Sermon, Sexagesima Sunday, St Andrews Anglican Church, 8 February 2015 Anno Domini (Year of our Lord)
Mark 4 –
31 In the mean while his disciples prayed him, saying, Master, eat. 32 But he said unto them, I have meat to eat that ye know not of. 33 Therefore said the disciples one to another, Hath any man brought him ought to eat? 34 Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work. 35 Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest. 36 And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together. 37 And herein is that saying true, One soweth, and another reapeth. 38 I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labour: other men laboured, and ye are entered into their labours
These verses, taken in isolation, may not open to us as fully as is made possible by reading the full context in which they occurred.
In order to know which direction a stationary train will be moving, we need to see on which end is the locomotive, and which the kaboose – merely observing the middle cars alone will not fully enlighten. So we need to read the preceding account to fully grasp the present.
1 When therefore the Lord knew how the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John, 2 (Though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples,) 3 He left Judaea, and departed again into Galilee.
4 And he must needs go through Samaria. 5 Then cometh he to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. 6 Now Jacob’s well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied with his journey, sat thus on the well: and it was about the sixth hour
2) The Purpose:
7 There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: Jesus saith unto her, Give me to drink. 8 (For his disciples were gone away unto the city to buy meat.)
We read these lines as if this meeting occurred by simple chance, but it did not.
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: 4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: 5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,
With God, nothing happens by chance … all is predestinated and foreordained before of God.
The last thing this woman expected was to find a Jew man at the well for Jews avoided the Samaritans as they would a leper.
3) The Process:
a – The woman, wanting to avoid the stares and gossip of other more reputable women (for she was one of ill-repute) comes to the well in the heat of the day. It was customary to come to draw water during the cool evening hours, but she comes at noon.
She expects no company. She does not have the least suspicion that great changes are about to happen in her heart and in her life.
9 Then saith the woman of Samaria unto him, How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? for the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans
b – The intriguing proposition
10 Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.
Do you know to whom you address your inquiry, madam?
c. the furtive response:
11 The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water? 12 Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle?
Not being a Bible scholar, the woman latches onto her only known Bible knowledge to respond to the Author of the Bible itself.
She remembers the account of Jacob. She knows he was the greatest of the ancestors of the Samaritans (or at least believes this to be true).
But her mind and heart is set upon the water located some scores of feet down in a hole in the ground. She has no knowledge of the Water of which Christ speaks.
The Fountain of Living Waters is beyond the presnt vision of this woman, but Jesus draws her closer that she might, at last, see.
Christ tickles her curiosity and draws her interst more deeply into His own being:
13 Jesus answered and said unto her, Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: 14 But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.
This woman, a castoff of society, has never heard of this beautiful and perpetually satisfying Water.
Christ, the greatest of Fishermen, has carefully set a loving hook in the woman’s heart: He then makes a seemingly unknowing appeal by asking:
16 Jesus saith unto her, Go, call thy husband, and come hither.
Do you believe that Jesus did not know all about this woman – her life, her sin, he need for salvation?
The woman responds with a technical truth, but a spiritual lie:
17 The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her,
Jesus knows of all the dirt we sweep under the carpet: He responds: Thou hast well said, I have no husband: 18 For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly.
The woman has failed in virtue and she knows it, but is surprised that Jesus – a total stranger – also knows it.
She is living in open adultery and has the equivalent of five husbands – for to sleep with a man is the same as being united in a marriage relationship.
But God condemns this kind of sexual relationship.
The Rev S.A. Brooks beautifully describes the need of this woman in these words: The woman at the well, feeling about for light, was led to her own Scriptures, and in those Scriptures to a prophecy—a prophecy of a great Teacher who was to come—the Messias. The coming Teacher, she knew, would solve all her difficulties, and make her way quite clear. It is very beautiful, very comforting, very teaching, to watch this poor, earnest, baffled woman’s soul, gathering itself at last till it centres upon Christ. She was in a great strait; where was the escape? Messias comes; He makes all things right. As the key fits into the lock, as the light matches to the eye, or as sweet music to the ear, so Christ is made for the soul, and the soul is made for Christ. Till nature has that filling it must be incomplete, and life must be restless till it settles on that one resting-place; and this that thirsting, confessing, enquiring mind was finding out, when God took her by the hand and led her, and put it into her heart to feel, “I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when He is come, He will teach us all things.”
So the woman relies on the little spiritual and biblical knowledge that she can foster:
19 The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshipped in this mountain; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship.
Now Jesus draws the hooked fish even closer to the Ark of Life:
21 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, believe me, the hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father. 22 Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews. 23 But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. 24 God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.
The woman stills clings to her won limited knowledge of God: she struggles against the hook – 25 The woman saith unto him, I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things. 26 Jesus saith unto her, I that speak unto thee am he.
Now this exchange between Christ and this fallen woman is not only for her own benefit, but also for our own benefit, and the benefit of her village, and for the benefit of countless millions of sinners count in the net of Satan.
Look at the impressions the disciples have of this encounter: 27 And upon this came his disciples, and marvelled that he talked with the woman: yet no man said, What seekest thou? or, Why talkest thou with her?
They did not understand, but they knew Christ well enough not to question His intent. Here He is talking with a woman whose very appearance revealed that she was not a righteous and faithful wife to any man.
d – the Catch:
Knowing Christ changes things. The woman who was embarrassed to come with other women to the well, is now going into the city shouting to all who will listen the greatness of Christ!
The steady love and purpose of Christ has drawn the hesitant fish to safe harbor: 28 The woman then left her waterpot, and went her way into the city, and saith to the men, 29 Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ? 30 Then they went out of the city, and came unto him
The testimony of one, even one of ill repute, can have dramatic results.
Sometimes, we are so overcome with joy that we are not hungry for the food of this world. We can only think upon that Bread that comes down from Heaven – the spiritual food of Christ!
e – the Effect!
Now we can read the sermon text with understanding can’t we?
In the mean while his disciples prayed him, saying, Master, eat. 32 But he said unto them, I have meat to eat that ye know not of. 33 Therefore said the disciples one to another, Hath any man brought him ought to eat? 34 Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work. 35 Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest. 36 And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together. 37 And herein is that saying true, One soweth, and another reapeth. 38 I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labour: other men laboured, and ye are entered into their labours.
f –The results of a single soul’s salvation!
39 And many of the Samaritans of that city believed on him for the saying of the woman, which testified, He told me all that ever I did. 40 So when the Samaritans were come unto him, they besought him that he would tarry with them: and he abode there two days. 41 And many more believed because of his own word; 42 And said unto the woman, Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ, the Saviour of the world.
So may you believe!