Year A Lent 3 John 4:5-42
Here are some "All Age" ideas, an "All Age" talk, and three expository sermons...
All Age Ideas
Here are some, probably familiar ideas.
The first few
make the point that God accepts everyone,
what ever they are like. Don't feel
you need to use all of the following...
Ask anyone if
they know what gurning is? It is the art (?!) of pulling faces.
There are gurning competitions. Ask for some volunteers and have
a competition. See how they compare with these! The point is that
God loves us, whatever we look like!
Get people to
think of/list as many countries as they can either before the service
starts or in 2 minutes or try to compile an A-z from the congregation.
For a list see http://www.travelchampion.com/list-of-world-countries.htm The point is that God loves people wherever
they come from.
Find out if any
of your congregation speak a foreign language, at least relatively
fluently. Ask them to say something to the children and ask them
to guess what language they are speaking. The point is that God
loves us whatever language we speak and that he can understand us.
Get the congregation to stand in a line with the smallest at one end ascending in height with the tallest at the other end. The point is that God loves us, whatever size we are, tall or wide!
to these ideas is that the Samaritans and the Jews hated one other.
There had been hundreds of years of theological dispute, provocation
and violence. For example, about 25 years before some Samaritans
had desecrated the temple in Jerusalem at Passover time by scattering
bones in it. Later, in 52 AD Samaritans massacred some pilgrims
The Samaritan religion closely resembled Judaism, but on key issues its followers had gone their own way. They accepted only the first five books of the Old Testament, and insisted that Mount Gerizim, not Jerusalem, was the proper place to worship God. Jews and Samaritans usually avoided each other and a devout Jew would not go near Samaria. However, Jesus wanted to reach across these barriers. This is why verse 4 said he 'had to go through Samaria'. It was due to an inward compulsion rather than this being the only route he could possibly take.
makes the point that Jesus is good
news we can tell others about, urgently.
whispers". Whisper a short sentence to one person and get them
to pass it round the congregation. See how it changes from the original
to the final message. The point is that the Samaritan woman
spread the good news of Jesus clearly to many people who came to
Ask if anyone
likes ice cream. Give some people ice cream and before they can
start to eat them engage them in mindless conversation about ice
cream, e.g. which is their favourite, when do they normally eat
ice creams, could they think of an ice cream flavour that hasn't
been invented, what is the best weather for ice cream eating, etc.
While this is happening the ice creams will be melting
and, hopefully, the people with them will be concerned about this.
Jesus said that the fields were ripe for harvest, verse 35. Just
as ice creams need to be eaten quickly or else they will melt, so
we need to share the good news of Jesus urgently because some people
may be ready to start their relationship with Jesus now.
To illustrate the concept of living water 4:10-14 get some water in bottles or a hose pipe and pour the water into a bucket/tub. You could also talk about jacuzzis, white water rafting or hydo-electric power. Make the point that there is still water which is lifeless, going nowhere. Or you can have living, moving water which is invigorating, exciting. This is the type of life that Jesus brings with His Spirit living inside every believer. Giving power to live and witness for God.
All Age Service : John 4:4-15
4 Now he had to go through Samaria. 5 So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6 Jacob's well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about the sixth hour.7 When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, "Will you give me a drink?" 8 (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.) 9 The Samaritan woman said to him, "You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?" (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans. ) 10 Jesus answered her, "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." 11 "Sir," the woman said, "you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his flocks and herds?" 13 Jesus answered, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." 15 The woman said to him, "Sir, give me this water so that I won't get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water."
Play ( MIDI )
intros of following songs, people guess what song is. All have a
Bridge over troubled waters - Simon & Garfunkel
The rain in spain - My fair lady
Smoke on the water - Deep Purple
Waterloo - Abba
Waterloo Sunset - Kinks
Why does it always rain on me - Travis
Raindrops keep falling on my head - Sacha Distel Bert Bacharach
I can't stand the rain - Eruption
Its raining men - Geri Halliwell/Weathergirls
in the world? OHP
Angel Falls in Venezuela. It is a slender stream that plunges 3,212 feet (979 meters) down the face of a rugged cliff. It was named after Jimmy Angel, an American bush pilot and gold-hunting adventurer who discovered it in 1937.
In comparison the highest waterfall in England is 'High Force, in County Durham which is a 69 feet drop. 2% of Angel Falls!
with the greatest volume of water?
Khone Falls, a series of waterfalls on the Mekong River bordering Laos and Cambodia, has about 2,500,000 gallons (9,500,000 litres) of water per second flow over their rims, nearly double the volume of
does a waterfall have?
Power, some of them are harnessed to produce electricity.
Active, alive, jumping around.
Jesus compared the Holy Spirit, whom He gives to every believer, to a spring of water welling up to eternal life, verse 14. The woman thought he was talking about the material, H2O, but he was referring to the spiritual.
When someone has
a drink they will, in time need another one, and another one. People
seek physical satisfaction in sex, alcohol, drugs, driving fast,
partying, jobs, popularity, success, wealth, and so on. But these
things will never be enough. They will always leave people wanting
more. Yet Jesus says those who come to him for a spiritual drink
will never be thirsty again. They will never seek satisfaction in
anything else because knowing Jesus and having him in your soul
is enough to satisfy anyone and everyone.
Jesus supply is never ending. Its even bigger than the 2.5 million gallons per second of the Khone Falls. It is always there. We can never out drink Jesus' supply. Unlike a stream which can dry up in hot conditions it will always be flowing.
It is like living or lively water, moving like a waterfall, but gushing from within like a powerful spring exploding out of rock. This spring of water that Jesus referred to contrasts with still or stagnant water, such as the lifeless pond that sheep would be led to drink from. This spring of water wells up to eternal life.
What is eternal life? Jesus answered this question ( John 17:3 ) "Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent."
Eternal life is knowing God and knowing Jesus. It is about a relationship. We start that relationship in this life and continue it more fully in glory. We can know God continual blessings in our lives. The joy of knowing, serving and worshipping him. The comfort of knowing him as our best friend. The security of knowing that we are loved and accepted by God. The resource of prayer that is available to every believer. We need never thirst again.
I'd like to read this account from someone who ran long distances...
"I've heard it. I've read it. As long as I have been running, it's always
been the same message: "drink plenty of water."
All along most race courses are water stations, and most runners slow down to drink a cup of cool water. Keeping your water level up is critical when you run. If you get slightly dehydrated, you will not run well. If you get moderately dehydrated, you will become disoriented. If you get seriously dehydrated, you can die. It's a serious business.
The first year I ran was 1991, and I was inexperienced (also younger,
slimmer, stupider, etc.) I passed water stop after water stop, occasionally drinking a swallow or two. I felt good, and I wasn't going to waste precious seconds drinking water, even though it was a hot, humid day.
Big mistake. As I neared the final mile, I "hit the wall." My energy level
dropped to zero, I began having to walk some, and I realized I would have to work hard just to finish. I did make it across the line, but only with a tremendous headache and hardly enough energy to walk. It was not much fun.
I learned an important lesson that year. Stopping for water doesn't actually slow you down. In fact, you will run a better race if you do drink water. The bottom line is that your body is simply not designed to function without water.
In this year's race, I saw a man become dehydrated just a mile from the finish. Strangely, he didn't seem to recognize that anything was wrong. He was swaying from side to side as he walked, mumbling over and over, "I'm fine. I'm fine." He was so disoriented that he didn't even recognize his own sick condition."
We have to come
to Jesus again and again for top ups. There is a danger for us that
we think we are too busy to pray, read the Bible, and come to church.
We may fool ourselves like the man who didn't recognize he was desperately
in need of water.
If we are to be serious about completing the race of life and do not spend enough time with Jesus we should change our ways before it is too late.
There may be some
people here who have never realised the eternal life that Jesus
offers to everyone who will just ask him, 'Jesus, give me a drink
of your living water.' Maybe you have been dissatisfied with living
life your way and decide you want to come to Jesus for the life
and satisfaction only he can bring. Maybe you long for the security,
joy, blessings and comfort that a relationship with Him brings.
Maybe your own resources are exhausted and you need to come to him
for the sparkling life that only he can bring. If so, you just need
to ask him, like the runners in a marathon who hold out their hands
to grab the water that is offered to them.
PRAY Lord Jesus, I am sorry that I have tried to run my race in my own strength. I confess that I need you to give me your living water, welling up within me to eternal life. Please give me that water now and always. Help me to follow, know, worship and serve you all my days.
live in a 'scientific' age when we are taught that what is true
has to be based on something that can be observed or touched again
and again. We are taught that what is important is what we can see
and touch. That other matters are a matter of personal belief and
that everyone is entitled to have these beliefs. Apart, perhaps
for the England football manager !
In today's gospel reading we have a woman who is looking at the material things, and Jesus looking at the spiritual things. As we come to look at these things we will discover that it is the spiritual that last and are more real than the physical.
First of all we need to know something of the history of the Jews and Samaritans. When one church brands another a cult, it usually creates long-standing bitterness. The Samaritans and the Jews felt that way about each other. There had been hundreds of years of theological dispute, provocation and violence. For example, about 25 years before some Samaritans had desecrated the temple in Jerusalem at Passover time by scattering bones in it. Later, in 52 AD Samaritans massacred some pilgrims from Galilee.
Samaritan religion closely resembled Judaism, but on key issues its followers had gone their own way. They accepted only the first five books of the Old Testament, and insisted that Mount Gerizim, not Jerusalem, was the proper place to worship God. Jews and Samaritans usually avoided each other and a devout Jew would not go near Samaria. However, Jesus wanted to reach across these barriers. This is why verse 4 said he 'had to go through Samaria'. It was due to an inward compulsion rather than this being the only route he could possibly take.
We will be examining this passage by looking at the spiritual truth as opposed to the physical reality. We will look at : True Water; True Worship; True Food; True Harvest; and True Joy.
The well of Jacob lies at the foot of Mount Gerizim. The place that the Samaritans said was the right place to worship God. It was the sixth hour, or 12 o'clock noon. This was an unusual time for a woman to obtain water. Perhaps her lifestyle meant that she was shunned by the other woman who would use the well earlier in the day.
woman can get Jesus water to drink, but Jesus can offer her 'living
water', verse 10. The water that the woman can get is still and
comes from a well. She has to travel from where she lives to get
it. She has to lower a bucket over 70 feet down and up the well.
She will have to come back for more water every day. When she is
thirsty she will have to take a drink. Then after a few hours she
will be thirsty again and need another drink.
true water that Jesus gives is God the Holy Spirit. Verse 13 : Jesus
answered, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again,
14 but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed,
the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling
up to eternal life."
the Holy Spirit is living or running water. Imagine a stream running
down a mountainside. It has got bubbles, makes a sound, seems full
of life, powerful, carrying debris along in it's flow. We can have
that in our lives through God the Holy Spirit who lives inside every
Christian. He bubbles up inside us. We don't have to go to a well
to get him. We don't need to come to him again and again to quench
our thirst because he meets our needs continually. This is the true
water that will sustain and invigorate us in our lives.
man is the sole survivor of an aeroplane crash in the Sahara desert.
He manages to crawl to a distant outcrop of palm trees. On getting
there he finds a bar. He has his wallet with him and orders a drink
of water. He is told this will cost him £1,000. Looking at
the price list he sees that everything is 1,000 times the price
of his local pub. The bar takes credit cards and he has a credit
limit that exceeds the £1,000 required. He carefully considers
What should he do. Should He pay the inflated price for the water to save his own life?
the Holy Spirit gives us eternal life. The price that we have to
pay is to live for Jesus. To surrender our lives totally to him.
verse 19 the woman tries to distract Jesus by bringing up the argument
that Mount Gerizim and not Jerusalem is the right place to worship
God. Jesus counters this by saying, verse 24 "God is spirit,
and his worshippers must worship in spirit and in truth."
Jesus is saying that God cannot be confined to a particular place and he is not confined to being a material being, like one of the false idols worshipped by other religions. However, in Jesus, God has become a man so that we can understand what God is like, and what we are meant to be like. If we want to know what God is like we look at Jesus. If we want to know what God wants us to be like, we look at Jesus.
worship is about worshipping God in spirit. Not man made rituals
and laws, but united with God through his Holy Spirit who wells
up within us to pour out our praise and worship to him. Who enables
us to approach God in truth, aware of our own shortcomings but also
aware of our status as forgiven sinners though Jesus death and resurrection.
we cannot say that God can only be worshipped on Mount Gerizim,
or Jerusalem, or Lichfield cathedral, or St. Martin's Church this
does not give people a reason not to come together to worship. Whilst
we can worship God in our hearts wherever we are, this does not
mean that we should settle for this alone. We need to come together
with other believers to worship, to pray, to learn, to share, to
grow, to support one another and to witness and minister to the
world. If the world does not see going to church as important to
people who call themselves Christians, why should it even start
to consider that church could be relevant to their own lives ?
disciples had gone into Sychar for food and came back to offer it
to Jesus. Jesus speaks of another type of food. The contrast is
similar to that of the water.
may feel full and satisfied after a hearty meal, but we will become
hungry again won't we ? The food that the disciples have obtained
is temporary. After Jesus and the disciples had eaten this food
they would become hungry later and want more food to satisfy them
and to be nourished. If they were to leave the food it would
become stale and decay.
Verse 34, "My food," said Jesus, "is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work."
we looked at the temptation of Jesus two weeks ago we saw how obeying
the word of God was more important to him than food, and satisfying
his own personal needs. Here we see this again. Although food is
important and necessary there is something more important. Obeying
the will of God.
benefits that this brings outweighs the benefits of earthly
food. Rather than providing physical life and sustenance it provides
eternal life and real satisfaction. The benefits of obeying God
in this life will go on into eternity. This is true life.
Matthew 4:4 : Jesus said, "It is written: `Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.'"
particular will of God that Jesus was talking about from verse 35-8
was bringing people to trust in him and, therefore, into a right
relationship with God. He compares people to grain, waiting to be
harvested. There is an urgency about this, like a farmer gazing
out on golden field of grain. As Jesus says these words the crowd
from the village is on it's way to meet him.
An earthly harvest has a seasonal inevitability to it. Again and again the seed is sown, the soil ploughed, the grain grows, is harvested, and stored. Different people are involved. One sowing, one harvesting.
day as a woman was crossing a street near a London station, an old
man stopped her and said, "Excuse me, Ma'am, but I want to
"Thank me?" she exclaimed.
"Yes Ma'am. I used to be a ticket collector, and whenever you went by, you always gave me a cheerful smile and a good morning. I knew that smile must have come from inside somewhere. Then one morning I saw a little Bible in your hand. So I bought one too, and I found Jesus."
true harvest is of souls. Different people may be involved. It doesn't
matter what someone does. What matters is that the harvest is brought
we think of our own lives we can think of the people who were, and
are involved in our spiritual journey. I remember my days at Sunday
School and the different teachers there. The ministers of that and
other churches. The couple who led the Youth Group that I attended
over 20 years ago when I became a Christian. Lecturers at Theological
Colleges, fellow students, fellow Christians at Churches we have
served at... It will be eternity before we discover the true impact
our lives and ministries have had on others.
one-legged school teacher from Scotland came to J. Hudson Taylor
to offer himself for service in China. "With only one leg,
why do you think of going as a missionary?" asked Taylor. "I
do not see those with two legs going," replied George Scott.
He was accepted.
We are all called to play our part harvesting for Jesus. What matters most is our willingness to serve him, not how inadequate we may feel ourselves to be, or others perceive us to be.
As we serve Jesus and look forward to the day when that harvest occurs we can know...
36, Jesus says, ' Even now the reaper draws his wages, even now
he harvests the crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the
reaper may be glad together.'
word 'glad' is better translated 'rejoice' coming from the word
Joy comes from God. I can think of nothing that brings more joy than hearing that someone has come to a true and saving knowledge of Jesus. G. K. Chesterton once said, "Joy is the gigantic secret of the Christian.
Order that we should always keep things in perspective are: J-Jesus;
O-Others; Y-Yourself. We can find Joy on putting Jesus and others
( Copyright 1999 Gibson Productions ).
saw earlier that Jesus goal was to bring people to a saving knowledge
of himself. This was the food or task given to him by God. As followers
of Jesus our goal is to be the same.
having true water. Allowing God the Holy Spirit to bubble up inside
us and have his way. Bringing life and satisfaction.
having true worship. Worshipping him in spirit and in truth, not
in the flesh and in lies. Worshipping him and serving him alongside
other believers in the church.
having true food. Obeying the will of God. Living life according
to his ways and revealed in the Bible. Putting God and others before
working for a true harvest. Sharing the good news of God's love
in word and deed. It doesn't matter what role we may have. Every
Christian is called and equipped by God to minister in some way
in the church. The Bible says it. We all ought to do it.
having a true joy. Not a pleasure that comes from material
things like possessions, food, and drink. But a joy that comes from
seeing people come to trust in Jesus and growing in their , and
our love, knowledge and devotion to him.
John 4:1-26; 27-42.
In today's gospel
we read of Jesus reaching out to a person who was despised by her
own people, and a people who were despised by the Jews.
Jesus was returning
Northwards from Judea to Galilee, where he lived. He had a choice.
To take a "short-cut" through Samaria, or to go a longer
There was a great
deal of hostility between the Jews and the Samaritans. They worshipped
the same God, but the Samaritans only accepted the Torah, the first
five books of the Bible, rejecting the Psalms and the Prophets.
The Samaritans refused to worship at Jerusalem, preferring their
own Temple built on Mount Gerizim, very near to where Jesus meets
the woman at the well. In 128 B.C. Jews had burned this temple and
there was an established hostility, suspicion and bitterness.
Today we might compare this to Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland, for example.
Until we realise
this background cannot understand the shocking nature of Jesus'
parable about the good samaritan. To a Jew there could not be a
good samaritan !
A good Jew would
take the long route around Samaria because it was considered that
contact with a Samaritan would defile them. Making them ceremonially
unclean and unable to take part in Temple worship.
Verse 4 says Jesus
"had to go through Samaria". The reason he had to was
not because he was lazy or unable to walk the longer route. But
because it was God's will that Jesus would reach out to people outside
the Jewish race. Sometimes called Gentiles.
That God would want to reach out to Gentiles was difficult for Jews to understand. That he should want to reach out to Samaritans was radical to the point of being offensive. Not only that a Samaritan woman. Women were of little importance in Jesus' day. They were treated like objects.
The well that
Jesus came to was about half a mile from the town of Sychar. He
was tired. Showing us the humanity of our Lord. He would have been
hot too, for it was about twelve o'clock, the sixth hour, verse
Sunset was the
normal time that water was drawn. This woman probably came
at midday to avoid the other women of the town who could have been
hostile because of her promiscuity.
the custom of the day which held it was improper for a man to talk
on his own with a woman. Not only that he was requesting a drink
from a Samaritan. A Jew drinking from the same jar used by a Samaritan
was unheard of. That is why the woman questioned Jesus in verse
9. Perhaps it was tinged with sarcasm.
Jesus uses this
situation to move the conversation onto a higher plane. From the
material water, to the spiritual living water that only he can give.
He does it in such a way as to arouse the woman's curiosity. Read
The woman hasn't quite understood everything although she does understand that Jesus is making important claims about himself.
She is still thinking
materially. Pointing out that Jesus has nothing to draw water from,
and that the well was founded by Jacob. See verses 11f.
that the water he gives, God the Holy Spirit, will satisfy
in a way that water cannot. Water may quench a thirst once, but
a person will soon become thirsty again requiring more water. Another
trip to the well, winching a jar 100 foot down and up before carrying
The Holy Spirit
living inside will satisfy in a way that no water, no wine, no fast
car, luxury mansion or foreign holiday can. Not only that but the
Holy Spirit will overflow from us. Living water describes running
water, moving, full of life and vitality Gushing out.
The woman still hasn't caught on. She is thinking of the material. Read verse 15. If we had to go and collect water we might sympathise with her.
the subject in such a way as to startle her. Like a slap in the
face, or an athlete pulling up short with a strained muscle or ligament.
"Go call your husband and come back" he says, verse
16. Jesus should really have said this before he started talking
with this woman. It was the etiquette of the day.
her shameful past, and her immoral present. The teaching of the
day allowed divorce, but did not tolerate more than three marriages
due to divorce.
Jesus does so
in a way that is initially positive, commending her fro her truthfulness,
but showing who he is by his supernatural knowledge. Perhaps the
woman had gone from one marriage to another trying to fill a gap
in her life that could only be satisfied by God.
If Joshua is asked
to do something that he doesn't want to do, at home or at school,
he will try to talk his way out of it. Either by explaining that
he is far too busy doing whatever he is doing, or by changing the
In verse 19 the
woman compliments Jesus before changing the subject. She introduces
one of the subjects that divided Jews and Samaritans. Where to worship
God. Jesus is not drawn into this argument but looks forward to
a time when proper worship is not geographical, but spiritual. A
correct attitude of worship, in spirit and in truth. Anywhere. God
is not confined to a particular place.
The woman realises that Jesus is talking about the salvation through the Messiah. The anointed one from God. Perhaps wistfully she looks froward to the Messiah. In ignorance and hope. Not realising that the words that she was saying actually applied to the conversation that she was having with Jesus. Read verse 25f.
This is the only
record that we have of Jesus saying I am the Messiah. Probably because
of all the political overtones it would have to the Jews who expected
the Messiah to be a military conqueror of the Romans.
So we have Jesus,
the Messiah, reaching out and defying accepted customs and norms.
Going to an immoral Samaritan woman to ask her for a drink
of water. And engaging her in conversation in a clever way to bring
her into a realisation of who he is.
We have a regular
worshipper here. He comes here every Christmas Eve. To pray for
his father who is dead. Melanie met him on a bus last month and
he said to her that he didn't feel he could come to church any other
time because of the clothes he wears and the earrings he has..Melanie
assured him that clothes and earrings are not barriers to God, and
that he would be welcome to come.
One of the things that was said at the morning service last week was that Jesus was standing at the door and knocking. That we need to open the doors of our hearts and to look out.
I am sure that
many people are fearful when someone hew comes into church. But
the chances are that they are twice as fearful as we are ! Perhaps
rightly so, because churches can come across as insisting
that people conform to their own expectations rather than those
We are to reach
out to people with the love of Jesus. Defying false expectations
that create barriers. Using our contacts with people to speak of
and seeing Jesus talking alone with a Samaritan woman the disciples
did not question him. Perhaps they were used to Jesus doing the
unusual, they trusted him, and had respect for him.
The woman was
so excited she left her water pot and returned to the town to tell
people about Jesus. She was so sincere and urgent this prompted
the people to investigate, despite her reputation. Verse 30 conveys
this urgency because it literally says "they kept on coming
disciples who had returned from the town with food, tried to get
Jesus to eat. Jesus again alters the conversation from the physical
to the spiritual. Like the woman the disciples do not realise what
Jesus is talking about. Jesus informs them that there is a satisfaction
in completing God's work that is greater than food. Food is temporary,
it is eaten quickly, and more food is needed again to satisfy.
God's work will
last forever, and will provide a satisfaction that food cannot.
That work was
to bring into God's kingdom many Samaritans. Jesus uses the picture
of a harvest to demonstrate this. As he spoke these words those
who will be harvested are busy walking towards Jesus and the disciples
God is involved
in the harvest. Jesus talks of the time between the sowing and harvesting.
A time when man can do nothing but let God work in the seed to produce
a crop. Man co-operates with God. In sowing the seed and reaping
Jesus had worked
in revealing himself to the woman. She had worked in telling the
townspeople about Jesus. Now the people would come to trust in Jesus
and be harvested.
has their own particular journey of faith. For many this may involve
a number of relationships with people who helped us on our way.
Family, a Sunday School teacher, a friend, a colleague, neighbour,
a Church minister. Even those who can date the time they became
a Christian may have had years of preparation for that moment. God
does the growing, it is he who opens people eyes to see who Jesus
is and trust him as their friend and Saviour. But we have a work
to do in sowing, sharing God's love with others. And reaping, leading
them to a point of commitment.
A while ago I
was taking a class on evangelism for the Lichfield Diocese in Stafford.
One person there shared how she had completed a questionnaire with
members of the public about their beliefs. She had been very nervous
about doing this, but had been pleasantly surprised at the openness
of people and that no-one had been nasty. Sometimes, perhaps often,
the problem is not outside but inside. Our own fear.
We would have
something to be fearful about if we had to trust in ourselves. But
we don't. God calls us to trust in him. To step out in faith, and
work with him.
The woman met
Jesus, told her neighbours about this, they came to find out more
and trusted in Jesus themselves. This pattern is typical of many
peoples journey to faith.
In a recent book,
"Finding Faith Today" it states that 62% of Christians
saw the most important factor in them becoming a Christian was a
relationship with someone. These included spouses 14%, children
8%, parents 6%, friends 20% and ministers 17%. Church activities
5% and Evangelistic events 4% didn't feature as much.
Another word that
was given to us last week was that God has the power to change people
in a way we cannot expect or conceive. The apostle Paul is an example
A visitor to Africa
had to get across a deep stream by walking on a plank. Several people
had crossed over it but he looked nervous. When asked why he said
that he did not think that it would support him. But hundreds of
people have crossed here already, came the reply. Yes, but I am
taller and heavier than those who I have seen , the man replied.
Two, well built, hefty fellows crossed together to reassure the man that there was no danger. The man followed them across, unharmed. Why didn't you take our word for it and trust the plank in the first place, they said.
The man replied "You see it was not my faith in the plank which took me across. For my faith was very weak. But it was the strength of the plank, the object in which you advised me to put my trust."
We are called
not to trust in ourselves but to trust in God who will work in people's
lives. In doing so we are called to step out for God.
Verse 40 says
that the Samaritans continued to urge Jesus to stay with them. So
he stayed two days.
Their trust in Jesus became a personal one. Read verse 42.
This man really
is the Saviour of the world. Jesus has come to earth, has died,
risen and ascended for everyone in the world. Of whatever nationality,
colour, sex, or class.
23/3/14 8am John 4:5-42
5 So Jesus came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6 Jacob's well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about the sixth hour. 7 When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, "Will you give me a drink?" 8 (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.) 9 The Samaritan woman said to him, "You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?" (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans. ) 10 Jesus answered her, "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." 11 "Sir," the woman said, "you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his flocks and herds?" 13 Jesus answered, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." 15 The woman said to him, "Sir, give me this water so that I won't get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water." 16 He told her, "Go, call your husband and come back." 17 "I have no husband," she replied. Jesus said to her, "You are right when you say you have no husband. 18 The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true." 19 "Sir," the woman said, "I can see that you are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshipped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem." 21 Jesus declared, "Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshippers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshippers must worship in spirit and in truth." 25 The woman said, "I know that Messiah" (called Christ) "is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us." 26 Then Jesus declared, "I who speak to you am he." 27 Just then his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman. But no one asked, "What do you want?" or "Why are you talking with her?" 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 Christ ?" 30 They came out of the town and made their way toward him. 31 Meanwhile his disciples urged him, "Rabbi, eat something." 32 But he said to them, "I have food to eat that you know nothing about." 33 Then his disciples said to each other, "Could someone have brought him food?" 34 "My food," said Jesus, "is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. 35 Do you not say, 'Four months more and then the harvest'? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. 36 Even now the reaper draws his wages, even now he harvests the crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. 37 Thus the saying 'One sows and another reaps' is true. 38 I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labour." 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 Saviour of the world."
When Jesus told the parable of the Good Samaritan, the Jews whom he told it to would have thought that there was no such thing as a good Samaritan. The races hated each other, generally.
It helps know something of the history of the Jews and Samaritans. There had been hundreds of years of theological dispute, provocation and violence. For example, about 25 years before, some Samaritans had desecrated the temple in Jerusalem at Passover time by scattering bones in it. Later, in 52 AD Samaritans massacred some pilgrims from Galilee.
Samaritan religion closely resembled Judaism, but on key issues its followers had gone their own way. They accepted only the first five books of the Old Testament, and insisted that Mount Gerizim, not Jerusalem, was the proper place to worship God. Jews and Samaritans usually avoided each other and a devout Jew would not go near Samaria. However, Jesus wanted to reach across these barriers. This is why verse 4 said he ‘had to go through Samaria’. It was due to an inward compulsion rather than this being the only route he could possibly take.
After Jesus had challenged the woman about her relationships with married men, she tries to distract Jesus by changing the subject, bringing up the Samaritan argument that Mount Gerizim and not Jerusalem is the right place to worship God. Jesus counters this by saying, verse 24 “God is spirit, and his worshippers must worship in spirit and in truth."
Worship is reverent honour and homage paid to God. The Greek word “proskuneo” means to bow down to Gods or Kings.
Jesus is saying that God cannot be confined to a particular place and he is not confined to being a material being, like one of the false idols worshipped by other religions. However, in Jesus, God has become a man so that we can understand what God is like, and what we are meant to be like. If we want to know what God is like we look at Jesus. If we want to know what God wants us to be like, we look at Jesus.
True worship is about worshipping God in spirit. Not man made rituals and laws, but united with God through his Holy Spirit who wells up within us to pour out our praise and worship to him. The Holy Spirit, who Jesus refers to as “living water” bubbles up within us, enabling us to approach God in truth, aware of our own shortcomings but also aware of our status as forgiven sinners though Jesus death and resurrection. We need God's Spirit to worship him sincerely and wholeheartedly.
We cannot say that God can only be worshipped on Mount Gerizim, or Jerusalem, or St. Albans Abbey, or St. Martin’s Church or St Mary's church. However, this does not mean Christians should not come together to worship! Whilst we can worship God in our hearts and actions wherever we are, this does not mean that we should settle for this alone. We need to come together with other believers to worship, to pray, to learn, to share, to grow, to support one another and to witness and minister to the world.
We live in a very consumerist age, so that many people think that they are entitled to have their desires met and to be happy. This has resulted in some Christians coming to the conclusion that true worship is what meets their particular preferences, and that worship should be measured by how it makes them feel. Whilst it is great when worship makes us feel good, the problem with using this as a measure is that it can make what we use to worship into an idol. So, modern Christian worship songs or the Book of Common Prayer, can become an idol, something that we worship instead of God, when it should be a vehicle to help our public worship.
Using feelings to assess our worship also ignores who our worship should be directed to. We are worshipping God and so the question should be “How does God feel about the way I have been worshipping him today?” not “Has the worship today made me feel better”. If we pursue this, second route, then our feelings become the idol that we worship.
I remember that Chapel Worship at Theological College used to alternate between the Book of Common Prayer and the Alternative Service Book, which preceded the Common Worship liturgy we use today. One student, not used to the Book of Common Prayer declared that he was not going to let this be an obstacle to him worshipping God! We may, actually, get more from a service we are unfamiliar with, because familiarity can blind us to what the service is saying. An example of this is the Lord's Prayer, in whatever version. This was a pattern prayer given by Jesus to his disciples to help them not get involved in repetitive, meaningless, prayer. Yet how many of us think about, say, what it means to hallow God's name, or to ask for his kingdom to come, as we repeat the familiar words?
Worship is a lot more than what happens in a church building on a Sunday. God calls us to respond to Him with all of our life all of the time. We see this in Jesus summary of the law, that we are to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength and to love other people as ourselves.
We also read of this in our Scripture passage for the year; Romans 12:1-2 (NIV) 1 Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God--this is your spiritual act of worship. 2 Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Worship is showing God how much he means to us. We should do this publicly in church services and in small groups. We should also do this with all of our lives all of the time. The sacrifices that were made to gods at the time Paul wrote his letter were dead. Paul encourages Christians, who are dead to their sinful life but now have life in the Spirit, to live for God, so their whole life is an act of worship. Just as a sacrifice was wholly committed to its role, so the Christian is to be completely committed to God. Every day of the week for 24 hours a day. Not just for, say, an hour on Sunday.
These words are from a 19 year old Christian called Carol*. “We are worshipping when God has been glorified in us. To worship is to bow down, place yourself in God's hands and submit yourself utterly to him. This can be in prayer or singing his praise but can also be reflected in our actions – when we serve and put others' needs before our will, that is bowing down, that is worship.”
May God's Spirit inspire us to bring glory to Him with our lives as an act of worship every day, and all day.
* “Young people + worship A Practical Guide” Edited by Mark Montgomery Church House Publishing.