Come and See - John 4:5-42
I bring you greetings from the Springfield Heigths MC. It is a joy for our family to worship with you this morning. And as a sister congregation we wish you God’s strength, wisdom and compassion as you serve in Christ’s name.
Prayer: Creator God, in whom we live and move and have our being, Thank you for Jesus Christ the Savior of the world. Open our hearts in this time of worship. Speak to us words of truth that spring forth from the fountains of your love. Give us a real thirst for the living waters that you offer and enable us to share that water with others - as Jesus Christ our Lord did. Amen.
“I stock shelves at the local grocery store,” said Jack. “I’m responsible fro the soft-drink aisle. So I’m familiar with the wide variety of soda available to consumers these days.” With that Jack took a deep breath and began to rattle off a list of options that was mind-boggling:
We stock –
· Diet Coke
· Diet Pepsi
· RC Cola
· Diet Rite Cola
· Dr. Pepper
· Diet Dr. Pepper
· Pepsi Free
· Mountain Dew
· Diet Mountain Dew
· Diet 7-Up
· Diet Sprite
· A&W Root Beer
· Diet A&W
· Mountain Dew
· Hires Root Beer
· Mug Root Beer
· Barqs Root Beer
· Diet Slice
· Diet Crush
· Diet Squirt
· Cherry Coke
· Cherry Pepsi
· Canada Dry Ginger Ale
Jack rattled off many more brands of soft drinks. And then he began a second long list of sizes:
“You can get these soft drinks in –
· 12 ounce cans
· 12 ounce six packs
· 12 ounce twelve packs
· 12 ounce twenty four packs
· 1 liter Bottles
· 2 liter bottles
· refundable bottles
· non-refundable bottles
· 1 liter six packs
· 2 liter six packs
Just when everyone was starting to wonder where he was going with this mesmerizing account of his tedious daily restocking duties he delivered the timeless truth:
“I deal with so many types of soft drinks in so many different types of bottles and cans that it can be overwhelming. Sometimes it’s just too much. I don’t want to see any more soft drinks, for they don’t really satisfy anyway. What do I want? I want it to stop. I want someone to say to me, Ho, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you that have no money, come… (Isa. 55:1a).
I don’t know about you, but I can identify with the thirst for pure and simple fresh water expressed by Jack. Sometimes as Christians we feel empty inside and we have very little to share with others who are in need of a drink of living water. How we feel and how we behave towards others depends upon how much or how little of Christ’s living water we have inside ourselves.
If we are overflowing, we will feel joy, have energy, and look forward to each day with enthusiasm. We will radiate warmth, be tolerant, forgiving, understanding, and want to give to others.
On the other hand, if we are empty, which happens occasionally for almost everyone, we will feel and act very differently. We will feel depressed, have little energy, and dread the coming of the next day. We will be unhappy, bitter, complaining, and non-supporting of others. We will have little to share.
When we are empty, we may not feel good when we see another person who is full, and we may try to take some of their water. We may criticize, gossip, or put that person down, thinking this will fill us up. But it doesn't. Or, we may go after material possessions, pleasure, money, and success, thinking that will fill our emptiness. And it may seem to do that for a while, but it's not lasting.
As a young man, Augustine, one of the historical fathers of the church, tried to fill the void in his life by chasing after wine, women, and song. Later he confessed, "Lord, thou hast made us for thyself and our hearts are restless until they rest in thee."
Many of our lives are so busy and hectic. We're busy going places and doing things. It's so easy to be constantly on the go-
going to church
going to meetings
going to help someone
going to children's activities
going to work -
going, going, going.
We are not much different than Jack restocking the shelves in our spiritual life with the same old sodas day after day. And, like the woman at the well we thirst for the living water that God alone can give.
In the first part of John 4, we find a Samaritan woman trudging out to the well - at high noon - in the heat of the day. The usual time when women went to the well was toward evening, when it was cooler. Why was she going at the hottest time of day? Was her life hectic and disorganized? From verse 18, we learn that she had five husbands and the man she was presently living with was not her husband. Was she ashamed of the way she was living? Perhaps she didn't want to be at the well with other women - she may have feared they would look down their noses at her and make her feel badly about herself and the way she was living.
Whatever the reason-it's high noon-and we find the woman moving toward the well. It's at the well that the longing of her heart is stilled. She has time with Jesus and she gets a taste of God.
Jesus accepts her - a woman - a Samaritan - a person who has made wrong choices, who has messed up her life. He sees beyond the boundaries of gender, culture and moral correctness, and he engages her in conversation.
Next, Jesus shares the truth with the woman. He talks to her about her lifestyle; and he talks to her about the true way to worship God.
And finally, Jesus gives her a life-transforming revelation: “I, who speak to you am he – that is the Messiah. And instantly, she becomes a partner in evangelism.
Jesus looks with compassion to everyone who needs another way of living. The woman drank from the well of Christ’s healing love. And as a result, her encounter with the living Christ became in her a spring welling up to eternal life. She had living water to share. She had been accepted as she was. She had been given truth, so she was ready to share it with others.
The woman had not completed a course in evangelism before she went out. She didn't have a seminary degree. She hadn't had a very long relationship with Jesus, but she made a very strong witness.
How did she do it? She went to her acquaintances and said, "Come and see.... Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done! Could this be the Messiah?"
This woman didn't pretend to have all the answers. She didn't witness by giving a lot of answers to people who weren't even asking questions. No, she just invited them to "come and see."
Some of us are afraid of doing evangelism because we've been turned off by manipulative methods, we've heard stories of evangelism strategies that make us uncomfortable, or we simply don't feel qualified to share our faith.
Evangelism doesn't have to mean using confusing or misunderstood terms, like salvation, and justification, and sanctification. It doesn’t have to be a confusing mess of pop cans in the soda aisle. It can be a very natural conversation like it was for the woman at the well. She simply said to her friends and aquintances, “Come and see; come with me; come experience what I am experiencing.”
Today, we don't have the earthly Jesus the same way this woman had, but we have the church - Christ's body. Most of us interact daily with people who do not know Christ. We are given so many opportunities to say, “Ho, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you that have no money, come…”
One of the most effective ways of sharing our living water is just to say, “Come with me; come with me to my Bible study group or the Young Adults meeting; come with me to our worship service. Come with me to a special event we are having.”
Being the church means that we share our Christ encounters with others; often with people who are hurting. The opportunities are endless:
A few years ago I had a phone call from a local Funeral Director. He asked me if I would officiate at the funeral of an 85 year old man who apparently had no church connections and who had taken his own life. At first I did not know what to say. But then I took down the phone number of a relative who was in charge of the arrangements, and called to offer my services.
This man, a nephew of the old man, told me that his uncle had not been in church for over twenty years, and that they didn’t really expect many people at the funeral; they didn’t have many friends, and the family was small.
The next day in Church I shared my experience with the congregation and asked for wisdom and prayer.
The day of the funeral I felt deeply humbled when more 20 members of our church sat among the funeral guests giving testimony to the love of God, who gives us an unshakable hope for eternity in Jesus Christ.” Having tasted Christ’s living water in their own lives these people had come, some taking time off work, to share it with the hurting family.
Friends, let us accept the living water that Christ gives us, so that it may become in us a spring welling up to eternal life.