisfaction, an unsettledness, an uneasiness. She had five husbands, each one different than the others, each one offering her a different balm or medicine to soothe her itch, to ease her anxiety. But none of them worked out. One maybe left her for another woman, another complained of irreconcilable differences. Still another she left because of the constant bickering. But though the excuses were all different, what was the same was her loneliness. She came to the well alone, in the heat of the day, when it was so hot she knew no one else would be there. She came to draw water from Jacob’s well, which was deep. What she found was the Spring of Living Water, Jacob’s Creator, who touched her in the depths, the part of her heart no one else saw. In fact it was a part of her scarcely known by her herself. Let’s look at how our Lord brought her to that place, the place where He meets us also in the deepest, most tender parts of our hearts, the place most wounded, most unredeemed.
The first thing Christ does is invite us to see Him for Who He IS. We find this in verses 7-10. Jesus sees her as someone who he can receive ministry from. Jesus looks at us in much the same way. Even with her past, when Jesus was tired, he invited her, a woman, a Samaritan woman with whom no good Jew would have any contact, a Samaritan woman with a bad past, to minister to Him.
In verse 9 we see how she responds to Jesus. Because of her past, she saw him as only another Jew, one more person to reject her. We do that as well. We look at our past, all of our past sins, and think that we can’t minister to the Lord, we’ve been disqualified. But Jesus still seeks us out.
Notice Jesus’ response to the woman in verse 10: “If you knew the gift of God...” Jesus basically says, if you knew who I am, you would have asked me for the thing that quenches your thirst, heals your hurts, and binds your wounds. He is saying to the woman, “You don’t know me!”