The Rev. Kimball C. Arnold, Deacon
March 14 and 15, 2020
Sermon based on John 4: 5-42
Our human tendency is to judge others because of stereotypes, customs, or prejudices. Jesus treats people as individuals, accepting them with love and compassion. Do you dismiss certain people as lost causes, or do you see them as valuable in their own right, worthy of knowing about the Gospel?
Recently I pulled up in front of the gas station and noticed a man standing just outside the doors. He was unshaven, unclean, had wild hair and was rather scary looking. Upon exiting my car, I walked toward the doors with a smile on my face and said hello. He smiled back, greeted me and held the door open for me as I thanked him. I could not help but wonder if I was the first or only person to greet him and show kindness to him.
We know from the story of the Woman at the Well that Jews traditionally despised Samaritans. Jesus broke three Jewish customs during his encounter with the woman. First he spoke to her despite the fact that she was a woman. She was a Samaritan woman and then he asked her to get him a drink of water, although using her cup or jar would have made him ceremonially unclean.
Jesus’ behavior shocked the woman at the well. As if that weren’t enough, he told the woman he could give her “living water” so that she would never thirst again. Jesus used the words living water to refer to eternal life, the gift that would satisfy her soul’s desire only available through him. At first, the Samaritan woman did not fully understand Jesus’ meaning. Though they had never met before, Jesus revealed to her that he knew she’d had five husbands and was now living with a man who was not her husband. This certainly got her attention! Jesus and the woman discussed their views on worship, and she voiced her belief that the Messiah was coming. Jesus told her, “I who speak to you am he.” As the woman grasped the reality of what he had said, the disciples returned from finding food in town and they were shocked to find Jesus speaking with the woman. The Samaritan woman Jesus met faced prejudice from her own community. She had come to draw water in the hottest part of the day, instead of the usual morning or evening times, because she was shunned and rejected by the other women because of her immorality. Jesus knew her history but still accepted her and ministered to her.
She left behind her water jar and hurried back to town, inviting the people to Come and See, a man who told her all she had done. The Samaritans were excited about what the woman had told them. They came from Sychar and begged Jesus to stay with them. Jesus stayed two days, teaching the Samaritan people about the Kingdom of God. When he left, the people told the woman – we have heard for ourselves and we know that this man is indeed the Savior of the world. They accepted him for who he truly was. By reaching out to the Samaritans, Jesus showed that his mission was to all people, not just the Jews. And maybe, just maybe… one day someone that is ‘blind in worldly ways will ask you the question; Are you Jesus?
That’s our mission, is it not? – to be so much like Jesus that people cannot tell the difference as we live and interact with a world that is blind to His love, life and grace.
If we claim to know Him, might I suggest that we live, walk and act as He would. Even if in some ways we might think that we are not worthy of the task. Remember who Jesus first declared who he was to – an outcast, Samaritan, woman in public, one with three strikes against her. This is whom Jesus chose to be His evangelist. Knowing Him is actually living the ‘Word’ as life unfolds day to day. Know that that life of faith is one day at a time – one act… one moment layered upon another. Know that God chose us, each and every one of us, as he chooses the woman at the well
The Gospel is for every person, no matter what his or her race, social position, religious orientation, or past sins. We need to share this Gospel at any time or in any place. We need to be prepared to deal with those who may be accustomed to being ill-treated and who are not sure of our motives. Jesus crossed all barriers to share the gospel, and we who follow him must do no less – even if we are misunderstood. Our human tendency is to judge others because of stereotypes, customs, or prejudices. Jesus treats people as individuals, accepting them with love and compassion. Do you dismiss certain people as lost causes, or do you see them as valuable in their own right, worthy of knowing about the Gospel? Go….Go as the woman at the well did – singing God’s praises for the joy that is in you!
How often do we see or encounter people different from ourselves and attempt to avoid them? Or, do we do as Jesus taught, to love our neighbors as ourselves? How might we reach out and touch the lives of others, following Jesus in our lives, with love and compassion? Amen.