Sermon – November 25, 2018

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John 4:1-27 – How the Gospel is Spread (mp3)

There are many famous passages in the Gospel of John. The raising of Lazarus, the miracle of wine at Cana; but perhaps the most famous story in the gospel is Jesus meeting with the woman at the well. This passage is rich and deserves more detailed look than one sermon can provide. Today, we will start our several week study in this important passage with a brief overview. In this passage, Jesus shows us how the gospel spreads. By doing so, John provides us with another profound example of how to evangelize, while at the same time reminding us of some very important truths about the gospel. So, how is the gospel spread?

1. Without distractions
Distractions are wonderful at keeping people from hearing the gospel. Perhaps it is just luck (it’s certainly not), but Jesus is able to speak to the Samaritan women all alone, no disciples to interject questions and no others to distract from the matter at hand. The distractions of the world often keep people from following Christ (see Matt 13:22), so limiting our own distractions in worship, and in evangelism, is important.

2. Among the unlikely
The Samaritan women is quite an unlikely person to whom Jesus might present the gospel. The Samaritans were quite unliked by the Jews, and with her being a woman, she was doubly unlikely to hear a kind word from Jesus. Nevertheless, Jesus persists. Never make assumptions on a person’s response to the gospel based upon what you can see; give allowance for the Spirit to work on those to whom you give the gospel, and trust in him to work in even the hardest of hearts.

3. With revised expectations
The woman consistently misunderstands what Jesus is trying to give to her. While Jesus is talking about nothing less than eternal life with God the Father, the woman thinks that Jesus is speaking merely about earthly, liquid water. We often desire only what our eyes can see, and think only about the most present needs and wants that we have. But Jesus always offers us more. Don’t be hoodwinked by the world – this place has many nice things but nothing that compares with what Jesus offers. Let us try to continually present to others the greatness of what the gospel offers, and allow the present things that we chase after lose their glimmer.

4. By dealing with sins
Finally, she asks Jesus for his life-giving water; Jesus has her where he wants, yet he presses her about her sin! Why not just bow your head and pray? Because the gospel is meant to deal with sins. She needs life giving water because her soul has left her desert-dry. The promise of the gospel loses its meaning without it being able to deal with sins. The gospel always deals with our sins.

5. Centering on worship
Jesus tells us that we must worship in Spirit and truth. Worshiping in Spirit means, at the very least, that our physical presence isn’t the defining characteristic of our worship. Simply showing up is not enough. We must be worshiping God with our hearts, minds, and souls. But it must also mean that we must have the Spirit of God working in us, making us new again and driving us to love God. More than that, while the Samaritan woman worships what she doesn’t know, we must worship what we know. We preach doctrine, not because it simply separates us from others, but because it is how we worship in truth!

6. Focusing on Jesus
Lastly, we need to always focus on Jesus. If any of the above is true, it must be true only because Jesus has come and done what he has promised to do. Jesus is all we have, all we need, and he gives us everything. Let us always focus on Jesus.