Good News People Circles
WOMAN AT THE WELL
Jesus and the disciples were traveling from the southern region of Israel to the northern region and they had to pass through a region called Samaria and stopped at a town called Sychar.
Jacob’s well was there and Jesus was tired from the journey, so he rested there at the well.
In the afternoon, which was an odd time to be getting water from the well—that was something most people did in the morning—a woman from Samaria came to get water.
Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” His disciples had gone into the city to buy food and he was alone. But, the woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?”
You have to understand what is happening here. Jews have no dealings with Samaritans. The prophet Amos prophesied about the Samaritans, saying:
Amos 4:1–2 (CSB) — Listen to this message, you cows of Bashan who are on the hill of Samaria, women who oppress the poor and crush the needy, who say to their masters, “Bring us something to drink.” The Lord God has sworn by his holiness: Look, the days are coming when you will be taken away with hooks, every last one of you with fishhooks.
The ‘Cows of Bashan’ are temple priestesses who served the gods of the Assyrians. The Lord had commanded the Israelites to remain a pure nation and not to mix with other nations, but the Samaritans made a treaty with Assyria which required that they intermix with them, and with that came the worship of other gods.
So, Amos prophesied that these priestesses, and likewise their gods, will be cast away with hooks.
The Samaritans were at odds with the Jews, because, the Samaritans claimed to follow Yahweh, the one true God, but they also wanted to worship other gods. And the Jews stuck to the commands of scripture, which says,
Exodus 20:2–3 (LEB) — I am Yahweh, your God…There shall be for you no other gods before me.
The Jews were terribly offended by the Samaritans because they knowingly, and intentionally denied the first and most important commandment, ‘Have no other gods!’
So, the woman is terribly confused because Jesus, a Jew, wants to get water from her, an unclean Samaritan woman.
When I’ve done missions trips in Latin America, they tell you, “Don’t drink anything that doesn’t come from a factory sealed bottle.” and, “Don’t eat anything that wasn’t prepared inside four walls.” Street food and water from the faucet will probably make you sick. It’s not clean enough for us to consume, coming from another country where we aren’t used to the local bacteria levels.
And that’s where this woman is at; she knows that she is unclean by Jesus’s standards, yet he asks her for a drink from the well.
But, then Jesus turns this into a teaching moment. He turns the tables on her. He says, “If you knew who I was and the gifts of God that I can give to you, you wouldn’t have hesitated to ask me for water.”
What a strange way to answer someone. Jesus said, “Give me a drink,” and then told her she should have responded by saying, “No, you give me a drink!”
And if she had responded in such a way, then Jesus says he would have given her—not just any water—but, living water.
But, she still doesn’t understand. She has no idea who Jesus is or what gifts of God he claims to have for her. She says, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water?”
But, Jesus dodges her question and goes for the heart. He says, “If you keep drinking from Jacob’s well, you’ll have to keep coming back because you will always get thirst, but the one who drinks the water I give will never be thirsty again.”
And this is like #thirsty kind of thirst, and she’s starting to understand that Jesus isn’t actually talking about water at all.
When someone says, #thirsty, they mean they have an uncontrollable desire that is never satiated. When people say thirsty as a slang word today they mean they have an uncontrollable sexual desire, and that’s not so far from the truth for this Samaritan woman. She has an uncontrollable thirst that she’s tried to satiate with many lovers, but Jesus tells her, “Come drink the living water and you will never be thirsty again.”
So she says, “Give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.”
But, Jesus isn’t done with his game yet. He tells her, “Go, call your husband, and bring him here.”
She says, “I have no husband.”
And Jesus says, “I know you have no husband, but you have had many husbands, and the one you have right now is not even your husband.”
She had, had many lovers and Jesus found her out, so she says, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet.” And that scared her. She’d been living an immoral life and now this stranger calls her out, but he didn’t do so to condemn her; Jesus said he came to her with the gifts of God and some sort of living water. She knows she thirsts, but Jesus says he can satisfy.
So, she tries to muster some kind of words of repentance, “Our fathers worshiped the gods on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” She was talking about the temple in Jerusalem that Solomon built to worship Yahweh, the one true God.
But, Jesus doesn’t care where she worships; Jesus cares who she worships.
So, Jesus says, “The time is coming when you won’t worship on this mountain or in Jerusalem. But, the time is coming when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him—AND THAT TIME IS NOW.
You can’t miss this! Jesus knows the woman’s heart and she has revealed her sin to him, but he doesn’t call her to repentance by saying STOP SINNING. He calls her to worship God the Father. And he says she ought to do that right now, the time is now. Jesus knows that the answer to every trial and struggle in life is to turn your eyes to the Father. The answer to addiction is to turn your eyes to the Father. The answer to sexual immorality is to turn your eyes to the Father. The answer to lies and deceit is to turn your eyes to the Father. The answer to secret sin and shame is to turn your eyes to the Father.
It’s a loyalty issue. The answer to the woman’s insatiable thirst is to stop worship in the gods in Bashan and to worship Yahweh God, in Spirit and in Truth.
“God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”
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.”
And Jesus said to her, “I who speak am he.”
And she believed. Something snapped in her. She forsook the gods of Assyria and bound herself in Spirit to the Father when she trusted Jesus’s words. Look at the immediate change that took place. We have no idea how long it took her to straighten out the mess with her multiple lovers, but Spirit enabled heart change was instantaneous.
The woman left her water jar. She wasn’t thirsty anymore. And she went back into town and said to her neighbors, “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” And the people went out of the town and were coming to him. And many believed in him because what the woman said when she testified, “He told me all that I ever did.”
And the people asked Jesus to stay with them, and he stayed there two days. And many more believed because of his words.
The Apostle Paul said,
Acts 17:24–27 (CSB) — The God who made the world…has made every nationality to live over the whole earth and has determined their appointed times and the boundaries of where they live. He did this so that they might seek God, and perhaps they might reach out and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.
The Samaritan woman had neighbors living in her town who were just as hurt and broken as she was, but she couldn’t do a thing about it. She had her own problems to deal with. But, when she found Jesus she had hope and she knew that to set her eyes on God would change everything. And even though nothing practical changed about her circumstances in the few moments that she spoke with Jesus, she intuitively knew that she had to tell her neighbors about Jesus—at least what she knew.
And you have neighbors who don’t know Jesus. You have people in your inner-circle who don’t know Jesus. Well, God has placed them in exactly the right place in history, they live exactly at the right time, and they live in exactly the right place, work in exactly the right workplaces, shop in the exact right marketplaces, that they might seek God, and perhaps reach out and find him. And this profound statement of Paul cannot be ignored, “He is not far from each one of us.”
Listen, Jesus is not far from your neighbors, because you know Jesus. Let that sink in. Jesus put people in your life so that Jesus would not be far from them.
Testify. What has he done? What has he said? Tell them what you know, “and perhaps they will reach out and find him.”
DEMON POSSESSED MAN
One day, Jesus and the disciples got into a boat to cross the sea of Galilea and they docked in the region of the Gerasenes. The scariest thing happened. As soon as he got out of the boat, a man with an unclean spirit, that is a demon possessed man, came out of the tombs and met him.
He lived in the tombs. People had tried to chain him up, but the man was so strong under the influence of demonic powers that no one was able to restrain him anymore. He would just break the chains apart and smash the shackles. No one in the town was strong enough to subdue him.
This is a terrifying man. Night and day among the tombs and on the mountains, he was always crying out and cutting himself with stones.
But, when he saw Jesus from a distance, he ran and knelt down before him.
I mean, this is a real twisted dude. If I could compare him to anything real today, I would have to compare him to the gunmen in the mass shootings that we experience from time to time today. I was listening to a psychologist who was part of a team that was assembled to analyze the diaries of the boys who committed the Columbine shooting in 1999. He was very critical of people who were saying that, maybe, they were troubled boys that weren’t parented properly—their parents were too harsh with them or something like that. And he was critical of people who suggested the problem was bullying at school either from students or teachers.
He said when they read those diaries, they were the rantings of truly sick individuals. The gunmen in these mass shootings aren’t trying to get revenge for something someone has done. They aren’t hurt by anyone. They are actually just trying to cause chaos. They see that the world is so depraved, and thus they are trying to show that the world is really what it is, hopeless and chaotic.
That’s the psychology anyway, but this demon possessed man does not cut himself with stones and cry out in the middle of the night for any reason other than to cause chaos to ensue upon the earth. The intent of evil is always to oppose the order and peace of God.
So, the man recognizes Jesus as the Son of the Most High God and he kneels before him, trembling, as a rebellious servant might kneel before a King who has found him out.
And he cries out with a loud voice, “What do you have to do with me, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I beg you before God, do not torment me!”
And you have to understand how demon possession works. The man is still the man he always was, but he is possessed by uncontrollable chaos. And yet, Jesus, speaks to the demon, the uncontrollable chaos within the man.
“What is your name?” he asked him.
“My name is Legion,” he responded, “because we are many.”
And the demons begged Jesus not to command them into the abyss, the place prepared for the devil and his angels, but instead asked that they be sent into a herd of pigs on the hillside.
So he gave them permission to go into the pigs, and the unclean spirits came out and entered the pigs. But, the herd of about two thousand rushed down the steep bank into the sea and drowned there. This was so that the demons might remain free upon the earth and not yet trapped in eternal torment.
So, the men who tended them ran off and reported it in the town and the countryside, and people went to see what had happened. They came to Jesus and saw the man who had been demon-possessed, sitting there, dressed and in his right mind; and they were afraid. Those who had seen it described to them what had happened to the demon-possessed man and told about the pigs. Then they began to beg him to leave their region, because Jesus had cost them a lot of money, possibly their whole livelihood, because of the loss of the pigs.
So, as he was getting into the boat, the man who had been demon-possessed begged him earnestly that he might remain with him. And that seems like a good idea. And we don’t know why Jesus called some men to follow him as his disciples and he commanded others to stay, but He does that. Some people are called to be missionaries of various kinds all over the earth and you would be wise to pray if that is His calling for you.
But, most people will receive the calling of this man. Jesus told him, “Go home to your own people, and report to them how much the Lord has done for you and how he has had mercy on you.” So he went out and began to proclaim in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him, and they were all amazed.
I like to hang out at the Guitar Center. I like musicians. When I’m around musicians I feel like I’m with ‘My people.’ I know how they think and I can talk to them.
I actually feel the same way about youth and young adults. It’s one of the things I like about substitute teaching. Sometimes they stress me out, but they’re ‘my people.’
I have lots of people, though. On Thursday, Trey and I went down to Gateway Seminary and we sat in on a seminar and heard students presenting some of their papers they are working on and I had this sense of, “These are ‘my people.’”
Everyone has their people. I have my people and you have your people. Sometimes, you’ve had a hard week and the weekend comes and you just need to spend some time with, ‘your people.’
Who are your people? Who are those people that are close to you, comfortable with you? Who are your safe people?
I want you to imagine those people with me right now.
You got it?
Now, Christian, heed Jesus’s words:
‘Go to your people, and report to them how much the Lord has done for you and how he has had mercy on you.’
It’s funny. Everywhere Jesus went, he taught and healed and cast out demons and performed other miracles. His fame was spreading throughout all of Israel and even beyond into other regions of the Roman Empire. But, there were times when he didn’t want people to know who he was. But, it didn’t matter what he said to people, his fame continued to spread and word about Jesus—the prophet, the healer, the one who teaches with authority, the one who declares sins forgiven—the word about Jesus spread through the whole world.
One day the people brought to Jesus a deaf man who had difficulty speaking. They begged Jesus to lay his hand on him to heal him.
So he took him away from the crowd to a private place. In this case, Jesus didn’t want everyone to see what was happening. After putting his fingers in the man’s ears and spitting, he touched his tongue. Looking up to heaven, he sighed deeply and said to him, “Ephphatha!” which is an Aramaic word, meaning, “Be opened!” Immediately his ears were opened, his tongue was loosened, and he began to hear and speak clearly.
This is a very simple story about Jesus having mercy on a disabled man and healing him, but notice the end of the story.
Jesus ordered the man and his friends to tell no one. But they had already gone out and were telling everyone and the more Jesus ordered them, the more they pointed to him and proclaimed the miracles he performed.
Mark 7:36–37 (CSB) — He ordered them to tell no one, but the more he ordered them, the more they proclaimed it. They were extremely astonished and said, “He has done everything well. He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak.”
Why not tell everyone? Why not speak? Doesn’t Jesus want to be famous in the land?
These are the questions we ask and the men presumed to know the answer. They thought Jesus is just being modest and humble, but he deserves recognition so they proclaimed all they had witnessed and they told everyone about the goodness of Jesus.
Why not tell? Why not speak?
Those are really the wrong questions to ask. The question to ask comes from the Apostles Peter and John posed to the Jewish rulers. The said,
Acts 4:20 (CSB) — We are unable to stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.
When you’ve seen such wonder as in the face of the Lord Jesus Christ—forgiveness, mercy, rescue, restoration—How can I but speak of what I have seen and heard?
I think the Apostle Paul might have had this in mind when he said,
Romans 15:18 (CSB) — I would not dare say anything except what Christ has accomplished through me by word and deed.
Paul isn’t going to get caught up in meaningless talk with people. He wants to tell people what Christ has said and what Christ has done. Nothing less; nothing more.
You have an inner-circle that is made up of family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, and the like. These are ‘your people,’ your circle of influence and God has placed them exactly where they are for just such an occasion, that you might speak of what Christ has said and that you might speak of what Christ has done.
I don’t feel like I need to give you examples of…
…this week, because you already know. Just answer these questions.
Who is in my inner-circle? Who are ‘My people?’
And, what has Christ said? And, what has Christ done?
Go to your people and tell them what Christ has said and what Christ has done.
And then make sure to be here next week, because Next Week’s message is titled, Good News People Know the Good News, because we’re going to explore what it takes to share the good news with someone.
We’re doing this study, because the Good News of Jesus should stir in your heart the urgency of the woman at the well, to leave your jar, leave your agenda, leave your comfort zone, and go to tell your people that the Messiah, the Savior has come.
And the good news should stir in your heart a yearning for the mission of God like the demon possessed man, so that when you hear about people living a miserable existence in other countries and they are dying in poverty and disease, but more so, they are dying in spiritual poverty, for they know not Christ, that your heart cries out with the same cry of the demon possessed man and you beg God that you might go with Him into the world. Pray and beg God that He might call you into the mission field, to bring the Gospel to the nations.
And if He says ‘no’ and missions work is not your calling, then go, as Jesus commanded you to go, to ‘your people.’ And go to your people with the zeal of the deaf man who could not stop proclaiming what Christ had done. Go to your people to proclaim what Christ has said and what Christ has done. Do so boldly. Do so shamelessly.
For there is no cure for the sickness of this world except Jesus Christ. And there is no solution to the troubles of this life except Jesus Christ. And there is no power to overcome oppression except Jesus Christ. And there is no light to overcome darkness except Jesus Christ.
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