Encountering Christ

ENCOUNTERING CHRIST     JOHN 4:1-42

Introduction

Clean water is something we take for granted every day.  Recently our neighboring community of Tallulah went through a period of time when their 70 year old water system stopped working, leaving residents with limited to no water. According to the World Health Organization 844 million people worldwide do not have a basic service providing water to their homes. In a Super Bowl ad you might see today, Matt Damon says that if 1% of viewers would buy a Stella Artois chalice, a donation would be made that would supply clean water to 1 million people. There are critics of the ad. It cost 5 million dollars for the 30 second spot. But it does remind us how important it is that water be available to the world. I’m sure any family without water will be grateful to receive the help.

In about 30 AD a nameless woman carried a water jar to a well in Sychar one day about noontime. As she approached, she knew she was not alone at the well. Little did she know what amazing encounter she was about to have.

John 4:1-6 Now when Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard, “Jesus is making and baptizing more disciples than John” —although it was not Jesus himself but his disciples who baptized— he left Judea and started back to Galilee. But he had to go through Samaria. So he came to a Samaritan city called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired out by his journey, was sitting by the well. It was about noon.

Two people to see in this encounter: The woman, and us.

Encounters With Jesus Are Purposeful (4:7-10)

John 4:7-10  A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” (His disciples had gone to the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?” (Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans.) 10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.” 

This encounter was on Purpose – Vs. 4 (But he had to go through Samaria.) No one has ever met Christ by accident. Luke 19:10 says, “For the Son of Man came to seek out and to save the lost.”

Francis Thompson was born in 1859. An English poet, the son of  medical doctor. After spending years on the streets of London, supporting himself with odd jobs, addicted to opium, some publishers took interest in his poetry. In time his fragile health gave way to tuberculosis and he died in 1907. Three of his books of poetry were published, but he is best known for one poem. The Hound of Heaven -The Bishop of London “one of the most tremendous poems ever written.” No matter how he tried to run from the Lord, He always knew that the Hound of Heaven kept chasing him across the years. 

There is no accidental encounter with Christ. He waits for us and follows us, seeking an encounter with us.

Encounters With Jesus Are Provocative (4:11-15)

John 4:11-15 The woman said to him, “Sir, you have no bucket, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? 12 Are you greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us the well, and with his sons and his flocks drank from it?” 13 Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.” 15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I may never be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.”

There are a dozen reasons why this conversation shouldn’t have happened, but Jesus didn’t let anything stop him from reaching out. 

He ventured beyond the boundaries of the religious and cultural taboos of his day and began a conversation with the woman …. changing the course of her life. – Howard  K. A. Gregory, Feasting on the Gospels

All around us are people who are spiritually thirsty and do not even know it. They dig wells that can’t  satisfy their thirst: Addictions and habits, Money and possessions, sex and selfishness. How easy is it for us to fall into those mistakes? Only an encounter with Christ can satisfy the deep spiritual thirst within. Jesus isn’t afraid to walk into these situations. Never let any regret of the past keep Him out of your present.

Encounters With Jesus are Prophetic (4:16-26)

John 4:16-26 Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come back.” 17 The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; 18 for you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you have said is true!” 19 The woman said to him, “Sir, I see that you are a prophet. 20 Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you say that the place where people must worship is in Jerusalem.” 21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” 25 The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When he comes, he will proclaim all things to us.” 26 Jesus said to her, “I am he, the one who is speaking to you.

The realization of Jesus’ identity lights up the woman’s face. Jesus is a prophet. Prophets point three directions:

*They point out sin

*They point out a Savior

*They point out a future path

If Jesus told us everything we ever did, how uncomfortable would we be in his presence? Yet Jesus’ knowledge of our sin is not the end of the story … but the source of joy comes when this is attached to the Savior who points a path ahead.

Living water – a spring welling up to eternal life. Jesus is the only One who can make such a promise

Encounters W/ Jesus Are Persuasive (27-33; 39-42)

John 4:39-42 Many Samaritans from that city believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I have ever done.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them; and he stayed there two days. 41 And many more believed because of his word. 42 They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the Savior of the world.”

Karoline Lewis: “She leaves behind her ostracism, her marginalization, her loneliness, because Jesus has brought into his fold. She leaves behind her disgrace, her disregard, and the disrespect she has endured to enter into a new reality, a new life that is abundant life.”

The theme of John: and they believed in Him. Another theme: and they did not believe in Him. Which describes you?

Conclusion

There are good efforts to bring water to the thirsty in ongoing efforts, but we must never tire of bringing the water of eternal lost into the lives of others. 

In spite of all that God has done to reach us, many remain thirsty for God. The heartbroken Samaritan woman came to the well to draw water and had an encounter with life-giving Jesus. He was there waiting for her, and He’s waiting for you today. 

If you’ve ignored him and tried to just do life your own way, He’s waiting.

If you’ve failed a thousand times, He’s still waiting.

If you’re just ready to take first steps, He’s waiting.

Who will encounter Christ today?

We encounter Christ in many ways.

When we are baptized we are baptized into his death, burial, and resurrection…baptized into Him.

When we open the Scriptures and learn of him.

When we love others and serve them in his name.

When we pray to him in humble repentance.

When we give in to Him and yield our lives to Him.

When we consider our failings and depend on His grace.

Never fail to encounter Christ, that is when our life changes.

As the deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul longs for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and behold the face of God? ~Psalm 42:1-2

 

Resources

NPR report on Matt Damon Commercial

Tallulah Water Crisis

The Hound of Heaven

Karoline M. Lewis. John. Fortress Biblical Preaching Commentaries.

Howard  K. A. Gregory, Feasting on the Gospels, John, Volume 1.