Summary: A sermon about evangelism.
“What is Wrong with this Picture?”
by: Rev. Ken Sauer, Pastor of East Ridge United Methodist Church, Chattanooga, TN
Newspapers and magazines sometimes run a feature entitled: What is Wrong with this Picture?
They don’t mean it’s a bad photo.
They mean that someone in the picture is doing something so unusual that it seems crazy!
Like, trying to fix a computer with a sledgehammer!
On my cell phone, I am connected to the AP News Service.
One of the places they have on their site is called “Wacky News.”
I looked at it the other day.
One headline read, “Firefighter’s forced to wash elephant.”
Another alleged, “Man flings jellyfish at teens at Beach.”
Now, the picture or news item we see in our Scripture passage for tonight may not look odd to us, but it would have looked “wacky” to the people of Jesus’ day.
Not only did Jews not associate with Samaritans; men did not talk to women in public!!!
They didn’t give them the time of day!
At that time, there was a saying that “It is a waste of time to speak to a woman,” and there was serious debate as to whether or not a woman even had a soul!!!
We see how shocked the disciples were to come back and find Jesus sitting and talking to a woman!
On top of all this, the woman had been ostracized by her own people because she had a “questionable character.”
She was a complete loner and an outcaste!
So the caption to “What is Wrong with this Picture” might go something like this: “Jewish Rabbi seen talking with a Samaritan WOMAN of questionable moral character…and He even asks Her for a Drink!!!”
What a thing for the gossip magazines that would have been!
But Jesus doesn’t worry about that kind of stuff.
When Jesus looks at you, me, and anyone—Jesus sees a human being…
…and Jesus loves human beings!...
…no matter who we are, no matter where we are, no matter what we have done!!!
What a great news item this really and truly is: Here was the Son of God, tired and weary and thirsty.
Here was the holiest of men, listening with understanding to a sad story.
Here was Jesus breaking through the barriers of nationality and orthodox Jewish custom.
Here is the beginning of the universality of the Gospel; here is God so loving the world, not in theory, but in practice!!!
So during this conversation, Jesus offers this woman something called, “Living Water.”
What in the world does that mean?
That’s the regular phrase people used in Jesus’ world for what we call ‘running’ water—water in a stream or river, rather than in a pool or in a well…
…water that’s more likely to be fresh and clean than water that’s been standing around getting stagnant.
But of course, Jesus isn’t talking about physical water—whether it’s moving or standing still.
Jesus is referring to the NEW LIFE that Jesus offers to anyone—anyone at all, no matter what their gender, their geography, their racial or moral background.
Jesus comes offering, you and I and the rest of humanity—the one thing we long for—a personal and intimate relationship with the Living God!
And this relationship is so intimate that God actually comes and lives inside of us—quenching us of what our souls thirst for!
The woman said to Jesus, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”
Of course, she had no idea of what Jesus was talking about, but it was a start!
At the heart of this is the fundamental truth that in our human hearts there is a thirst for something that only Jesus Christ can satisfy!
An American writer has a character who is talking to the girl he loves.
She says to him, “On the surface we seem quite different; but deep down we are fundamentally the same.
We are both desperately unhappy about something—and we don’t know what it is.”
Within each of us, there is this nameless unsatisfied longing, this vague discontent, this something lacking, this frustration.
Augustine talks about “our hearts being restless till they find rest in [God].”
Is your heart restless this evening?
Within each of us, there is a thirst that only Jesus Christ can satisfy!
Have you accepted Jesus’ offer of a New Life?
So the conversation continues between Jesus and this woman.
And from the woman’s point of view, the conversation has thrown her into a happy confusion: she seems to think Jesus is some kind of cross between a fortune teller and a Messiah, but at least it causes her to leave her water jar behind, run back to the town and tell other people about Jesus!