As we continue preaching through the Gospel of John at Jonah’s Call, we begin a new series called Getting Your Life Back. The premise of the series follows John’s understanding of Jesus as one who gives back what has been lost or restores what is broken or corrects what is wrong. Join us for this series and learn more about how the person of Jesus can give you back those things that you have lost in your life.
It is hard to be a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ and not affirm second chances. I believe in second chances. Do you?
The title of this week's sermon was carefully chosen. It does not say getting a second chance. It says getting another chance. When Jesus met the Samaritan woman at the well. She was way past a second chance, or a third or a fourth. In fact, that he met her when he met her shows us that she was not part of the main stream of culture. Women congregated at wells in the early morning hours before the days heat could overtake them. This woman is alone and it is not daybreak. She does not need a second chance- she needs just one more after a long string of failures. Join us this Sunday as we look into just how deep the grace of God extends and what it might mean for us to receive and extend this kind of grace in our relationships at home, work, church and within the places in which we live.
I grew up in Beekman, New York in a rural town 120 miles north of New York City. When the whistle at the town fire station blew, its sound echoed across the valley and, at times, it felt like the whole town would emerge upon whatever fire was ablaze in our little part of the world. Not a lot happened in our town so when something did, even if it was pathological, people would come “out of the woodwork” to see it. Folks will come a long way to see a fire!
In the passage for this week (John 4:16-42), the Samaritan woman says to those within her town, “Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done!” As an outcast, this statement was definitely something that folks would have responded to like a blazing fire. This Sunday, we will complete the story of Jesus’ encounter with the woman at the well and discover what all of the “fuss” was about. Don’t miss it and be sure to invite a friend.
Some people see potential in everything. They see possibilities where others stare blankly. These folks have the potential to be accomplished artists, entrepreneurs, even church planters. They have what experts call the natural gift of faith. Is this what the Bible means when it describes faith- people who are prone to see hidden things where others do not? Well, yes and no. Certainly faith includes being convinced that an unseen reality exists and believing it. So, yes, faith is believing that hidden things are real. However, the Bible does not ever describe faith as a personal trait that some have and others do not. Artists might be naturally prone to have faith because they can see hidden potential but the faith that the Bible describes is also available to scientists, accountants and day laborers. In fact, faith, according to Hebrews begins with our reason, whether we are artists or bookkeepers. Why? Because faith is about that which we are convinced is real even if we cannot see it. And, we all have faith in something. In the Book of John, we are given good reason to believe in things that have been hidden. The miracle of the healing in John 4:43-53 is one such case.
I don’t know about you, but I find that when I have a thousand “loose ends” in my life, I find it really hard to get good rest. However, when I have completed a project, finished a hard day of work well, or gotten to the end of the “race” and then taken my “prize,” I sleep like I am a stone. I can rest. The work of Jesus is an amazing thing. He says things like, ‘Come to me all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest. For my burden is light and my teaching is easy.’ In this passage, he offers rest to those who are strung out, burned out, left out, and down and out. In a way that causes me to want to run into his arms, we find in this passage, Christ’s ability to take up the slack for us in the areas of our life where we come up short. He is the finisher of your never-ending project, the carrier of your burden, the one who in a very cosmic way, can give you the rest that you cannot get on your own. Do you want that? I sure do.
In the famous parable called the cave, the ancient philosopher, Plato gives us glimpses into a central dilemma of the human heart- we are light bearers who have grown accustom to the dark. The films, The Matrix, The Truman Show and TV series like ABC’s Once Upon a Time are modern attempts to deal with this phenomenon- so is CS Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia. We know there is something more out there but we have become accustom to the mundane aspect of human life. We want the ideal to break into the real- at least most of us do in some way. I recently peered in on a reality show about Home decorators. One judge said, if we could combine all of the contestants we would have the ideal designer. When we see Jesus, he is presenting not what is but what should be. He is a Kingly warrior capable of utterly destroying his enemy. But, he rides in on a donkey. As millions have discovered over the centuries, Jesus claims to be, and has been found to be, the ideal made real. The king we are looking for who can take us out of the darkness of our caves and bring us into the light of what we were designed for.
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