Digging Deeper | John 4

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So, the plan for this blog will be to have at least two weekly post’s.  One will be the preparing our heart’s for worship series, which I will try and post by Friday or Saturday. The other series that I plan on doing will be what I am calling digging deeper.  The preparing our heart’s for worship will be the first exposure to the passage that Mark will be preaching on, then Sunday afternoon will be the second as Mark digs into the text, then the third exposure to that same text will be my digging deeper post. The great Bible commentator Matthew Henry (1662-1714) wrote that we can lose the benefit of many sermons we hear. Which I know that this is all too true in my own life.  I have found myself deeply moved by a sermon on a Sunday and then by Monday morning I have nearly forgotten most of what the sermon was about.  So, my prayer is that this series will help us keep the benefit of Mark’s sermons, and force us back to the text and dig in deeper one more time.

With that said let’s dig deeper into John 4.  Mark started his sermon by actually discussing John chapter 3.  John 3 tells of the encounter that Jesus has with Nicodemus. Who was “a man of the Pharisees,…a ruler of the Jews.”  Mark then contrasted Nicodemus with the “woman from Samaria” from John chapter 4.  Pastor and author James Boice (1938-2000) says this about Nicodemus and the Samaritan woman: “It is difficult to imagine a greater contrast between two persons than the contrast between the important and sophisticated Nicodemus, this ruler of the Jews, and the simple Samaritan woman.  He was a Jew; she was a Samaritan.  He was a Pharisee; she belonged to no religious party.  He was a politician; she had no status whatever.  He was a scholar; she was uneducated.  He was highly moral; she was immoral.  He had a name; she is nameless.  He was a man; she was a woman.  He came at night, to protect his reputation; she, who had no reputation, came at noon. Nicodemus came seeking; the woman was sought by Jesus.  A great contrast.  Yet the point of the stories is that both the man and the woman needed the gospel and were welcome to it.”

Mark then jumped into John 4 and read a few verses then paused and reflected on verse 6: “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.” Mark focused our attention to the fact that Jesus was worn out and wearied from the journey.  We were reminded of the humility of the Lord Jesus.   John chapter 1 tells us that Jesus is both fully God (1:1 -‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God’) and fully man (1:14 -‘And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us’).  This is staggering humility.  J.I. Packer says this on the incarnation of the Lord Jesus: “The more you think about it, the more staggering it gets.”  James Boice taking us back to John 4 and the weariness of Jesus says: “What a picture of Jesus! Here was a Jesus who was not wearied merely by the heat. He could have stayed in the cooler area of the Jordan. Here was a Jesus who was wearied in his search for sinners and who had become thirsty seeking those to whom he was to offer the water of life.”

Mark read the next several verses and pointed out how the Jews and Samaritans hated each other.  It would be like if a Jew married a Nazi in Germany during the 1930’s and they had a child, that would be like the Samaritans in the days of Jesus.  Jesus crosses right over cultural barriers and strikes up a conversation with this Samaritan woman. The woman is surprised that Jesus strikes up a conversation with her.  The study notes in my Bible add this: “Many Jews viewed all Samaritans as ritually defiled. The woman did not expect Jesus to talk to her, let alone become ritually defiled by drinking from a Samaritan’s water pot. She does not know that Jesus cannot become ritually defiled; he sanctifies what he touches.” Jesus tells her about living water and she misunderstands Jesus, much like Nicodemus in John chapter 3 thought that new birth meant literally going back in your Mother’s womb, this woman thinks that the living water is actual water to drink.

Mark then quoted Matt Damon who won an Oscar at age 27.  After winning the Oscar he went home full of adrenaline and put the Oscar down and starred at it.  Reflecting back on this he says: “I suddenly had this kinda thing wash over me where I thought, imagine chasing that (the Oscar) and not getting it. And getting it finally in your eighties or your nineties with all of life behind you and realizing what an unbelievable waste… It can’t fill you up. If that’s a hole that you have, that won’t fill it.” Tom Brady in an interview a few years ago said something similar.  He has won multiple MVP awards and has won multiple super bowls. He makes millions of dollars a year and is married to a supermodel. He said in the interview: “Why do I have three super bowl rings and still think there is something greater out there for me?”

Michael Jordan recently asked: “How can I find peace away from the game of basketball?” Matt Smethurst brilliantly answers MJ’s question:

“Michael, you never had peace. Triumph and fame, yes, but not peace. James Naismith invented a game that brought you a sense of purpose, of value, of calm. But it was only that—a sense, a counterfeit of the real thing. You will never find life outside the game for the same reason you never found life in it. 

It’s not there.

The peace you seek isn’t available on a basketball court or a golf course but on a little hill outside Jerusalem. There, Yahweh incarnate hung in the place of sinners—wannabe Yahwehs like you and like me.”

St. Augustine says it so well in his famous quote: “You have formed us for Yourself, and our hearts are restless till they find rest in You.”

Mark reminded us of Jeremiah 2:12-13 that Jerry Ediger had read and discussed earlier in the service which says: “

“Be appalled, O heavens, at this; be shocked, be utterly desolate, declares the Lordfor my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.”

We have all done this.  We go to the broken cisterns of this world, like money, fame, cars, sports, a particular career, and on and on.  As James Boice says: “these will satisfy for a time, they will not do so permanently…Only Jesus Christ is able to satisfy you fully.”  As Blaise Pascal (1623-1662), the famous French mathematician and philosopher, said: “There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God the Creator, made known through Jesus Christ.”

The Samaritan woman in John 4 sought satisfaction in men and things have not gone well for her.  James Boice points out that up until this point (when Jesus asked her to call her husband) in the conversation nothing had really touched the woman deeply. Boice says: “Suddenly Jesus jolted her to her senses with a single sentence. It was not unkind; everything he said to the woman was kind. Still it was a sentence that must have hit the poor woman like a sudden slap in the face and at once have exposed her most serious failing and deep guilt. Jesus said: “Go, call your husband and come back” (v. 16). At once the woman was recalled to her failure. “I have no husband,” she said. She wanted to end that line of discussion as soon as possible.”

As Mark said Jesus shines the spotlight into her darkest cellar door when he says: “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband.”  She attempts to change the subject twice, but she knows that her deepest pain has been exposed before Jesus, who told her all that she ever did.

Mark pointed out that we as human beings have a deep desire to be both fully known and fully loved.  However, we are scared to be fully known because we think that people will not fully love us once they fully know us.  Jesus fully knows each and everyone of us just like he fully knew this Samaritan woman.  Hebrews 4:13 says: “And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” So, as we stand ‘naked and exposed’ before this Holy, Holy, Holy, God, how can we be fully loved? When we know ourselves to be guilty in His eyes, and we only deserve punishment.  The Bible answers in Romans 5:8: “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Mark spent several minutes reminding us of the glorious Gospel and the sufferings of the Lord Jesus.  John Piper speaks about the suffering of Jesus and says: “No one ever deserved suffering less, yet received so much…The only person in history who did not deserve to suffer, suffered most.  The great preacher Charles Spurgeon said: “He knew no sin;” mark that expression and treasure it up, and when you are thinking of your substitute, and see him hang bleeding upon the cross, think that you see written in those lines of blood written along his blessed body, “He knew no sin.”

I quoted James Boice earlier when he said: “Jesus…had become thirsty seeking those to whom he was to offer the water of life.” He adds: “On the same errand he would one day experience an even greater thirst on the cross.”  Another great preacher Adrian Rogers said: “The One who made all the oceans and rivers and fountains of water was parched with thirst as He died for you and me.”

When this Samaritan woman see’s that she is not only fully known, but fully loved by Jesus she leaves her water jar and heads into the town and stands on here soapbox and draws attention to herself and her past that she was so ashamed of before, and tells everyone to come to Jesus.  James Boice again adds: “The woman came for literal water…Christ had offered her living water. Now having found the water that alone satisfies the soul, the woman thinks no more of her water jar.”

So, if you have never tasted of this living water that Jesus Christ offers, come to him and drink.  As Revelation 22 says: “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.”

If you have already tasted of this living water, be reminded once again of the great love and great suffering that was required of the Lord Jesus to provide this living water to you.  James Boice says that we as believers: “should ask ourselves whether we have ever wearied ourselves in the pursuit of other men and women.  Have we ever become hot or uncomfortable trying to communicate the gospel to others?”  As the Apostle Paul says in 2nd Corinthians 5:14-15: “ For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.”

Photo by arborwood.

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