Zis-N-Zat From Pastor Asher

God is my conscience, Jesus lives in my heart… this blog is about what I see, what I think, what I do and how I serve God

Approximate Notes for Sunday Message; John 4:27-42

This is a fourth sermon in the series:

{Sermon # 1}

{Sermon # 2}

{Sermon # 3}

We discussed the Samaritan Woman at the Well last week. Here is a link to that sermon: {Click Me}

Today we will continue the conversation about church, how church relates to the community in which it lives and how the church community relates to the larger culture around it.

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In prior weeks we looked at how Jesus called his first Disciples, and how unique each of the Disciples was. We saw that although they each had different ambitions, interests, and strengths, they were of one accord. We saw that they were inspired by the common vision and worked towards a common mission. We saw that each of them had different skills, ambitions and interests, and how together they worked to complement each other’s efforts.

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We also saw that outreach and mission implies a certain level of risk. In order to reach BEYOND the walls of the church building, in order to bring others to Jesus, someone has to be willing to take calculated risks and step out on faith and actually interact with people who do not share their beliefs.

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It goes without saying that we cannot bring enemies to Jesus; the people whom we consider to be at odds with ourselves would not listen to our stories or follow us to Jesus. In order to bring someone to Jesus we need to be able to interact with them and consider them to be on the same level as ourselves; we need to treat them with respect (John 10:5 – Does the community around our church building know our voice). What is the message that our neighbors see? What is our testimony and witness to the presence of the Holy?

 

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Then last Sunday we talked about the Samaritan Woman at the Well (Her traditional name is St. Photina and/St. Svetlana). Her encounter with Jesus asks a question, “Are we drinking from the wrong well?” We are fallen human beings and we live in a fallen world and because of that it is much easier for us to make wrong decisions (i.e. “to drink from the wrong well”). {Illustration}

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Before we continue, we need to understand who the Samaritans were. In 722 BC the Assyrians conquered the Northern Country of Israel and took everybody that they considered worthwhile into exile. They left behind a few men and women who in their opinion would not be good producers and would not make {“} “good” slaves – people with physical disabilities, least educated, and least capable.

As a result of the resettlement there were farms left open. In II Kings 17: 24 we learn that the Assyrians resettled people from other countries in the territories of Northern Israel. These newcomers were pagans. The Samaritans of Jesus’ time were the offspring of those Israelis left behind by the Assyrians and those who were brought in for resettlement. Because of that intermarriage, the Samaritans were considered “ritually unclean” by the Jews. That is why the Jews did not want to have anything to do with the Samaritans: interacting with the “ritually unclean” would mean that they would be expelled from the community for purification rituals – which were expensive and time consuming.

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All of a sudden, Svetlana’s statement, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (John 4:9) takes on a different meaning. All of a sudden her statement, “Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem” (John 4:20) takes on a different undertone. I think that she was trying to pull Jesus into a debate, asserting that Jesus would become ritually unclean.

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Notice that Jesus did not take the bait. Jesus did not argue the finer points of theology with her. What Jesus talked about was her life, and what her life could become: “I will give you the living water that will well up to a spring of eternal life” (John 4: 14 paraphrase).

Let’s unpack what happened as a result of Svetlana’s and Jesus’ meeting. In John 4: 28 – 30 we hear:

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28 Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, 29 “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” 30 They came out of the town and made their way toward him.

Svetlana is still not sure about the true identity of Jesus, but she is fairly certain about his relationship with God (“He understands me” – “he told me everything I ever did” // {???} “Could he be the Messiah?”}.

It is a consensus that she was not the most outstanding citizen of the town. We saw last week that she was neither soft-spoken nor well-mannered. With all these strikes against her, the power of her conviction was so strong that the people in the village dropped everything and came to see Jesus at the well.

John 4: 39-42 tells us what happened as a result:

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39 Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. 41 And because of his words many more became believers.

42 They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.”

So what’s in it for us.

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We live in a world surrounded by “Samaritans.” We live in a world driven by economic globalization, rapid communication, and easily available mass education. The resulting global culture is syncretic[1], synergistic[2] and pluralistic[3] with every conceivable belief system interacting with other beliefs and lifestyles. The exchange of ideas, ideologies, and cultures is complex and fruitful. When the Church allows itself to get bogged down in theological debates instead of graciously respecting other points of view, we alienate ourselves from the communities in which we live. Jesus did not pick a fight with Svetlana; all Jesus said was “I can help you to make sense out of your life” (John 4:19 paraphrase).

{Illustration: we cannot bring enemies to Christ…}

As a result, Svetlana went to the town empowered, with a new understanding of herself, and her testimony brought the whole town to Jesus. How does our relationship with Jesus empower us? What is the testimony of our church community? Do our neighbors see the strength of our convictions in the way we live our lives? Do our neighbors see us living out our convictions in a gracious and respectful manner?

As a result of Svetlana’s encounter with Jesus, there was probably a church community established in Samaria. Two groups of people who had not seen eye to eye for generations, came together and a seed was planted for a new community of followers of Jesus.

In that encounter between Jesus and Svetlana we see the interaction between Church and a community of people who did not see any reason to be in a relationship with Jesus or the Church. In that encounter we see how a community interacts with the culture; we see an example of how to make our voice heard and recognized.

Being part of a church, being in a relationship with God is about the meaning of our lives. Together we can help not only each other, but also our neighbors, to discover meaning in our lives. And that is how we help each other to be the best version of what God created us to be.

 

Footnotes:

[1] Dictionary.com defines term syncretism as “reconciliation or fusion of differing systems of belief, as in philosophy or religion.” The term syncretic is defined as “union of different or opposing principles, practices, or parties, as in philosophy or religion.”

[2] Dictionary.com defines term synergy as “the interaction of two or more agents or forces so that their combined effect is greater than the sum of their individual effects.” The term synergistic is defined as “producing or capable of producing synergy.”

[3] Dictionary.com defines term pluralism as “a condition in which numerous distinct ethnic, religious, or cultural groups are present and tolerated within a society.” The term pluralistic is defined as “a condition in which many cultures coexist within a society and maintain their cultural differences.”

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2 responses to “Approximate Notes for Sunday Message; John 4:27-42

  1. Pingback: Approximate Notes for Sunday’s Message; May 17, 2015 | Zis-N-Zat From Pastor Asher

  2. Pingback: Approximate Notes for Sunday’s Message. | Zis-N-Zat From Pastor Asher

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