Every one of us who are Christians are called to share the Good News of the Gospel, but it can feel intimidating to attempt to have a meaningful conversation with a loved one. Today on Truth for Life Weekend, we'll look at the example Jesus set when he transitioned a natural conversation into a life-altering event. Alistair Begg is teaching from John chapter 4.
Our focus in these days as a church family is upon the whole area of evangelism and particularly of reaching out to our friends and our relatives and our associates and our neighbors. For those of you who were present the last time, you will recall that we endeavored to set this conversation in its context, and we said that we would then go on to consider the conversation itself, which we now do. And we notice, first of all—indeed, we concluded with this last time—that when we consider this conversation, we see, first of all, that Jesus Christ began naturally.
The opening gambit there in verse 7 is a very straightforward beginning. He asks the lady for a drink, and by doing so, appeals to her sympathy. The response of the lady to this natural beginning was that she was struck by it.
It made an immediate impact upon her, because Jesus had crossed two barriers in particular. He had crossed the barrier of gender, insofar as it was unfamiliar for a man to speak to a woman in this kind of public context, and he had also crossed the barrier of race or of religion, given the fact that he was Jewish and this lady was herself a Samaritan. And so it is that his request for a drink of water is responded to by a question by the lady in verse 9, "'You're a Jew, and I'm a Samaritan woman.
How can you ask me for a drink?'" It is interesting that Jesus chooses not to launch into some kind of diatribe concerning this racial-religious distinction. Instead, having begun naturally, he then proceeds to arouse her curiosity. Now, by means of this approach, the Lord Jesus raises this whole discussion to a higher plane, and he begins to show the woman that while she assumes that she is in the position to provide what he needs, she's about to discover that she is in need of water, and she is speaking to the one who is the very fountainhead himself. She is speaking to the one who is able to supply her needs, which are far greater than the need of this gentleman, this stranger, who has initiated a conversation by requesting the favor that she would use her water pot to draw for him that quenching of his thirst. Now, if your Bible is open—and I hope it is—you will see that in verses 11 and 12, it becomes very clear that the lady is not following this in spiritual terms.
Now, we are not to be surprised, because this is the most normal reaction of people. Indeed, in the previous chapter in chapter 3, where he addresses Nicodemus, and he says to Nicodemus, You can never enter the kingdom of God or see the kingdom of God unless you're born again, Nicodemus responds in a very physical, natural way. He says, How can a man be born when he is old?
Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born? Jesus is speaking of spiritual life. Nicodemus is thinking of physical life. Here, Jesus is speaking of spiritual water. The lady is still thinking in physical terms, and that's why she introduces this question of her ancestors. Now, this is the second question that she's asked Jesus. The first question had to do with the Jews and the Samaritans, and he set it aside. Here comes the second question, Are you greater than our father Jacob who gave us this well? And he sets that aside.
Why? Because it's not the focus. It's not the issue. The issue is not about the difference between the Jews and the Samaritans. The issue is not about the history of this region, and particularly the issues of who Jacob was or what he did, and Jesus understands that.
And may I say to you in passing that if you are ever going to be effective in speaking to people about Jesus, it is imperative that we understand what the focus is. For there will be all kinds of questions that are interesting, all kinds of matters that may be discussed. They're not all irrelevant, they're not all insignificant, but if we're going to be straightforward about things, there is a time for everything.
There is a purpose to everything under heaven. And we need to learn when what is being expressed is something that we should follow up on and when we should set it aside and proceed with the main issue. And so, in verses 13 and 14, Jesus sets the issue further forward. He has begun naturally. He has aroused her curiosity. And now, here in verse 13, he addresses her longing for reality.
He addresses her deep desire for satisfaction. Everyone, says Jesus, who drinks this water will be thirsty again. 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. And how this must have registered in the mind of this lady, because it clearly spoke of something more significant than simply the fact that there was a possibility of getting a drink of water and you wouldn't be thirsty again.
The lady was bright enough to understand that it was something more than this. Indeed, she may well have known the Scriptures well enough to recognize that they were full of this kind of water terminology. It appealed to the longing of their lives. And Jeremiah does the exact same thing.
Indeed, Jeremiah has this amazing picture. He speaks of those who have forsaken the spring of living water and have dug out their own cisterns, broken cisterns, he says, which cannot hold water. You can read that in Jeremiah 2.13. A classic picture of modern man in need of satisfaction, forsaking the only source of living water and going about to dig wells of their own discovery, and then to sink down into the well these cisterns which they hope will contain the answers to their satisfaction, only to discover that the cisterns fracture and they rupture and they break.
There are men and women this morning all over the city of Cleveland who have awakened to another Sunday without purpose. They have that deep sense of the human predicament, a nameless, unsatisfied longing, a discontentedness, a thirst. And so they run around to dig their own wells, only to find that they are inadequate and that they cannot satisfy. And when you read through the whole of the Bible, you discover that it is full of this kind of reference.
By the time you get to the last book in the Bible, Jesus is described as the Lamb who is the shepherd who leads the people to the springs of living water. And here's this lady whose life has been marked day after day after day by water. And here on this normal day, she encounters an abnormal situation in which this extraordinary man speaks to her about the thing she thought she knows everything about. Because if she knows one thing, she knows how to draw water. And Jesus says to her, appealing to her deep sense of longing for satisfaction, I can give you water, and you will never thirst again. Now, you would think that as a result of this, the lady would suddenly have fastened on to it.
Not so. Look at verse 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. Jesus speaks in spiritual terms. The lady responds in physical terms. Her concern and her focus is with her own personal convenience.
It sure would be nice not to have to make this journey every day, she says. How, loved ones, do you see what's happening here? This lady is like so many of our friends and our relatives and like, in some cases, ourselves as we sit here this morning as strangers to the life of God. We have sat now regularly in worship, and everything's spiritual we respond to in physical terms. We have decided that we are interested in preserving religious exercises in an irreligious world, and we have determined that somehow if we only do it correctly, it will deal with the deepest longings of our lives, and it doesn't. We have thought mistakenly that simply to be interested in these external affairs will suddenly transform our lives, and it hasn't. And we're dead to the truth of God's Word. You see, that is the picture of man's life outside of Christ. It is not that we are naturally open to these things. It is not that we have a common, shared desire for this to be true. The fact is that when people speak concerning the realities of spiritual life, we're totally dead to it.
So what is necessary? He began naturally. He aroused her curiosity. He appealed to her deep sense of dissatisfaction. Now, notice that verse 16 is the pivotal statement of this whole conversation, whereby Jesus appeals to her conscience. Having responded again in physical terms, Jesus said to her, "'Go call your husband and come back.'" You see, if there was going to be any transformation in the life of this lady, she was going to have to face up to who she was. It wasn't going to be enough for her just to have a sense of wanting satisfaction.
She needed to be brought face to face with her sin. And that, you see, loved ones, is why it is so important that the Bible is proclaimed in all of its fullness. Because if the message of the gospel is diluted to the point where it simply goes like this, here is good news of living water. Would you like living water? Stand up and take some living water.
Then the person may assume that this water is available without any consideration of who they are or of what they've done or the significance of what price was paid in order to provide the water. And the missing link is that they have never known the reality of Jesus, because they have never seen the necessity of Jesus. Jesus seemed like a good idea. Jesus seemed like a fairly okay way to approach life. But you see, the Lord Jesus understood that if this lady was ever to become his follower, she was going to have to face her true predicament.
Let me tell you this. Genuine Christian experience demands this. Genuine Christian experience of knowing Jesus as Savior begins when my life is awakened to my need of God as a result of seeing the fact of my sin. I just saw on CBCN or CBNC or whatever it is a couple of advertising executives who have joined together on a huge worldwide project, and as they sat there and spoke, and they were interviewed, they said again and again and again, the way to be effective with people is to find out what it is they want and then give them what they want.
If you try and do it any other way, you'll never manage it. And I said, There we are. That is why the church is where it is today. Because it has decided that the advertising agents know better than the Holy Spirit of God.
So what we're supposed to do is go out and find out what people want and then give them what they want. Well, where in the world can you proclaim any message of sin in that context? Did you have anybody that you ever met who wanted to be confronted with the fact of their sin and their emptiness and their bereftness of God?
Never in your life. So you've got two options. Either you're going to be biblical, which will have a different kind of effect, or you can be unbiblical, and you can fill this place five times over on a Sunday morning. You see, in verse 16, Jesus asks her to do something that she couldn't do. How could she go and call her husband and come back?
She didn't have a husband to go and call and come back. Now, this approach of Jesus is standard. If you turn back for a moment into Luke's Gospel, let me just show this to you. Luke chapter 10 and verse 28. Jesus continually asked people to do what they couldn't do. Which is contrary to what we always say, Jesus will never ask you to do something that you can't do, right? It's one of our little evangelical clichés.
Yes, he will. Luke chapter 10 and verse 28. This guy who's a big expert in the law was planning on testing Jesus to see if Jesus knew as much as he did, and he asked the question, verse 25 of Luke 10, What must I do to inherit eternal life?
What is written in the law? Jesus replied, How do you read it? He answered, Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself. You have answered correctly, Jesus replied, Do this, and you will live. What?
Love the Lord my God with all my heart, all my soul, all my mind, all my strength, love my neighbor as myself, and I will live. I can't. I can't. That's right. But do you know how many people are in church this morning all across Cleveland, and they think they can? And that's their whole horrible existence. What a horrible religious experience! To have misunderstood what Jesus is saying and to try and do what he said you can't do. So they're out pulling up their socks, sharpening up their spiritual knives, and getting about the business of trying to do their best. Jesus says, Do this, and you will live.
The man had the opportunity to say, I can't do this. And Jesus would then have said, Let me explain the way to heaven. Instead, the man trying to justify himself said, He who is my neighbor. So Jesus then told them the parable of the good Samaritan to try and help it to dawn on him.
Anybody here this morning? And you haven't realized that God has asked you to do something you can't do? If you turn forward to Luke chapter 18, the rich young ruler asking the same question?
This guy would have been a deacon in most of our churches just because he asked this question. Luke 18, a certain ruler asked him, Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life? Jesus said, You know the commandments. Don't commit adultery, don't murder, don't steal, don't give false testimony, honor your father and mother. And the guy says, All these I've kept since I was a boy. Pretty good.
Better than me, that's for sure. So Jesus put his finger on the one thing he couldn't do. He said, Sell everything you have and give it to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.
Why did he say that? Because he knew that the man loved his possessions with an unholy love. And until the man was prepared to face the fact that he was in love with his possessions, he was committed to that. That was the apex of his selfishness and of his sin. And until he was prepared to relinquish that, he could never follow Jesus Christ. And as long as a man is here this morning saying, I'm a religious man, and I can do my best, you will never know Christ as Savior.
As long as I believe that I can do all of these things and earn my way, there is no possibility. And so I was with the woman. The fact that she can't go and call her husband causes her to face the fact that her life, up until this point, has been wretched, it has been sordid, and it has been frankly immoral. She didn't want to talk about husbands. She was prepared to talk about Gerizim, Samaritans, Jacobs, Wells, Water, all of that jazz. The one question she did not want to face was the husband question.
Why? Because the husband question said, Lady, you've got a major problem. Now, what a wealth of expression is contained in the four words of verse 17. "'I have no husband,' she replied." That was the lady's confession of her guilt and of her sin. And Jesus, instead of wringing out of her as the Pharisees would like to have done her further testimony to her failures and to the treasured nature of her checkered past, Jesus recognizing that these four words cost the lady everything to say, I have no husband. And Jesus says, You know what? You're telling the truth.
You're saying the right thing. And he completes her confession for her. He doesn't make her squeeze it out of her own mouth. He is gentle. He is gracious.
He is kind. But you see, when we start to offer Jesus to people as gentle and gracious and kind, until men and women have been brought to see the nature of their sin, the message is kind of a triviality, especially to a modern man. I don't like this gentle Jesus. I don't like this meek Jesus. I don't like this pale Galilean figure. But, Mr. Businessman, the day that you are prepared to look down into the dust and to say, I have no wife, or to say, I am consumed with myself, or to acknowledge my emptiness before God, then this gentle Jesus will become a wonder to you.
Loved ones, understand it clearly. There is no kinder shepherd. There is no salvation for sin, save in this Christ. There is no freedom from guilt.
There is no place a man or woman may go to bring their checkered past. There is no way that a teenager may start all over again, save here in the embrace of this Jesus. And that's what excites me about going out into these highways and byways. That's the wonderful thing, that there is a great message of good news in this same Christ, for the love of God is broader than the measures of man's mind, and the heart of the eternal is most wonderfully kind. The lady hasn't grasped the total picture, but she's making progress. Verse 19, she's realized that this is no ordinary man.
She says, I can see you are a prophet. And then most of the commentary suggests that what we have in verse 20 is a digression. She's trying to avoid what is going on.
I've thought that for the longest time, until this last two weeks or so, as I've studied this again and again. I've changed my mind. I don't think she's avoiding anything here.
I think what she's saying in this is she's acknowledging her guilt. I've got no husband. I am a sinner. I need to be cleansed. I know that cleansing demands sacrifice.
I know that as a result of sacrifice there is an atonement for sin. Now, I need to know, should I go up to Gerethim, or should I go down to Jerusalem? Because I need to be cleansed. Jesus, where's the right place? And here comes the wonderful news. Hey, you don't have to go up the hill to the mountain.
You don't have to go down to the temple. You don't have to wait for tomorrow. But right now, today is the day of salvation.
Now is the accepted time. Now you may believe in me. You may trust in me and in what I am about to do. And your guilt may be cleansed, and your sin may be forgiven, and your life may be transformed. And having helped her with her confession of sin, he now helps her with her confession of faith. The woman says, I know that the Messiah called Christ is coming, and when he comes he will explain everything to us.
And then here we have one of the most fantastic little bits of the whole Bible. In two words, ego, I me. I am he. Jesus declares himself in a way that he hasn't done to anyone else. He reveals himself to an obscure, nameless woman. At point-blank range, he tells her who he is. He says to her, Hey, you say the Messiah will announce all things, and you're right, because I'm the Messiah, and I'm announcing to you what you need to know. And then it's at that point, you will notice, in verse 27, that the disciples return. How providential that Jesus was able to reach that point before these blustering buffoons came back!
You can just imagine them coming down the road, barging and shouting and arguing with one another as they were so prone to do. No, I'm giving him the lunch! I bought the lunch! I'm giving him the lunch!
No, you gave him the lunch yesterday! Little did they know he didn't even want the lunch by this time, because he had food to eat they didn't know anything about, and his focus was above, and theirs was on the earth. The application of what we just discovered follows, and we'll come to that. But for now, he who has ears to hear, she who has ears to hear, let them hear what the Spirit of God is saying to the church. The Gospel holds essentially no appeal until someone realizes their need for a Savior. You're listening to Truth for Life Weekend, that is Alistair Begg walking us through Jesus gentle but bold approach to sharing God's truth. If you'd like to talk to others about Jesus but you don't know where to start, visit the Learn More page on our website. You'll find a couple of brief videos that are perfect to download and share with friends, or just watch them to get tips for how to talk to others.
You can watch or share one or both videos as often as you'd like. Just visit truthforlife.org slash learn more. We share our faith by what we do as well as by what we say. In John's Gospel, Jesus says believers are to worship in spirit and truth. So what should this look like within the framework of a local church? We want to recommend to you today a book titled Corporate Worship that answers this question by exploring who should gather, what we should do when we gather, and how we should participate individually. This is a book that describes a church as both a family of believers and as an outpost for the kingdom of heaven. Our local churches are a foretaste of eternity where God's people worship him with one united voice. You can learn more about the book Corporate Worship when you visit our website at truthforlife.org.
I'm Bob Lapine. It's one thing to hear about Jesus' approach to sharing the Gospel. It's another thing to put that into practice. Next weekend we'll learn some tips to help us do just that. The Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life where the Learning is for Living.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-01-21 08:35:24 / 2023-01-21 08:44:41 / 9