Summary: Jesus is ready and willing to accept all.
“THE WONDER OF HIS ACCEPTANCE”
You don’t have to travel to Samaria to find those that need cared for & accepted. It’s not necessary to go to an ancient well to find people who need living water. We are surrounded by those who constantly are living “at the end of broken dreams” and are craving belonging and a purpose for living. Part of following in our Lord’s footsteps is to love the unlovely, the lonely, those that might be looked on as outcasts. Jesus did just that. In fact, as you watch His life He seemed to look for those who needed acceptance.. Peter, Andrew, James and John.. Galileans.. looked down upon as uneducated, commoners. Matthew and Zacchaeus, tax collectors.. He was accused by the “religious” of constantly mingling with “sinners.” But Jesus made sure that those who felt unloved, felt His love. And He has told us to do the same. Matt. 5:43-48 - “love your enemies..” The parable of the Good Samaritan in Lk. 10, tells us basically to love those who are hurting no matter their ethnic origin or condition.
We have a daughter in college in Florida. There have been many times in her almost 22 years now that I have been proud of her but maybe none more than the time she was in 3rd grade, and at our Jr. week of Christian camp. There was a girl there named Amanda and it was plain to see from the very 1st day. Amanda was all alone and didn’t have any friends. The counselors would catch her crying, she was from a troubled home. Marlo, unsolicited, took Amanda on as her project. She sat with her at meal times, made sure Amanda was included in her group of friends, she helped her in the cabin and kept encouraging her. It was no coincidence that at the end of the week Marlo was chosen “Camper of the Week,” not because she was really any better than the other kids but because the camp counselors had seen her reach out to this lonely girl. But, over the years I have often wondered..What happened to Amanda when she got home? Was there a Marlo around or did she just go back to her lonely and bleak world where she was not accepted? And as my mind has gone back to that occasion so many years ago, I have also often wondered.. How often have I been like Marlo was that week? Aren’t we all to be looking for the Amanda’s of this world? Paul said- Phil. 2:4, “Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.”
Well, here in John 4 we see Jesus doing just that. Here is a woman who could relate to Amanda and to all who are in need of acceptance. She had been given attention but never a heart; she had been given a bed but never rest; in fact she’d had 5 beds with five different men and her current relationship probably wasn’t all that satisfying. Yet deep in her heart, as in all us, she longed for true care, true acceptance. And then she meets someone who is so genuinely interested in her life and she discovers lasting acceptance - lavish love, living water.
We couldn’t put 42 verses in the bulletin. So, I hope you have your Bibles open and will open them to the fourth book in the New Testament, John 4. My prayer is that you will be encouraged and motivated to do the things that Jesus did for this woman, for the “Amandas” that God puts in your path. And.. if you feel like an “Amanda” that you will see, in Jesus, someone who truly cares for you.
I. JESUS REMOVED THE BARRIERS:
The first thing that Jesus did for this woman is to remove the barriers. I think this woman would be to most of us, because of her lifestyle and her background, unlikely to be interested in anything spiritual. Jesus saw past her problems and to her true need. But before He could reach her with the message of true acceptance & Life He had to remove some of the walls that were between them.
(1) He removed the geographical barrier. Vs:2 tells us that after Jesus learned of the Pharisees tendency to look at Jesus and John the Baptist as competitors, Jesus decided that He would travel north to another location to minister. Vs:2 says that “.. he left Judea and went back once more to Galilee.” Now, if you are not familiar with Israel during the time of Christ, Galilee was in the north section and Judea in the South. If you went south to north as the crow flies you would travel through a region of country known as Samaria. There was an intense hatred between the Jews and the Samaritans (we discover why in a moment) and so normally those who made the trip Jesus was about to make made a wide turn to skirt Samaria. This route took the Jewish traveler well out of his way, taking him either to the extreme east or west of Samaria. It reminds me of the times when we go to the Durango area but because of storms, instead of going the more straight route over Red Mountain, we travel to Telluride, over Lizard Head, into Cortez and then down to Durango. But to the Jew, it was worth the extra miles not because of safety reasons or inclimate weather but in order to time from coming in contact with the Samaritans. The late, Grady Nutt, used to tell this story and emphasize that somewhere in their trip Jesus should of taken a right or left and when He went straight, right into Samaria, the disciples must of thought, “He had left His senses.” Can’t you just see the disciples once they got to the well worn trail that would take them around Samaria telling Peter to say to Jesus, “Ah, Lord, don’t know if you ah, are day dreaming or something but you missed the turn back there.” If nothing else, this trip was going to show the disciples that the gospel message was to permeate the entire world, not just the Jewish community. Plus, this incident would always remind them that as followers of Christ, they were to go out of their way to serve the hurting and reach the lost. For this woman, the fact that Jesus was in the village of Sychar in Samaria and was a Jew was certainly enough to arouse her curiosity and to wonder why He had not taken the “Jewish” route and skirted her city. But that was just the first step..