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The woman at the well in John 4 provides a contrast to the story of Jesus' meeting with Nicodemus, an educated, religious, Jewish male. Juxtaposing Jesus' encounter with an uneducated, pagan Gentile woman, John teaches us that no works, however good, can earn God's favor. And no one, no matter how far removed from God, can ever be disqualified as a recipient of His love and grace.
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Do You Want to Get Well? Here's Your Man and Here's How.
From Confusion to Crisis to Clarity to Completion: The Progression from Christlessness to Contagious Faith
What Worshiping in Spirit and Truth Means for Disciples and the Harvest
The Woman at the Well: A Picture of Grace, a Picture of Us
It's the Relationship, Stupid: The Right Well for Your Bucket
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Turn to John 4. I have often said that my favorite book in Scripture is the book that I'm studying. I've always meant that. In fact, it's funny. A number of you guys are going back and taking advantage of the resources on Watermark Radio, and y'all tell me, "Wagner, you said Proverbs was your favorite book. You said Colossians was your favorite book. You said Malachi was your favorite book. Now you're telling us every week that John's your favorite book."
Well, I will tell you. I'm going to go further. I think my favorite passage in my favorite book is not just the book I'm studying. It's the passage in that book that I'm studying. I have been familiar with this passage for a long time. In fact, all I have to say to most folks, even if they're not a very theologically informed person, if you're biblically illiterate, is the word prodigal means something to you.
It is the paragon of the love of God and the lostness of man and God's effort to bring us back to him. The same is true of the women at the well. She is the female paragon of God's love for the lost. I've been very familiar with it myself for a long time. I have to be honest with you. I have never studied this section like I did this week.
So if you are like me, you're going to see all kinds of great truth in this passage. Stuff that I, frankly, had never noticed in a cursory reading. But as I sat down and looked at it and took advantage of others who have looked at it longer than I have, and prayed, there's some great stuff here. I'm going to give you what I would call lower‑shelf cookie stuff. The stuff that you read the first time, the stuff we all get, that you can just grab if you're 2 years old. Then I'm going to show you some stuff that you go, "My goodness. I had no idea."
One of the things you need to know about John is that John is very theological in his presentation. There are seven works or signs that are in the book of John. There are seven major discourages in the book of John. There are the "I am" statements in the book of John. All of these are very systematically put in place. In fact, John at the end, says, "I chose the things I chose for a very specific purpose. They were there to show you who this Christ is."
We spent I don't know how many weeks just on the first 18 verses, which were the prologue before John even got into who this Jesus was. It was like he said, "I don't want you to miss what you're about to read." I want to let you know that you're going to see that no only is there bottom‑shelf face value blessing and encouragement for us here in John 4, but there is some deep theological stuff that ties your Scripture together.
If you want to know your Bible, you have to understand Genesis 12:1-3 because it is the Abrahamic covenant. It's where God promises to Abraham and his descendants that he will give them a land, he will give them descendants, and he will give them, specifically, one day a descendant that all the world would be then blessed through.
"That you, in fact, Abraham, are going to be the father of faith, and through you, through no good work of your own, I chose you. You are a polytheist and a worshiper of false Gods, like everybody else, but I'm going to reveal myself through you. The relationship I have with you is going to be a means through which everyone in the world will long for a relationship with a God like me."
Ever since that time in Genesis 12, God has been constantly refining Abraham and his people, even as today he's refining the church, because the folks in this world are not going to be attracted to God if it doesn't look like we're very well-married. If we look like we resent the one that we're yoked with, if we look like there's not joy with our bridegroom, then they're going to not want to get married. They're going to want to continue to live unfaithful lives, sleeping with different gods on Lower Greenville every other weekend, hoping to find one who will eventually satisfy them.
If they see us not drinking of a well of living water, then they're going to keep throwing their buckets in all the places that we throw our buckets. But if we, in fact, have had our soul thirst satisfied, they're going to want to know from the well with which we drink. If we are defiled and unclean people, then it will not be obvious to them that we serve a holy and good God.
So all this great truth from Genesis 12 and on forward is God is accomplishing his promises to Abraham. They're going to find their climax in this story in many ways. A number of weeks ago, we spent a whole week studying John 3:16. "For God so loved the world… that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal [zōē] life." Not everlasting bios. We'll have everlasting biological life. We'll live forever. There is a bodily resurrection of the dead, but God is concerned with you having life indeed.
That's why I said in my prayer today, "Eternal life starts now." We live differently. We have joy and hope and peace. We are no longer throwing our buckets down the wrong well looking for something that will satisfy us for a fleeting moment only to thirst again. We are not Mickey Gilley's subject. We are not looking for love in all the wrong places anymore. We have found it. We have found love, and we are satisfied. That's who we are as his people.
Let me show you this again. In John 3, we had the story of Nicodemus. A lot of us heard the story of Nicodemus, and we have this educated, Jewish, moral male. You maybe fancied yourself as a seeker like Nicodemus, who maybe didn't have a full understanding, but you do identify with Nicodemus.
Let me just tell you something. Very few of us can truly identify with Nicodemus. He was a religious man's religious man. The question about Nicodemus was, "Nicodemus, why don't you get what you need?" Nicodemus was shown and was there in John 3 to show us that even a religious man is not religious enough. He needs to be made new. He needs to be a recipient of something that he didn't know he needed, which was grace.
He was the example that answers the question of, "How good is good enough?" The answer is not Nicodemus, not Pharisees, not Paul, not devout, devoted, zealous observers of things. They are not good enough. You have an educated, moral Jewish male in John 3. John 3:16, "God loves the world, not just Jews, not just men, not just the moral, not just the educated."
John 4, you have an immoral, unlearned female Gentile. What you're going to see is that God loves her. The question about Nicodemus was, "How good is good enough?" You can't be good enough because God's standard is perfection. You must be holy as he is holy. "So you need grace, Nicodemus, for by grace you have been saved through faith. That not of yourselves. It is a gift of God. Not as a result of works so that no man should boast."
Then we go over here, and we have the women at the well. Among an immoral people, she is a star. She is a harlot's harlot. She is a broken person's broken person. She is a gal who you can look in the mirror and feel good about yourself. The question with her is how bad is so bad that God won't love you? The answer is there is no wicked so wicked that God is not willing to save. There is no so good that can save itself, and there is no wicked so wicked that you cannot find hope in this Jesus. Let's take a look at this passage. This is great stuff. Here we go.
John 4:1: " Therefore when the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John (although Jesus Himself was not baptizing…" We do Baptism services all year long but big ones once or sometimes twice a year. Folks sometimes go, "Todd, will you baptize me?" I'm like, "I'm happy to if there's a reason for me to be involved in that, but the fact that we would be excited that one individual would baptize us more than the fact that we'd be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ is a concern."
Paul said, "I'm glad I didn't baptize any of you." He didn't say, "I'm glad none of you got baptized," because that's why he was here. Paul's saying, "Don't you go around talking about who baptized you. You go around celebrating who you've been identified with. It's Jesus. It's not who was the human means through which you celebrated that moment in an outward expression of an inward faith."
I'm always reticent to get involved with a baptism, but sometimes folks say, "This is why. We have this relationship." Or maybe it was somebody that I myself engaged, like Jesus engaged the woman at the well, and I'm thrilled to be involved. But Jesus says, "I'm not going to do that. I'm just not going to be the guy so folks don't walk around in the way that broken humans often do, saying, 'Let me just you who I was. I was baptized by Jesus, so step aside.'"
Jesus wasn't doing that, but what you also find here is that Jesus, it says here in John 4:3, " He left Judea and went away again into Galilee." The reason he did is because there was this little stirring up, this conflict, that was going on with John's disciples. They were seeing the decrease in popularity of John. Again, what we studied last week with John was his great humility. "That is great with me," John said. "I've always been about him. I am here to prepare the way, clear the way, and get out of the way."
But again, insecure men, the Pharisees were still having a hard time with this once and for all identification with purity. They had this continual cleansing. Jesus wasn't ready for a confrontation with the Pharisees. It wasn't his time yet, it says in John a little bit later. He certainly wasn't looking for there to be a division in the issue of repentance. So he moved on his way.
What I love about this in verse 4 is this statement where Jesus said, "Let's go." It says, "And He had to pass through Samaria." Why did Jesus have to pass through Samaria? Let me throw this out very quickly. It is really helpful to have a basic framework for geography when you read your Bible. There are maps in the backs of all your Bibles. It is good to take a look at those periodically and really try and get a framework.
Let me first walk you through without any visual aid, and then I will give you a visual aid to help you understand this. It's very easy. In fact, on your notes section, if you want to draw a circle about the size of a nickel up top of your paper, that represents the Sea of Galilee. If you just drive a line straight down, and then you draw a circle about the size of a half-dollar, that would be the Dead Sea. That line down the middle is the Jordan.
On the left side of your paper, make a backward C. What you have right there are all the bodies of water that represent your New Testament geography. Up top, you have the nickel, which is the Sea of Galilee. You have the Jordan River coming down dumping into the Dead Sea. On your left, that backward C represents the Mediterranean Sea.
When you read the newspaper today about the West Bank, it's very confusing. We know when we look at a piece of paper right there, on the left is the west side, but the West Bank is really the west bank of the Jordan, not the west bank of the nation of Israel. If you look at that little line going down, that's the Jordan River. Everything between the Jordan River over to the Mediterranean Sea is what is Palestine today or modern-day Israel. The West Bank they're fighting over is that section on the left side of the Jordan River. So it's the east part of Israel, which is kind of confusing.
Why do I say all this? Well, because Israel is also broken up into three major regions. Up north by the Sea of Galilee (they've made it easy for us), it's called Galilee. Down south by the Red Sea, just off the top left-hand side of your silver-dollar piece, is Jerusalem. That area around Jerusalem is called Judea. Between Galilee and Judea, there is some area between that. That's Samaria. That's how you can remember it. Easy. Galilee by the Sea of Galilee, Jerusalem, Judea, some area between them is where Samaria is.
Look at the map real quick. You guys just learned more geography than you did in all of elementary school and junior high. There you see it. You see up north where it says, "Capernaum"? That's Galilee. You see down south, Judea. In the middle there is Samaria. Sychar is the city that we're going to focusing on today.
There are two lines there that you see. One is the red line that it said Jesus had to pass through. The green line represents what's called the Transjordan highway because they would cross the Jordan over into Perea which is that section on the right. They would cross over, and they would go on that Transjordan highway. Why? They did not want to walk through Samaria. Every now and then, they would go left, if you will, over toward the Mediterranean Sea, and they would walk up what's called the Via Maris (the way of the sea).
A good Jew never, ever walked through Samaria because Samaritans were a remnant of a godless people. A Jew never even wanted to be near a Samaritan. They would knock the dust off their sandals if they got mistakenly in Samaritan soil. It is said to drink the water from the well of a Samaritan or if you were to eat the bread of a Samaritan is to eat swine's flesh (rather unkosher). You didn't jack with a Samaritan if you were a Jew.
Jesus said, "I have to go to Samaria." Why? "Because I want to tell the world who I am. I want to show them who God is. I am the visible image of the invisible God. My nature and my character demand that I don't live by cultural norms and prejudices. I don't live by traditions of broken, fallen men who have perverted and misunderstood. I don't drink out of just white Caucasian drinking fountains and use white toilets and pools. No."
I'll tell you what. The church of America in the 50s and 60s… Did we ever miss it? Did we ever miss it when we would go to our little churches, especially in the South, and we would segregate ourselves. Not because it's normal for folks to gather in cultural circles. I'm talking about not just even on Sunday morning. I'm talking about during the week when we said, "That pool isn't for you. That drinking fountain is not for you. That bus, if you're on it, these seats aren't for you."
Whenever culture and the Bible, whenever the character of God and the culture of man collide, it is the culture of man that must go. That includes, by the way, working the other direction. When the culture of man is, "We're going to let everybody be what they're going to be," God says, "No, we will not. We will let truth define what we will be. Truth and love." So when culture starts to say certain things about anybody doing anything and believing whatever they want, Jesus says, "Not so fast Samaritans."
Jesus does two things here. First of all, he tells the Jews, "I'm not going to let you define who the Samaritans are." He tells the Samaritans, "I'm not going to let you define who God is." When culture and truth collide. Jesus was making enemies here with everybody. "For God so loved the world that the world hated him," in fact, you could say. He was crashing through all our misperceptions.
"I have to set this right." Jesus steps up and speaks the truth in love. When you live this way, it is how you get nailed to a cross when you're 33. It's also how, when your image throws yourself up on a canvas some 2,000 years later, the world stands and applauds at just the image of you because they love you so much.
"I have to go through Samaria because the Samaritans are lost and confused without God and without hope in this world. I have to go through Samaria because those who have the conveyances of the promises of God have no clue how to love the way that the God they say they know loves." Good stuff. Verse 5.
"So He came to a city of Samaria called Sychar, near the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph; and Jacob's well was there. So Jesus, being wearied from His journey, was sitting thus by the well. It was about the sixth hour. There came a woman of Samaria to draw water."
All right. Lower shelf. Jesus is a man. Fully God. Fully man. He thirsted just like you thirsted. He gets weary just like you get weary. Hebrews says that he has been tempted in every way that you have been and yet without sin. We have a high priest who can sympathize with our weaknesses. Because he is God, he met the need that we all have.
He is never angry at us. He is never frustrated with us, but he understands. He has been tempted like we've been tempted. He has been whipped and worn out. He has been tested the way we've been tested. He has thought that God has forgotten him the way we thought God has forgotten us, and yet he endured to show you what men should do. He lived a perfect life. He knew no sin, but he became sin on our behalf, so the perfect, loving God, identifying with our brokenness, could make a payment for us that we could never pay. That is lower shelf.
Let me just throw this out. Sychar is an interesting city. Let me throw that map back up there and explain something to you very quickly. Israel, early on in its national history, had been a monarchy. It had been a one-king country. God wanted to be their King. He wanted it to be a theocracy, not a monarchy.
"Trust me. Let me be your King. We'll have servant leaders who are prophets, priests, and individuals who will lead you. But you don't need a king. A king is going to tax you. He's going to wear you out. He's going to take your daughters. He's going to take your possessions. Let me be your King."
But the people didn't want them, so God gave them a prophet to remind them of truth, a priest to reconcile them to him, and kings to help guide them. We have Saul. We have David. We have David's boy, Solomon. Solomon's son, Rehoboam, was a nut. He basically was insecure, and he did not fear and follow God because his daddy, for most of his life as he grew up, had wandered away from God.
Even though dad on his death bed said, "Let me go back and correct it. When I had it right as a young man and feared God… That's who you should be." Rehoboam said, "No, I think I'll try the way you lived from 20 to 60. I'll go after what you went after." So he double-taxed the people. Then what we have is two tribes when they settled into this land really were down in that area of Judea. The other 10 tribes which make up the 12 tribes of Israel were from that purple on up to the orange and the yellow and some of the other side in Perea, which is called Decapolis, which means 10 cities.
What you'll see over there is that those 10 tribes basically named their own king. A guy named Jeroboam. In this little time (930 BC), there was a split. What you have is the 10 tribes kept the name of the nation Israel, and the two tribes to the south took the name Judea. They were all Israel in God's eyes, but there was a split and divide. They warred with each other.
The king in the North knew, "If I let them go down south to worship where the temple is in Jerusalem, they're going to go back down there, and they're going to run into those folks that tell them, "You're not supposed to be worshiping up there with Jeroboam. You have to follow Rehoboam. Even though he's imperfect, he is the descendent of the godly Davidic line through which God said the Messiah and the hope would come in order to be unified.'"
What he did is he went back and with the help of some scholars, twisted some things in the Old Testament, changed some readings…I might show you later if we have time…and decided to make Shechem a place where they would go to worship and offer sacrifice. There were 19 kings in those little tribes in the South, and there were 20 in the North. There was never a good king of the 20 kings in the North. From Jeroboam all the way down, there was never a good king. God kept warning them through prophets.
Finally, he said, "All right, you're going to get yours." Then he raised up Assyria to come. Move down now. We're in world history that you can read outside your Bible. They swoop down, and they took those 10 tribes in the North captive right down to the Judean line. They were going to go all the way through, but Hezekiah (the righteous king of the South) said, "No. By the grace of God, will you protect us?" God that night went before them and did a miraculous work.
There was now an occupation in that northern area. That was a collection of individuals from many different nations, and they worshiped many different gods. They took a little bit once they got in there of what was left of Judaism. They worked it in with all the pagan worship that they had.
In fact, what happens when they first got there was there were little lions that were coming and consuming the people. They were like, "This is not a good place for us to live, king of Assyria. We don't know how to make peace with the God of this land." He sent back some Jewish priests who had been sent into exile to teach them a little bit about Judaism, but they never really embraced Jehovah and God as they should. That's what Samaria is represented by.
Now, in that little well by Sychar, that is very close to what was Shechem. Right there is that place where they would worship. You can see how far it is from Jerusalem. That well where we are is near the mountain that tribes in the North would go to worship at. Why do I say that? I'm going to tell you about the mountain in just a second, but let me go to the well.
This is about God pursuing his bride. Trivia question. Who was the very first Gentile to convert to follow Jesus Christ in the New Testament? Answer. The woman at the well. This is the mother of all of us, if you will. We can identify her. Not very many of you are educated and mortal. Less of you are male, and very few of us might be Jewish.
We really can't relate to Nicodemus. You might pride yourself that you could. Let me tell you who you can relate to. This immoral, untrained, godless non-Jew. That was all of us at one time. That's me. The female part, not so with me. But everything else, I recognize it. And this is the first woman.
Let me tell you what's significant about a well. If you go back and look and wells in Scripture, it's where Moses met Zipporah (his wife). It is where when Abraham wanted a wife for him, he sent his servant who went out and hung out by the well and found Rebekah. This is top-shelf stuff, all right?
I love Rebekah. In Genesis 24, this is what it says about Rebekah. If you're choosing a bride for the son of promise, what are you going to make her look like? You're going to make her look like Bo Derek. I've seen the ads. I guess to the day's age, it would be Brooklyn Decker. That's who. It says that Rebekah was very beautiful. She was a virgin. So drop your Bo and Brooklyn references from here on out. She, it says, was from a good family. Rebekah is exactly who you'd go get as a bride for a promised one.
A little bit later, the son of Isaac, Jacob, is looking for a wife. He's hanging out by a well, and here comes Rachel. Her name means little lamb (sweet, innocent, pure). It says she was stately in appearance, and her form was good stuff. If you're looking for a son for Jacob, he is very thankful when Rachel shows up. That's who you want.
Let me just show you something. God is not as a man who looks on the outside. When God himself is here looking for a bride, he gets a skank's skank. He gets a five-time loser who is still sleeping around. He says, "While you are yet a sinner, I will demonstrate my love for you. I don't see the brokenness. I see through you, and I see the beauty within. I see the remnant of my glory, and I want to restore it."
Do you want to be encouraged today? If you are here and you wonder if God would ever love you, take a look at this chick and go, "If he would choose her at that well, I have a chance." That is exactly the point. You have a chance.
Israel's men, God's men, always went a well to find a lady. But where does God go to find a lady? To the well. Who does he take? Not the pretty ones who came in the morning. In fact, if you were a distinguished woman of Samaria, you didn't even go to the well. Someone fetched that water for you.
But if you did have to go get your water from the well because you were from a good family, you did not go at noon. It is hot. It is a desert region. You are going to go in the morning or in the evening, but this woman is so ostracized. In fact, some people say she's not called aSamaritan woman. She is called the Samaritan woman. In other words, a pagan's pagan. He said, "Give me that one, and I'm going to show you what grace and love look like."
That's why he took Nicodemus. You give me the godliest of the godly, and I'll show you a guy who needs grace. You give me the skank of the skanks, and I'll show you who gets grace. They both needed it, and together they become the church. There is no distinction between Jew and Greek, male and female, barbarian and Scythian, but we are now all one in Jesus Christ. This is your Bible. God loves the world. Not just the Jewish world. Okay? He loves them.
He goes and gets this woman, and he says, "' Give Me a drink.' For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food." I love this. Again, this is the idea. I love this statement that Herbert Lockyer said. He said, "Jesus was often weary in His work, but never weary of it." I read that, and I go, "I can recognize that." I get really tired sometimes, but I never get tired of what I get to do.
I was sharing with some folks after I got done here speaking here Thursday morning. Within 25 minutes of getting done speaking to all our men here at Watermark… You would not believe the stories. I'm not kidding you. I wrote them down. There are loads of hurt and betrayal and shattered marriages and sons who are getting arraigned for possession and with intent to distribute. Wives who are in psych wards, women who have left their men.
I met a woman who was out here when I walked out who said, "My husband, Todd, who you know, who's now attending here, has divorced me four years ago. His abuse was so severe, he has no visitation rights." It was a guy I used to play ball with. I just kept vroom, vroom, vroom. You're like phew. You can sometimes get weary in the work, but never weary of it.
This weekend we have 70 families who hosted some 500-and-something kids. There were 130 volunteers who had been well into the early morning hosting different kids for our little DTown. We have a bunch of young adults who are weary in the work but not weary of it. We are a blessed people.
Last night at 3:55, my cellphone rang. My daughter in Chicago, Illinois, was up in a hotel with about four or five of her friends, up there on a little trip with her school, a little leadership retreat. I had texted her earlier in that day. "Having fun? Being a leader? Talking about Jesus?" She shot back, "Yes. Yes, and yes."
Then at 3:55 a.m., she blessed me with evidence. She calls me, and she says, "Dad, we're having a conversation. I'm here with these five people. I'm putting you on speakerphone. We have questions about assurance of salvation and eternal security." My wife's slobbering on the pillow. She has the flu. I get up, and I walk in the bathroom. Lord knows what theology I gave them at 4:00 a.m. My daughters probably going to come back a Mormon for all I know. But I did my darndest. At 4:15, I go back to bed, and here I am with you.
I said, "Here's the Scripture. Get your Gideon Bible out and start looking." I gave them about 12 verses, walked them through some understanding and some theory and some theology. I could hear those kids going, "I could do this all night." I go, "Well, you are, apparently. We will reconvene in Dallas." So we will. I get weary in the work, but not of it.
Jesus was like that. He goes on. He says right here. "'Give Me a drink'… Therefore the Samaritan woman said to Him, ' How is it that You, being a Jew, ask me for a drink…'" Watch what she does. Jesus is going to start by just engaging her. There's a little model here. Engage. What you're going to see a little bit later is he's going to be winsome.
He's going to create some curiosity. Then he's going to declare a hope to her, which is basically create a thirst, declare the goodness of God. Then he's going to allow conviction to take place, exhibit need, and then he's going to close the deal. But he engages her. Look at the way she starts.
She goes, "What are you doing, a Jew?" She knew Jews didn't like them, and especially Jewish males don't talk to Jewish women, much less Jews to Samaritans, much less a Jewish male to a Samaritan woman. "What are you doing, a Jew, asking me for a drink? For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans."
Jesus said, "Let me tell you something. I'm more than a Jew. Jews, though they're my people, have not yet become the right representation of who I am." Christ said to her, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, 'Give Me a drink,' you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water."
That is a reference to Jeremiah 2 (top-shelf stuff) where it says, "What is up with all my people who I have given my glory to." Even the Samaritans, when they moved to that land, God sent the Jewish priest back to tell them stuff. He says, "My people…" Really speaking specially about Israel, the ones who were driven out of the land. He said, "They've rejected me, the fountain of living waters, and then use for themselves cisterns," which is a well. "And not just cisterns, but broken cisterns that are unreliable, that hold no water."
Isaiah 55:1 says, "Come to the waters, you who thirst." Jesus is going right back to the Old Testament. He said, "If you knew who I was, you'd be asking me for a drink. So in a little winsome way, he's going to engage her. This woman who was so vile, she couldn't even go to the well in the morning because the women would scorn her. She was so lonely and filled with shame that she went in the middle of the day to get her water from a cistern (a 100-foot-deep well).
Jesus says, "I'll give you a spring. That's what living water is. It's water that moves. It's an endless source that keeps coming. Not just someplace that gathers water and gets stagnant and is unreliable because it cracks. He goes on. "You would say, 'Give me a drink,' if you knew who I was. I am the gift of God."
Let me say one more thing real quick. Sychar is Shechem. If you go back and you look at Joshua 8, Joshua's leaving the conquest into the land. He first defeated Jericho, and they were 1-0 as a people. Then they fought against Ai. They got beaten. Why? Because they had tainted themselves. They took stuff under the ban, and God was not going to be the tourist with an unholy people. So the folks repented. They found out where the problem was. They dealt with it. They wiped out Ai.
Then guess where they were? They were up there by Sychar. They were in the valley of decision, if you will. They were in this little swell of land between Mount Gerizim, which is here Jeroboam said this is where we're going to worship God in the north and not have to go down to Jerusalem, and Mount Ebal.
Watch this. Let's read Joshua 8:30 and following. "Then Joshua built an altar to the LORD…"
Where? Right by where this well is. "…the God of Israel, in Mount Ebal, just as Moses the servant of the LORD had commanded the sons of Israel, as it is written in the book of the law of Moses, an altar of uncut stones on which no man had wielded an iron tool; and they offered burnt offerings on it to the LORD, and sacrificed peace offerings.
He wrote there on the stones a copy of the law of Moses, which he had written, in the presence of the sons of Israel. All Israel with their elders and officers and their judges were standing on both sides of the ark before the Levitical priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD, the stranger as well as the native. Half of them stood in front of Mount Gerizim and half of them in front of Mount Ebal, just as Moses the servant of the LORD had given command at first to bless [them] ."
They read the law, and what the read was Deuteronomy 29 and 30, which is the Palestinian Covenant. It is God saying, "I have given you ownership of the land. That is unconditional promise. But occupancy of the land, Jews, is going to be conditional upon your being obedient to me. I will do what I need to do to make you obedient enough to get the land that you rightly own." Watch this.
In a valley where Jacob's well was, Sychar, Shechem, you have Gerizim on one side, Ebal on the other, and they read, "You walk with God, you'll be blessed. You reject God, you'll be cursed. What you do in that valley will determine your future." Guess what. Top shelf. "Woman, what you do in this valley, what you do with me…"
Right here, Israel, right here people of the world, just like Israel when God was giving them and offering them promise, what you do here with this Jesus, who is the fulfillment of the promise in Genesis 12, this will be your pivot point. So let me ask you, immoral, untrained Gentile? What are you going to do with this man by the well? If you humble yourself, acknowledge your need: blessing, living life, water. If you reject him and dig your own wells, drink your own water: death.
You'll get little glimpses of relief along the way, but six to twelve hours later, you will thirst again. Anything you drink is a stay of execution of your depression and your misery and your brokenness. Follow him. We are in the valley here of decision. What are you going to do with this Jesus?
"She said to Him, 'Sir, You have nothing to draw with and the well is deep; where then do You get that living water? You are not greater than our father Jacob, are You, who gave us the well, and drank of it himself and his sons and his cattle?'"
She completely missed it. She was not spiritually appraised. A friend of mine said, "When you first hear of the gospel and of grace and of holiness and of redemption and atonement and blood sacrifice to a perfect God man, it is like a dog whistle to a human. "I have no idea what you're talking about. Right over my head." Just like Nicodemus, "You must be born again." "Well, I'm going to crawl back in Mama's womb."
You're going to find out everybody is clueless that Jesus runs up against. It's like a dog whistle. But Jesus continues with me. You start talking about dead works, you start talking about religion, ritual, obligation, fear. We can reckon with that. You talk about reincarnation and holistic. We go, "All right. I can deal with humanism, but divine intervention and a broken humanity? Right over my head." Jesus doesn't give up. He keeps moving. He says this.
"Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life." Now she's interested. "The woman said to Him, 'Sir, give me this water, so I will not be thirsty nor come all the way here to draw.'""You have seduced me. I am now interested."
She really thinks there's going to be a personal, private well. This woman has been put off and put off. She goes, "All right. I don't want to come here in the middle of the day." By the way, a lot of folks, when they first start to move towards Christ, they move because they think there is really a promise of something happening right now that will make their lives easier.
There are a lot of guys who are here not to meet Christ but to meet chicks. There are chicks here, not to meet Christ but to get a man. There are folks here because they have this perverted theology that if they come and they're good enough for God, God might bless this business, make the debt go away. They'll meet some Christians who are compassionate and write them a check.
Not everybody who's here clues in yet what the real need is. The real need is not to get their own little private well for God to fit into their little definition. Jesus is going to continue on now, and now he has her curious. Now he's going to show her the real issue here. He is going to expose her. "He said to her, 'Go, call your husband and come here.'" I love this. "You go, and you come. Come here, and I will give you rest," is what he's saying. "I will give you joy and hope. I will give you peace. Come here, but go get your husband."
She goes. This is the shortest response she gives him. This is where she shuts down. This is what you call a buzz-kill. When Jesus says, "Go get your husband," she's like, "We were tracking there. You were fun to talk to. You were quick-witted. You were kind. You engaged me when no one else will, but now you're starting to meddle. I have no husband." Basically, she says this, "No husband. Me. I'm done talking."
That's when Jesus pulls back the veil a little bit on who he is, and he says (just like he said in John 2:25), "He didn't need anybody to tell him about man, for Jesus knew what was in the hearts of all men." We've already learned this about Jesus. He says there, "You have spoken rightly because you're now a five-time loser, and the guy you're living with right now isn't your man."
Top-shelf stuff, very quickly. I wish I had time to spend more time on it. You go back to 2 Kings 17. I'll read this to you. This good. Think of what's going on here. Your Bible is collapsing. This is God's effort to reveal. Second Kings 17 is where Assyria has already come and wiped out the northern tribes. Guess what? Those northern tribes up there, when they came, look what it says in 2 Kings 17:29-36.
"But every nation still made gods of its own and put them in the houses of the high places which the people of Samaria had made, every nation in their cities in which they lived." Watch this. Count them. "The men of Babylon made Succoth-benoth, the men of Cuth made Nergal, the men of Hamath made Ashima [that's three] , and the Avvites made Nibhaz and Tartak [that's four] ; and the Sepharvites burned their children in the fire to Adrammelech and Anammelech the gods of Sepharvaim [five] ."
"Hey Samaritans, you have all kinds of gods and religions and ways to find peace and hope in this land, and none of them have worked out for you. You are a hated people. You are alone. You are without God, without hope. You are immoral in this world. The gods you're worshiping now are no gods at all. You're not even very well wed to them."
Top-shelf stuff. This is a lesson to the world. You're moving right through Islam and Mormonism and atheism and pantheism and Buddhism and Hinduism and astral projectionism and UFOs and whatever else you move through, and you're still miserable. Psychobabble and who you're married to right now… Not a good husband either. Just acknowledge your brokenness, your immorality, your dry well.
She did, and she said, "I perceive you to be a prophet," which to a Samaritan woman was really… A Samaritan is a gal who believed in the Pentateuch. They believed in the first five books. They did not believe ultimately in the rest of the Old Testament because that talked about Jewish conquest and God working through them. The Samaritans didn't want to hear about Jewish conquest, so they cut off at Deuteronomy.
Deuteronomy does talk about the fact that when you're indecent, you get sent out in a marriage. This woman had been cast out again and again and again. This woman knew that she was not well, and secondly, she knew that there was (in Deuteronomy 18) one who was going to come who was a greater prophet than Moses. She said, "You might be that prophet because you know stuff you're not supposed to know."
I love this. "Jesus said to her, 'Woman, believe Me…'" He asked her to do what we should do. "Trust me." Watch this. Women, are you thirsty because you keep throwing your bucket down the wrong well. Jesus looks to you, and he says to you this. "Hey woman, trust me. Believe in me." He says, "An hour is coming when you're not going to worship anywhere."
What she does at this moment where she's convicted, "I perceive you to be a prophet." Now she throws out a theological diversion. That's what a lot of folks do when I talk to them. They go, "All right. Good, Todd. I know I am a sinner, but what about the un-evangelized heathen. What about the problem of evil. How do I know the Bible is God's word?" They throw out all these deals.
Jesus just moves right past that because she says, "You guys say we're supposed to worship down in Jerusalem. We say Gerizim is where we worship. This debate has been going on for a long time. Where does God want us to worship?" Jesus just goes right back there. "Let me tell you something, woman. That little mountain down there in Jerusalem? I gave that not for me. That was for folks because they needed a place to start to understand who I am, but I'm about done with the temple mount. Just like I'm done with up here in Gerizim. I don't really care about Gerizim or the temple mount."
Remember how he'd already cleansed that temple anyways and said, "This is no longer necessary because the perfect sacrifice is about to come"? He's saying, "Let's just skip who's right [the Samaritan or the Jew], and let me just point out what is right and true. An hour is coming and now is when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth. In other words, I'm not going to be concerned about where you do it; I'm going to be concerned about how you do it."
On earth, we often make a big deal out of location. In heaven, location is secondary at best. Secondly, on earth, our confusion is the object. In heaven, there is no confusion about the object that we are to worship. Thirdly, in heaven, there is no confusion about what makes worship worthy. It is worship, not done in a certain place a certain way. It is worship that changes everything when you don't just go sacrifice an animal or go and drop some money in or sing the right songs or even sign off on the right doctrinal statement.
Worship in spirit and truth is when you leave here and you humble yourself before each other and you repent and you say, "Do you know why our relationship is screwed up? Because I have a spiritual problem, and I can't forgive you and love you. The reason there is brokenness in our marriage is not because of you. It's because of the log in my own eye."
Worshiping in spirit and truth doesn't mean you're at Watermark with a good orthodox understanding of Scripture. You'll get it here, but I'll tell you something. If you sign off on good orthodoxy and you walk out of here and you don't love, if you don't do justice and love kindness and walk humbly with your Lord, it doesn't matter that you're at Watermark. It doesn't matter if you don't reorder your life.
Worshiping in spirit and truth is not what we're just about to finish here in the next few minutes. Worshiping in spirit and truth is what we do every week when I say, "Have a great week of worship." "Hey woman, let me just tell you. Don't worry about Gerizim. Don't worry about the Temple Mount. Worry about who you're to worship." I'm going to tell you the kind of worshipper the Father seeks. In 2 Chronicles 16:9, "For the eyes of the LORD move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His."
We don't know if you are here. I don't care if you've filled out your 4B form, and you certainly should. But if you fill out your 4B form, I don't know if you're giving to Watermark, and you certainly should. You may not know we're almost $9,000 behind right now on just the provision of this ministry over our annual deal. So folks think Watermark has all they need? You're wrong. God will take care of us. Whatever. But I would encourage you to be a part of it.
You might be giving already generously here. It doesn't matter if when you get out of here you don't do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with the Lord and say, "This isn't about my ease. This isn't about moving on to the next best man. This is about me loving. This about how I treat single women as a single man. This is how I use my discretionary time and the resources God has given me. That's the kind of worshiper the Father seeks.
I'll tell you who else God seeks. We're going to look at this completely next week. I'll just close with this. He looks for folks who love like he loved. This week I was reading this, and I was marveling again at Christ and the way he went after folks. I just thought, "I'm going to be a lot of places this week, so just give me the same engagement with lost folks, the same winsomeness, the same courage to use opportunities for you."
I got through praying that on (I think) Wednesday. Thirty minutes later, I'm at Tom Thumb checking out. I'm buying 10 gallons of Blue Bell ice cream: Neapolitan, Mocha Almond Fudge, Mint Chocolate Chip, Dutch Chocolate, Homemade Vanilla. I got it all. I got 10 different gallons. It was on sale. I'm checking out, and that lady looks at me, and she goes, "Whoa. Ice cream party at your house tonight." I go, "Ding," and I said to this little gal and who knows how many folks in this little Tom Thumb surrounded by churches, "Every day is a day worthy of a party. Don't you agree?"
She looks up at me and looks back down at the next gallon of Blue Bell going ding right through there. No response. Then maybe she thought she was rude, so she says, "So everybody gets their own flavor?" I go, "That's what I love about Blue Bell and ice cream. Everybody can have whatever flavor they want, but don't you agree that's what's wrong with the world? Everybody thinks they can choose whatever flavor of truth that they want?"
She looks up at me, and she's going, "Dude, it's been a long day. I'm just trying to ring up your ice cream." She didn't say anything, but that's what she looked at me and communicated. Again, there's a little winsomeness there. I'm jacking with her a little bit. So I thought, "Okay. I'll say something like this." I said, "It makes you want to come over to my house for the party, doesn't it? Get some ice cream?" She goes, "That would be kind of fun to have ice cream."
I said, "Let me go back to the first question. Do you have anything that would make you want to celebrate life every day?" She goes, "No." I said, "Let me just tell you what makes every day worth celebrating for me." In about 15 seconds, I shared with her a little bit about what is worth celebrating every day. I'm going to come back and finish this story next week because there are a couple of more elements to it, but let me just tell you this.
This little gal who probably hundreds of you in this room have checked out with her told me, "Nobody has ever told me that." People who worship in spirit and truth tell people that. They don't just applaud at paintings. They worship in spirit and truth. They declare the hope that has come, and this Jesus is the one who you must decide about if you want blessing or curse. It doesn't matter how nasty you've been little tattooed Tom Thumb salesclerk. He loves you. Come to him.
Father, I pray we would come and, having come, that we would do what this woman did. That we would go and we would tell all the other Samaritans that love has come. We thank you for this morning if there is a tattooed little hurting 20-year-old salesclerk in this room. Even though he might be 50, filled with wealth but still broken like her.
Would you not let him leave until he comes and dips his bucket in the well of Christ? Would you keep him here until he finds grace? The Nicodemuses and the skanks, the Gentile and the Jew, the male and the female, the Barbarian and the Scythian. May they know this Christ. May they come. May those who know you go, and in a winsome way, filled with grace and truth, say things that will bring others to hope. Thank you for Christ. May we worship him now. Amen.
You have a great week of worship. We'll see you.
Who was Jesus Christ? A mythical man created to give a false sense of comfort after we die? Some sort of character that enables us to justify our own choices while simultaneously giving us the power to judge others? Or was He something much bigger? God, in the flesh, walking and living among His creation. A sinless man who became the sacrifice for our sins. The Gospel of John is more than Christology 101. It is an invitation to a living and active faith in Jesus Christ. Come join us on this life-changing journey through the book of John: the story of Jesus Christ.