Chapel with Dr. Thor Madsen

Posted January 22, 2020 by Matthew Hines


Turn with me to John chapter four. John chapter four. You by now have probably surmised that I’ve had the virus that was picked up on radar at MCI airport. I’ve often thrown myself into fire, into water lately and I’ve been taking a lot of medication. I don’t think that’s good for me. I’ve been careful about the instructions, but at my size and weight I give myself some margin. You know, you look on these bottles and you see something there that we get used to without really thinking about it too much. There’s just two sets of instructions. One for adults and one for children, right? Just two sets of instructions. There is no instruction separate for Italians, no separate instructions for Scandinavians, people from Guatemala, Australia, wherever it may be. There’s just two sets of instructions. All you need to qualify to benefit from Tylenol or NyQuil or Robitussin is to be in pain and be an adult.

Everybody in this room might match that description at some time or other in your lives. You also notice that it’s the same medication regardless of who you are. Tylenol is Tylenol. They don’t have a Swedish version. They don’t have a separate version for somebody from Uganda, a separate kind for somebody from Thailand or Vietnam. It’s the same effectiveness regardless of who you are. I mentioned that this morning because it gets us thinking about a phenomenon that becomes clear in John chapter four and that is the gospel is for everyone. The gospel is for everyone. That is going to be the clear singular message of this entire chapter. Everything that happens, there are nine specific steps that are taken in this chapter and all nine of them point directly to that conclusion. The Samaritans were people, I’ll say more about this eventually, who were not well liked by the Jews; they just weren’t. And, the Samaritans returned the favor; they didn’t like the Jews either. The Samaritans were people who lived in the wrong place at the wrong time. When the Northern kingdom fell in the eighth century, the Assyrians repopulated the Northern kingdom with people from other places and so it was natural for the Jews of Judah, for example, to think of the Samaritans as half breeds. That’s an ugly word, right? But that’s what it was. They’re mutts, they’re not real, see. And, it led to the conclusion very naturally in our sinful hearts. This is what people think. Well, you know, they, they can really have no dealings with our God. Hear that word, our God, right? They can’t have dealings with our God. And that means we don’t really want to have any dealings with them. And this passage defeats that way of thinking. And you’ll see that as thus far in John’s gospel, you’ve seen the prologue in which Jesus is introduced to us, if you will, is the ultimate VIP, very important person.

He’s the Son of God. He’s the creator God. He’s also the rejected God. He came to his own and his own did not receive him, but to as many as who did receive him to them, he gave the right to become children of God. Born not naturally, but supernaturally. As you also see, for example, in chapter three, when a person naturally as qualified as you can possibly be to just do the math and understand who Jesus is- Nicodemus. No, no he doesn’t get it because he’s not super naturally born from above. You’ve seen leading up to this passage is a clear distinction between John the Baptist as a prophet and then Jesus who is ever so much more than a prophet, and now we get to this passage where the question becomes, “okay, we understand he’s the Messiah of Israel. But is he the Messiah of everyone?” And everybody in this room should pay attention because if he’s not the Messiah of someone like a Samaritan, he’s not going to be yours either or mine.

Pay attention. Let’s find out whether you and I, spoiler alert the answer “yes,” but let’s find out in the stream whether we have any hope at all of eternal life. You look with me in verse one it says this, starting here, Jesus offers life to a Samaritan woman. This is the point made in the first 18 verses. “Now, when Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John, although Jesus himself did not baptize but only his disciples, he left to Judea and departed again for Galilee. And he had to pass through Samaria.” So you have this place where you know it’s, it’s viewed by Jews as kind of tainted. They’ll still go that way. If you’re going to go from Jerusalem up to some place like Galilee, the direct route would be to pass through Samaria. So that’s what he’s doing, passing through there.

He’s traveling in the middle of the day and it’s a, it’s a three day journey and it’s a long way. Jesus is then on foot traveling with his disciples and he comes to this place inhabited by these people who are not, to use the term, “real Jews.” They’re ‘sorta’ Jews. That’s going to create a problem. Verse five. “So he came to the town of Samaria called Sychar near the field that Jacob had given his son Joseph.” You can read about that in Genesis 48. “Jacob’s well was there. So Jesus, wearied as he was from his journey, was sitting beside the well. It was about the sixth hour.” You start counting at sunrise. The sixth hour would then be high noon. It’s hot and he’s there having traveled during the day and on foot. “A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, give me a drink for his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food. The Samaritan woman said to him, how is it that you a Jew ask for a drink from me? A woman,” strike one, “from Samaria,” strike two. We’re going to find out she has a third strike. She’s a sinner. More on that in a minute.

How? Why would you do that? Parenthetically explanation “for Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.” What this actually means is essentially they don’t use what Samaritan’s use; they don’t use the same utensils as one application of that because, especially something to drink with, because in that day, dry goods were less susceptible to uncleanness than things that were wet. So therefore, if you’re drinking from the same vessel as a Samaritan, you really, you’re going to get Samaritan cooties on you; can’t have that. Who do you have no dealings with? Who are you thinking about? I hope no one,

But it’s normal, right to think that way. I don’t have dealings with them. Who is your them today? Verse 10 here comes the offer of eternal life. “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’ve given you living water.'” This illustration of water comes from a part of the old Testament that the Samaritans themselves did not accept. They believe that the first five books of the Bible are scripture, the rest is not. So these illustrations of water come from the part of scripture they reject and of course she’s a Samaritan. She’s not going to know that. Oh, but if you knew, if you knew what you were missing. Jeremiah two verse 13 “for my people have committed two evils, they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters.

And have hewed out for themselves. Broken cisterns that can hold no water, substituting the glory and favor of God for an idol.” Ezekiel 36 verses 22 to 28; this passage that Jesus alludes to in talking to Nicodemus, of being born of the water and spirit. Listen to this. He says, verse 24 “I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries and bring you into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water on you and you shall be clean from all your uncleanness’. From all your idols I will cleanse you.” Verse 26 this is what Nicodemus should have known. He was Israel’s teacher, “and I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you; and, I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” Living water an illustration of this ingredient, this factor, this cause that makes all the difference in the world.

Naturally, If you lived in a place like Israel, water makes all the difference. It’s a naturally dry area. It’s like the central Valley of California where I come from; so does Dr. Harrison. And we can tell you here, California only has two colors in that part of California, brown and green. And water makes all the difference between life and no life; between soil that is the richest agricultural soil in the entire world, is right there in the central Valley of California, and not one thing would grow without water. Water makes all the difference and it becomes a natural illustration for Jesus to use to talk about the very things that are promised in the old Testament as to the effect of the power of God on a sinner, raising that person, summoning that person to life. This is what Jesus is talking about, but of course, since he speaks about water right next to a well, there is the opportunity and the woman seizes it to misunderstand what he says.

Water makes all the difference. She doesn’t catch it. Verse 11- you start to see that Jesus not only offers life to a Samaritan woman, but also do a sinful woman. Verses 11 to 18, “The woman said to him, sir, you have nothing to draw water with and the well is deep about a hundred feet apparently. Where do you get this living water? Are you greater than-” Watch this power move. “-are you greater than our father?” See, the Samaritans “our father,” “are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and he drank from it himself as did his sons and his livestock. Jesus said to her, everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again.” They’ll, they’ll get thirsty again because it’s just natural water. Verse 14, “but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

It never ever runs out. You see that in the revelation, water roaring out from the throne of God. This great abundance of life giving water that God promises to those who follow Christ. That is the offer that Jesus is making to- think about it, now. She’s a Samaritan. She’s a sinful woman. She has issues. She’s one of those people that my mother would have called ‘different.’ That’s, I just have to tell you. So my mother was very gentle in describing people. So she talked about somebody being different. That means that person has fangs and a long, long rap sheet. You don’t want to be called different by my mother, that that’s always bad and she’s different. She’s different. Her life is a train wreck combined with an earthquake. Look what it says. He offers this promise and then in verse 15 she says, “‘sir, give me this water so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.’

Jesus said to her, ‘go call your husband and come here.’ The woman answered him, ‘I have no husband.’ Jesus said to her, ‘you are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’ for you have had five husbands and the one who you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.'” Now you look at that and you recognize that Jesus catches her and he exposes the fact that she’s two marriages beyond the limit. Here’s what I mean. People in that day would’ve thought, okay, three marriages. Wow, okay, but if you blow through that limit, there’s something wrong. The one common denominator in those relationships is you lady, you’re the one, you’ve had five husbands and you’re now living with somebody without the benefit of marriage. And here’s why that’s said, Jesus makes it clear that the offer of living water that he extends to her is made with complete knowledge of how rotten she is and how rotten we are.

He, he x-rays her, he knows exactly what he’s doing. You might’ve thought, well, wait a minute. If he had known what kind of woman this is, he wouldn’t have said that to her. He wouldn’t even be talking to her, but he is, and he knows exactly who she is. He offers life to a Samaritan woman. He offers life to a sinful woman, but number three, he makes the whole world his place of worship. Now the question is, “where do you have to worship God?” This will make all the difference to us right now in this chapel. Is it okay for us to be right here worshiping God? We’ll find out. Verse 19, “The woman said to him, ‘sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain.'” This is Mount Gerizim. You would have been able to see it from where they are. “‘You say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.'”

That’s a very clever question for her to ask him. Sometimes I think people look at this question, they think she’s sorta deflecting, right. “I don’t want to have a conversation about my husbands, so let’s talk about abstract theology, right?” I mean, it might be possible to take her response in that way, but she’s actually asking the singular question that defines her existence as a Samaritan. It’d be like this. An angel comes to you in the night, scares you to death, but then says, “ask me one question,” right? Ask me one question, I’ll answer it. You know, everybody has an answer like pre-trip, post-trip; order of salvation, right? Some of you would blow this opportunity on Ford versus Chevy. Don’t, don’t, don’t do that. Middle earth versus Narnia, right? Designated hitter, right? No, don’t do that. Ask a good question, please. For all of us, right? If this happens, in the unlikely event of that water landing. She asked the question, “where should we worship?”

“If you’re a prophet, you’re going to know and you can settle this whole thing,” and Jesus answered, answers her in these terms, you’re wrong and it doesn’t matter. Look what he says. Verse 21 “Jesus said to her, ‘woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the father, you the Samaritans worship what you do not know,'” so there’s your answer to the question. You Samaritans, turns out you’re wrong. “‘We worship what we know for salvation is from the Jews,'” but look at verse 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 is seeking such people to worship him.'” God is spirit and those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth, which means therefore that people all over the world right now can worship the Lord without worry that they’re doing so in the wrong place.

That gives hope because that means once more, the gospel is for everyone. He offers life to a Samaritan woman. He offers life to a sinful woman. He makes the whole world his place of worship. Number four, Jesus reveals his true identity to this sinful Samaritan woman. This is one of the clearest statements he makes about who he is and to whom he says it matters greatly. Verse 25, “the woman said to him, ‘I know that Messiah is coming. He who is called Christ. When he comes, he will tell us all things.'” Verse 26 “Jesus said to her, ‘I who speak to you am He.'” Jesus can be elusive about that. You know that you look in the gospels, you find out he, he can be somewhat difficult to pin down in terms of how he says what he does about who he is. You have to know something about the Old Testament to catch his illustrations and his illusions to his identity.

Sometimes that happens for pragmatic reasons; to avoid being forced into kingship, so to speak. Sometimes to test people to see how shallow is you’re seeking after me, but in this case he just plain says it, “‘I who speak to you am He,'” and who does he say that to? This sinful Samaritan woman whose life is a train wreck combined with a dumpster fire. He says that to her and if he would reveal himself to her, which sinner on planet earth is excluded just in virtue of his being a sinner, her being a sinner, or being from another part of the world, nobody. Nobody. Number five, Jesus interprets his actions in Samaria as doing the will of God. Look what he says in verses 27 to 30, “just then his disciples came back. They marveled that he was talking with a woman, but no one said, what do you seek or why are you talking with her?”

You know why they don’t ask? Because they don’t think he could possibly have any business with a Samaritan woman. They don’t ask, what are you trying to do there? Because they think, well, he, he couldn’t have an agenda. Does you know she’s a Samaritan woman, so she’s what off the list. They never ask. Verse 28, “so the woman left her water jar and went away into town and said to the people, ‘come see a man who told me all that I ever did.'” Imagine what that evangelistic meeting would have been like. Okay, you all know how bad I am. All the crowd goes, “mhm, we’ve been talking, mostly behind your back.” This prophet knew everything about that without ever having met me. He had supernatural knowledge. Come see a man who told me everything I ever did. He knows how bad I am and they follow her.

This accidental evangelist, they follow her and they meet the Lord. Verse 30, “they went out of the town and were coming to him.” Verse 31, “meanwhile, the disciples were urging him saying, ‘rabbi eat,’ but he said to them, ‘I have food to eat that you do not know about.’ So the disciples said to one another, ‘has anyone brought him something to eat?'” Watch this now, verse 34, “Jesus said to them, ‘my food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work,'” which means in context what I’m doing and talking to this woman is doing the will of God. I am talking to her because my heavenly father wants me to. This Samaritan woman is not out of bounds. I’m supposed to be talking to her. I am doing the will of my father who sent me to accomplish his work, including such people as these Samaritans,

Jesus interprets his actions in Samaria as doing the very will of God. Number six, Jesus sees the towns of Samaria as ripe for harvest. Look at verses 35 to 36, “‘do you not say that there are yet four months, then comes harvest? Look, look, I tell you, lift up your eyes and see that the fields are white for harvest.'” You know what they’re seeing? They’re watching the Samaritans come down. They’re actually, they’re coming from the towns and Jesus- ‘Look right there, that that’s the harvest.’ Look up and see this harvest already. “‘The one who reaps is receiving wages and gathering fruit for eternal life, so the sower and reaper may rejoice together.

People all over the world coming to Christ with super natural transformation and when it happens, you know that they’re part of the field that God would harvest. They’re part of the people that God would have in his kingdom. The Lord knows those who are his and his are all over the world. Number seven, Jesus describes the Samaritan woman as an accidental evangelist. Look at this verses 37 and 39, “‘for here in this case,'” right here in the instance you see disciples, verse 37, ‘”one sows and another reaps. I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor, others have labored.'” So for example, this woman, and you have entered into their labor. “‘Many Samaritans,'” here’s how you know, “‘many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony.'” He told me all that I ever did and he treats her as an accidental evangelist. She’s somebody who in her own halting, doubting way, went in there and said, I don’t think this guy’s the Christ, but we better check this out. And they do. They do,

And the harvest is reaped. Number eight, the Samaritans confess that Jesus is their savior. They do, verses 40 to 42, “so when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them.” Very important word in John’s gospel abiding staying, “and he stayed there two days.” Verse 41, “and many who believed- many more believed because of his word. 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 indeed the savior of the world.” They’re validating her. They’re saying, we, you know, you told us we ought to check this out. He might be the Christ, maybe not. Everything you said about him is true. We know he is indeed the savior of the world. Well, that’s an edgy thing, right?

If you weren’t a little bit surprised by the fact that he’s talking to a Samaritan woman, you’re not in the moment of John’s gospel. You already have all the spoiler alerts, like you get it already. But if you’re in the moment of John’s gospel, you should be thinking, “Okay, just like evangelizing Gentiles. What’s this going to be like? Can he say that? Is that okay for Jesus to do? Well, let’s find out what the heavenly father thinks about that. Is it okay for him to be talking to a sinful Samaritan woman and reaching people in Samaria?” Yes, it is. Look now at verses 43 to 54 very quickly, “after the two days he departed for Galilee, for Jesus himself had testified that a prophet has no honor in his hometown. So when he came to Galilee, the Galileans welcomed him,” -sort of, we’ll see. “Having seen,” and having been jazzed up, having been electrified, “by all that he had done in Jerusalem at the feast. For they too had gone to the feast,” and seen the pyrotechnics, right? Verse 46, “so he came again to Cana of Galilee, where he had made the water wine, and at Capernaum there was an official whose son was ill. When this man heard that Jesus had come from Judea and Galilee, he went to him and asked him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death. So Jesus said to him, ‘unless you see signs and wonders, you will not believe.'” You’ll just, you’ll just be kept airborne by the next miracle I do; by the next one I do, and the next one after that. But what, what happens when that faucet gets turned off? Will you still believe?

Or am I just a means to your ends? Verse 49, “the official said to him, ‘sir, come down before my child dies.’ Jesus said to him, ‘go, your son will live.’ The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and went on his way. As he was going down, his servants met him and told him that his son was recovering. So he asked them the hour when he began to get better and they said to him yesterday at the seventh hour, the fever left him. The father knew that was the hour when Jesus had said to him, ‘your son will live,’ and he himself believed and all his household, this was now the second sign that Jesus did when he had come from Judea to Galilee.” Jesus goes to the wrong place at the wrong time, talks to a very, very wrong person, as is everybody in this room, in the side of God. We’re wrong. We’re the wrong people if that’s what it is, and he offers her living water. So ask yourself this question today. Are you thirsty?

Do you want that living water, that power of God that summons people from death to life? This passage offers you tremendous hope. We should never get tired of hearing that gospel. The one who says to us, come sinner, come drink freely from the water of life and live forevermore. Let’s pray. Heavenly father, we praise you for your grace, your mercy, your kindness, even to wrong people such as we are. We confess our unworthiness, our astonishment at your love for such as us. And father, we pray that like this woman, we would in our own halting way, but nevertheless say to people, come see a man who told me all that I ever did. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.


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