Paradise Is Ours Again, So Now What
Vicar Brian Henderson
Introduction: The question I pose to us tonight in our message is, “Paradise is ours again, so now what?” To answer this question, we will use our gospel lesson, with emphasis on the verses 28 through 30: “Then leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?” They came out of the town and made their way toward him.” (John 4:28-30). Like the Samaritan woman, we to have been called to share our story with others (testimony), and it is a story about how the Lord has changed our lives. For some here this evening, this is simply a confirmation of what you already knew, but for others, you may be wondering, “Is this really necessary?” Well consider this, we are told that the population of the United States is steadily increasing, but church membership is simply staying the same. Therefore, the percentage of Christians in our nation is slowly dropping. Now throughout the years, there have been various methods used by pastors and congregations to stem the tide of falling membership, with the aim being to produce membership growth, but most of these methods are short-lived and result in failure.
Further, a study of new members who have joined churches has revealed that the vast majority of them were moved to join a church because someone they knew invited them. This is by far the best method of achieving results. The personal invitation is the single most effective tool of evangelism. Now let’s ask a few tough questions of our selves: Whom have you invited to our church in the last 90 days? Are we letting Christ down, and are we unmoved by the decline in our church membership? What do we think of the steady rise and growth of cults and oriental religions? These are just a few questions that we can use to allow God to move our heats towards hearing him speak tonight.
So, let’s allow our Gospel lesson to teach us tonight. We’ll use it as a case study, and then apply what we’ve learned to ourselves. We will call this approach the “Come and See” method, which the Samaritan woman used with great success. In fact by following this method she was able to lead untold numbers from her town towards the Messiah.
I. Now, allow me to supply a little background information for you. Our Lord, had just entered Galilee from Judea. It was about 12:00 o’clock noon, a hot summer day, and Jesus and His disciples were tired, hungry and thirsty. They stopped at a Samaritan village to rest and buy food. While the disciples were away, Jesus sat down at a well to rest and have a drink of water. Many times we loose sight of our Lord’s humanity and focus solely on His divinity. But, we must remember that he was like us in every way except in regards to sin. He was truly hungry, thirsty and tired just like us.
So Jesus is at the well, and along comes a Samaritan woman who is preparing to draw water from the well. She has her large jar for carrying water with her, because she needs to replenish her homes water supply. This is a bit strange, because the other women take care of this task early in the morning, so that they can avoid the oppressive heat of summer. No one but outcasts and strangers would come to get water at this time of the day. But, nevertheless, this woman is there at the well with Jesus. If we were there, perhaps we would be wondering what type of woman she was and why she found it necessary to come to the well at this strange time, but not our Savior. No Jesus used this encounter as a chance to get to know the woman and minister to her.
(Woman) Jesus said, “Will you give me a drink?” “Give you a drink?” she asks, “how is it you a Jewish man would stoop so low as to ask me a Samaritan woman for a drink?” Many people read this as a question of humility, because the Jews treated the Samaritan’s as second class citizens, but we must remember that the Samaritans thought the same of the Jews. You see, their great divide, the thing that caused them to hate each other so terribly was centered in the question of where and how one should worship Jehovah God! No friends, this question was not one centered in humility, but rather in her pride. She may have had to accept being looked down upon by the other women of her town, but this “Jew” wasn’t going to do the same to her. No, now was her time to give this Jew a piece of her mind.
How many of us would have simply handled an encounter with a pride-filled angry person by simply wishing them a good day and then quickly walking away? But this was not the reaction of Jesus. No He saw within this encounter an opportunity to speak Words of life to someone who had been trapped in sin. So our Lord began to preach the gospel to ears that He knew would not hear. “"If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water." ‘If you only realized who I AM and what a gift it is that I am offering you, then you would ask me for it, because through it streams of living water will spring up within you and refresh your spirit and soul eternally.’ But for this woman and even those like her today, neither the gift nor the Giver is known, but secretly, within their souls they so desperately want to know both. This secret thirst, which was hidden even to the woman and to the unbeliever today, was not hidden to Jesus. Jesus spoke of this when He said, “But he who drinks of this water will thirst again,” (but) “they who hunger and thirst after righteousness shall be filled” (Matt. 5:6). For “he who believes in Me, out of his belly shall flow living waters” (John 7:38).
What happened next? Did this prideful woman beg for the spiritual water that our Savior offered? No, but what did she ask for? She asked for physical water that would quench her physical thirst. Her pride would not allow her heart to hear the good news and ask its meaning. But like a skilled physician, Jesus turned to the scalpel of the Law and opened up her heart by saying, “Go, find your husband and then come back here (for this water). “I have no husband” she replied. ‘And now dear woman’ Jesus says, ‘I will tell you why you are out in this heat at 12 noon drawing water.’ “You were right when you said that you had no husband, in fact you have had five husbands and the man that you are (sleeping) with now is not your husband.” That was it; the work of God’s Holy Spirit was complete. The woman had been confronted with her sin and she could no longer hide behind her pride. “How could this man know these things about me?” she thought. “Could he be the…” “Sir” she said, “I know that the Messiah is coming and when he comes he will know and explain all things.” And Jesus answered, “I who speak to you am he.”
This poor woman is like so many people today. People who so desperately need the living water, but they just don’t know how to find it and because of this, they are lost. There once was a little boy who got separated from his parents in a large shopping center. The Security Department quickly located the child, and took him to an office while the frantic parents who were searching everywhere were finally paged over the intercom. One of the security guards got a large ice cream cone for the boy, so when his parents arrived at the office, there was their little son happily eating his ice cream. Suddenly, as his parents emotionally embraced him, the child burst into tears. One of the security guards said, "Gosh, I guess he didn't know he was lost until he was found!"
Friends, we to were once like the little boy, the Samaritan woman, and so many other people today who can’t know they are lost until they meet Jesus. But praise God we who were once lost now are found! Can you see that this dear woman, after she met Jesus, is now you and me? Just as she sat and heard the Lord speak both Law and Gospel to her at the well, we also hear the same Lord speak to us both Law and Gospel right here in this place of worship, week after week! Our Lord has already told her and us what the result of His living Word would be once it is received; it will create “a Spring of Living Water.” This woman drank and was filled, as have we. And like the woman we to feel drawn by the Spirit to leave this place with the same announcement that she had, “Come, and meet a man who told me everything I ever did. He is the Messiah.”
One question remains unanswered for us this evening. How do we become involved in this “Come and See” ministry if we have never done it before? Well do you remember the Nike sport shoe commercials from the late 90’s? There slogan was “Just Do It!” That would be the best advice for all of us this evening. Let’s just do it with the talents and time that God has already given us and let’s just do it within the communities where He has already placed us. For some, it may be working with children and for others it may be in the work place or at school. Some may be equipped to begin conversations with people on Internet Discussions boards or within other areas that use technology. But the point is that God has already empowered us to just do it.
If you have never witnessed to others before, I know that it can be some what frightening at first. But you are not alone in this, because the God who promises that He will never leave nor forsake you is at your side. And he has provided others right here in this congregation who have witnessed before and still do proclaim to others “Come and See!” Please feel free to ask for help and advice from these faithful witnesses. Look for someone who you respect and admire and simply ask them to help you grow in your witness for Jesus. Our congregation has been greatly blessed in the past with people who have offered their time and talents to such programs as the Kennedy Witnessing Program, the Evangelism Explosion, and even our own Synod’s “Each One Reach One” campaign. I believe that these tested witnesses are just waiting to be asked to help!
And for those of you, who are already witnessing your faith to others, please consider offering your experience by acting as a mentor to those who have never been involved in witnessing before. Your experience and love for the Lord can mean so much for those who are just beginning in their own “Come and See” ministry.
Conclusion: Dear Saints, we are the Samaritan woman. We all have been given the gift of living water, and by the power of the Holy Spirit we are moved to take our witness out into our community and proclaim to all who by God’s grace will listen to our invitation, “Come and see the God who knows and forgives everything I have ever done and ever will do!” And by that same grace, God will provide the results that the Samaritan town was blessed with, they will come out of their sin and make their way towards Jesus who is proclaimed here in this Church, Him crucified, resurrected and glorified for us and for them!
May God grant this we pray, in Jesus name……AMEN