Come, Meet Jesus
John 4:5-26 (049)
27 March 2011
Can you remember where you were when you heard about the floods in Toowoomba this year? Where were you when you first learnt of the earthquake in Japan or Christchurch?
What about the September 11, 2001? Can you remember what you were doing when you first heard about that?
The car crash that claimed Princess Dianna’ life – can you recall where you were then?
Those are more recent events – but for those of you who go back a few years, those older and wiser and more mature people here today – can you remember when the news broke about Prime Minister Harold Holt going missing from Portsea Beach, or when Pearl harbour was attacked?
Why do we remember events like that? Why do they have such an impact on our lives?
Because we’re stopped in our tracks. They come unexpected, out of the blue, they’re sudden and they bring an amount of shock and horror. And as a result we can often remember where we were, who we were with, and what we may have been doing at the time.
Now as shocking as some of those events were, my life wasn’t severely changed by any one of them. No one I knew was killed or injured. No tragedy had a significant detrimental effect on any of my family or friends. And that may have been the case for most of you here today.
Yes, we were saddened and shocked and moved by those events – but life has gone on for us, and probably not a lot has changed in our day to day living.
But what if you did have a friend or family member die in an earthquake or flood or cyclone? What if you yourself were seriously and permanently injured? What if you lost your home or livelihood or any future security? You may have been physically, emotionally, and maybe even spiritually stopped in your tracks and life would never be the same again.
Having our lives turned around like that may not be something that we would ever wish for. And we may pray that it would never happen to us.
But today I want you to think about that possibility – you being stopped in your tracks – not because of a tragedy, but rather because of Jesus coming to you to get your attention, uncovering some things in your life that need changing, challenging you to think about what’s going on in your life, and then refreshing you, and drenching you with his Spirit, so that you are renewed and inspired and encouraged to be a more effective living witness in his kingdom.
Jesus stopped a Samaritan woman in her tracks one day. “Give me a drink” he said. She was shocked, because Jews didn’t speak to Samaritans, didn’t associate with each other, and especially male Jews to female Samaritans. It just wasn’t done. It came as a bit of a surprise to her.
And so did Jesus statement about him offering her water. He didn’t have a bucket. How on earth was he supposed to get water without a bucket? And what did he mean by living water?
Well, he explained but she didn’t quite catch on. So Jesus asked her to do something to help her understand. And that stopped her in her tracks too. He asked her to call her husband, knowing full well that she was living with someone who wasn’t her husband. When she acknowledged that, Jesus made it clear that he also knew that she’d had five husbands.
Maybe things were getting a bit too personal, a bit too close for her at that point, because she tried to change the subject. She was a clever woman – she asked a theological question.
Nothing new about that. If you want to keep Jesus at a distance, just debate some particular teaching or doctrine, talk about what’s happened in the church in the past, or make some suggestions about talk about how the church should be run. By doing that all the time you can very easily avoid Jesus and his claim on your life.
But Jesus answered her question without blinking an eyelid.
Maybe the woman was getting out of her depth at this point, because she changed tack again. Rather than taking Jesus at his word, she said that when the Messiah came, he would explain everything.
Jesus surprised, shocked her, stopped her in her tracks again by saying “That’s me!” Then this same woman who didn’t recognise her sin, closed to any offer of help, and hesitant to admit that God was a living, present reality – she raced back into the town, told people what had happened, and taking a step of faith, dared to ask the question: “Can this be the Christ?”
Jesus saw that her life was like a dry place that needed watering. He saw someone who was spiritually dead who needed the water of life. He helped her to see the needs she had in her life. He helped her to be able to say, to confess, that she wasn’t living a God pleasing life. He helped her to acknowledge that the bucket of her life was empty, and that he was willing and able to fill it with “living water”.
Instead of putting her down and just making her just feel guilty about her situation, Jesus showed that he cared about her. He knew about her sins, but helped her to understand that he hadn’t come to condemn her, but to forgive her. And so by the time she left the well, she was prepared to tell others about what Jesus had said to her and done for her.
Jesus stopped her in her tracks – because he wanted to ease the burden of life that she carried, heal the hurts that she experienced, mend the bruises that she’d received, and bring grace into her life.
Jesus stops us in our tracks too – for those same reasons.
He comes to us in our worship. You know at times when we come to worship we might expect that we’ll draw a little water from the well – you know hear a few words, sing a few songs, say a few prayers, and then go home again – without expecting to have anything really to change in our lives.
Jesus isn’t satisfied with that. He wants us to have more. He doesn’t want us to have a sip of water when we really need a long refreshing drink. He doesn’t want us to have a few drops of water when we’re covered with grit and grime. It’s not enough.
So Jesus comes, and instead of careful rationing a limited amount of living water on us – he pours it all out, soaking us, drenching us with his love and forgiveness so that we can’t help but be renewed and refreshed.
He intends that that water of life splash into every area of our lives – especially the most parched, the most empty, the most hidden, the most dead areas of our lives that we can try to keep God out of – as if it was none of his business.
Jesus invites us to splash in the water of his grace. When we acknowledge where there are hurts, and struggles, and mistakes in our lives – and admit we need help from outside of ourselves, he comes to cover us with the refreshing water of his grace.
That’s what we need – being freed from the burden of guilt, being made new again, ready for a new start in life, and to be able to live this new life by the power of God’s Spirit within us.
This is the new life we’ve been created for. This is the reason for our existence. For as we live as God’s forgiven people, the peace and the comfort and the joy that we have overflows into the lives of the people around us.
That’s why Jesus came into the world; that’s why Jesus sat and talked with the Samaritan woman – so that she could receive his grace. And that’s why we need to sit and talk, and listen and act, and share, and serve, and love the people around us – so that they too can experience his grace.
We have the living water of Jesus’ presence flowing and bubbling in and through us, so that the people who are dying of thirst around us, can have a share of this water too.
God wants to stop you in your tracks again today to remind you that you have some things in your life that need changing and some dry places in your life that need renewing. He wants to stop you in your tracks so that you can receive again the living, refreshing water of his grace to ease your burdens, heal your hurts, and bring peace and hope and a desire to share what you have with others. Amen.
Pastor Mark Leischke