Summary: Jesus steps outside of the norm and the result is a woman and town are converted.
Projectionist: Start with “If Jesus Returned Today”
Good questions; important questions. Our mission is to lead people into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ. We really can’t do that, but what we can do is create irresistible environments where people are encouraged and equipped to pursue intimacy with God, community with insiders and influence with outsiders.
If you’ve been in church for any length of time, or you attended church as a child and are just coming back, you are familiar with the story known as The Woman at the Well from John 4.
If you are not familiar with the story, let me summarize it for you quickly. Jesus had to leave Judea and head back to Galilee because the religious leaders had taken note of his gaining popularity and they weren’t happy. Rather than risk a confrontation at that time, Jesus heads north to His home territory.
The normal route for any good Jew was to cross the Jordan, go up through Decapolis, then cross back over into Galilee. No good Jew wanted to go through Samaria. The Jews and Samaritans hated one another. The Samaritans were half-breed Jews, forced to intermarry with gentiles when Assyria captured the Northern Ten Tribes. During that time they developed and expanded upon the Law of Moses, and they were constantly harassing those in Judea. During the time of the Maccabees, they snuck in and desecrated the Temple in Jerusalem, so there was really bad feelings all the way around. Because of that hate it was unsafe for a Jew to try to travel through the area.
That didn’t stop Jesus. He made a bee-line to the town of Sychar in Samaria. His disciples went into town to get food and Jesus had an encounter with a woman no one--not even her own people--wanted to have anything to do with. To most, she was what we would call persona non grata, an unwelcome person. But to Jesus, she was a woman in need of His love and mercy.
They carry on a conversation, and she’s a little hostile at first. After she tries to distract Him using an argument about religious things, He does something that He didn’t to do in all of Israel—He reveals Himself to her as the long-awaited Messiah.
At this point, the disciples return, and they are upset to see Jesus carrying on a conversation with this woman, but they know better than to say anything. The Message Translation catches the unfolding scene well: “Just then his disciples came back. They were shocked. They couldn’t believe he was talking with that kind of a woman. No one said what they were all thinking, but their faces showed it.” (John 4:27, The Message).
Jesus’ followers can’t believe their eyes! No one says anything, but they certainly communicate their disapproval! It is amazing sometimes what we Christians can communicate without ever saying a word, isn’t it?
She rushes off and that’s where we want to pick up this morning. If you have your Bible we are in John 4 beginning at verse 28: “The woman took the hint and left. In her confusion she left her water pot. Back in the village she told the people,” (John 4:28, The Message). She got it. Without saying a word the disciples communicated their disgust at the scene before them. Her reaction is natural, “she took the hint and left.” Unfortunately, most of the time that would have been the end of the story. Not with her. She was impressed by Jesus and she wasn’t going to let his judgmental followers discourage her. “Come see a man who knew all about the things I did, who knows me inside and out. Do you think this could be the Messiah?” (John 4:29, The Message)
Now when she uttered that first phrase, “Come see a man who knew all about the things I did” the people probably thought, “Honey, that’s nothing—everybody knows what you’ve been up to; everybody knows the kind of woman you are! All they have to do is look at you and they know!”
I think it’s the next two phrases that gets their attention, “ . . .who knows me inside and out. Do you think this could be the Messiah?”
Meanwhile, back at the well another scene is unfolding. “In the meantime, the disciples pressed him, ‘Rabbi, eat. Aren’t you going to eat?’ He told them, ‘I have food to eat you know nothing about.’ The disciples were puzzled. ‘Who could have brought him food?’” (John 4:31–33, The Message)
“Jesus said, ‘The food that keeps me going is that I do the will of the One who sent me, finishing the work he started. As you look around right now, wouldn’t you say that in about four months it will be time to harvest? Well, I’m telling you to open your eyes and take a good look at what’s right in front of you. These Samaritan fields are ripe. It’s harvest time!’” (John 4:34–35, The Message).