Lift Up Your Eyes
Preached at Cornerstone Church in Cascade, IA on March 13, 2015
Open your Bibles to John 4:27-45. Last week we examined the first half of the story of the Samaritan women at the well. In doing so we saw the amazing grace of our God. We saw that the Sovereign God of the Universe arrange a meeting between his Son, God incarnate, and a women that in the world’s eyes was a complete and utter nobody. This women had been culturally rejected, religiously rejected and socially rejected, yet Christ was to meet with her. This conversation was between the Holy One of God and the poster child of sinful brokenness.
And why did we say that God ordained this meeting? Because this is who God is. Because this is who Christ is. As it says in John 1:14 Jesus is “full of grace.” This story is dripping in Grace. There was nothing this woman brought to Jesus except sin and its consequences, yet because God is “rich in mercy” and “because of the great love with which he loved” her, he was going to make her alive through the living water of His Son. This event is a visual of John 6:44, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him.” This women thought she was going to draw water from Jacob's well, but God was drawing her to the Fount of every blessing.
Last week, at the end of the conversation we read this exchange in verse 25, “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.” 26Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.” And this morning we will examine the rest of the story.
I love how the transition happens in this text. As Jesus proclaims the greatest truth that can be uttered, that he is the long awaited for Messiah, the conversation is interrupted by the return of the disciples. Verse 27, “Just then his disciples came back.” It was like it was planned. Because it was.
Think about how this looked. Jesus arrived at the well with his disciples. He sent them into town. While they were walking into town, the women was walking out of town. She came to the well alone, for such a time as this, to meet her Maker. Jesus revealed who he was and her need for him and testified to her that He is the Christ. At that moment the disciples come back from the town and she leaves.
The disciples and the women are not on the stage at the same time. When one enters stage left, the other exits stage right. Why? I believe it is because God is creating a contrast between them. This contrast is similar to the one that was created between Nicodemus in John 3 and the Samaritan Women in John 4.
In verse 27 we see that the disciples came back. Back from where? Tehy came back from the nearby town of Sychar. What were they doing in Sychar? Verse 8 tells us, “For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.” So they left the well with nothing and came back with food they obtained from Sychar.
Now let us look at the women. She left Sychar and came to the well. What did she have with her? A jar for water. After Jesus revealed to her that he was the long awaited for Messiah she left. What did she take with her back to town? Nothing. Verse 28, “So the woman left her water jar and went away into town.” Why did she leave her jar? Why does anyone forget something? Because you are thinking about something else.
She has just met a Man whose words pierced her heart, Who knew her intimate and dark secrets, Who proclaimed to her, without reservation, that he was the Messiah. Her mind was completely on other things. The last think she was thinking about was her clay jar. Therefore, the disciples left with nothing, and came back with food. The women came with a jar, and left with nothing.
The question you might have in this moment is. “Was the women saved?” I believe the answer is yes. Why do I say this? Because Jesus tells us in Matthew that you know a tree by it’s fruit. Remember their earlier conversation. Previously, Jesus told the Samaritan Women that if you knew who you were talking you, earthly water would be the last thing on your mind. At the moment that he told her that he was the Messiah, we see this exact thing occur. She was not concerned about earthly water anymore, she was , I believed filled with living water. Her eyes were finally opened to who she was talking to.
Second, what did she do after leaving the well? She went back to Sychar and in verse 28, “So the woman left her water jar and went away into town and said to the people, 29“Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” Remember this is a women who is, most likely, a social outcast. As I stated last week, there is a good chance that she is at the well at this moment because no one else will be there. She is ashamed of her sin, and this shame has pushed her further into the darkness. Previously when she left the town to come to Jacob's Well she was dead in her trespasses and sins; however, upon her return she was alive. She was returning to Sychar a new creation. She no longer would live her life in darkness, but she would instead live her life in the light of Christ.
Third, which is connected to the second, it appears that this living water that Jesus had spoken about in that, in fact, welled up in her and could not be contained. It poured out of her as quickly as it poured into her. She tells the people of the town, “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” She had seen the gift of God, the living water, and as Christ desired her to drink, she now desired her fellow Samaritans to drink. This living water was overflowing from her heart, and pouring out on others.
So was she a believer? I think the evidence points to, yes she was.
Jars of Clay
Let us take a moment and pulls some things together. As I have already stated, the meeting between Jesus and this women was a divine appointment. Likewise, we marveled that the God of the Universe would love this cultural, social, and religious outcast. And he would love her exactly where she was at. He did not create any hoops for her to jump through, she merely had to believe that he was the Messiah.
When she left her jar of clay at the well, the divine appointment was not over, it was only beginning. For God had a plan that was bigger than just her salvation. God was going to use the most unlikely person in all of region to save an entire town from going to Hell. So let us look at how this unfolds.
Remember, this was the town that the disciples just came from. What did they bring back to Jesus? Food. Look at verse 31, “Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.” What was Jesus’ response? Verse 32 “But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.”
Jesus didn’t want their sandwiches. Why not? Because he says he already had food. In the Greek the “I” and the “you” are emphatic. This means that they should be emphasized when read. “I have food to eat you YOU do not know about.” This food of Jesus was a food that his disciples were oblivious to. They had no idea what he was talking about. And you can see this blindness in verse 33, “So the disciples said to one another, “Has anyone brought him something to eat?”
Jesus, knowing that they don't see, explains what his food is. Verse 34, “Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work.” So what is Jesus talking about? What does He mean that His food is doing God's will?
Let us answer this with another question? What is the purpose of food? Food is what gives you the energy to live. Food is what sustains you, what provides the strength for you to keep moving forward. So how is God's will, Jesus' food? In the same way. It is God's will that gives Jesus life. Jesus was sustained by every word that comes from the mouth of God. As long as God had work for him to do, he was able to take another step.
What a radical way to view your life. A life fully dependent, not on the things of this world, food included, but entirely dependent on God's will. This way of seeing life is so different then the worlds. It goes against everything we are taught. We are taught that we need food, that we need a home, that we need a car, that we need insurance, that we need an education, that need a 401k. The list can go on and on. But that is not the way Jesus saw the world. He viewed it through one lens, His Father's will. Our minds are so saturated in sin that we have a hard time processing what he is saying. We are exactly like the disciples, totally confused. And this is why Jesus speaks these words to them, to help them view the world rightly, with God centeredness.
Lift Up Your Eyes
Take a moment and think about this event. He had just sent them into Sychar, and he hangs back at the well. They walk through a sea of souls, and never tell one person in that town that right outside the city limits sits the God of the Universe. They do not bring one person to meet Jesus, not even one. Are you kidding me!? Open up your eyes!
And this is exactly what Jesus said to them. Verse 35, “Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest.” The harvest that Jesus is talking about are the souls of Sychar. God's will for Jesus was to come and save the lost. The disciples existed to facilitate that salvation. To bring people to the Lamb of God, so that their sins could be taken away. But on this particular occasion, they were too busy being worried about their stomach.
But this was not the case for the Samaritan Women. Her eyes were open wide. She stood in stark contrast to the Disciples. The disciples were men, had been following Jesus for some time now, they were true Sons of Israel, knew the Old Testament. The women was a brand new believer with very little knowledge except that Jesus was the Messiah. They bring Jesus sandwiches. She brings Jesus her community. Verse 39, “Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me all that I ever did.”
How did she do it? She shared her testimony and asked them to come and listen to Jesus for themselves. And this act of love towards them is why in this moment, those people who put their faith in Jesus are in the presence of Christ, and not in Hades.
Saving Your Sychar
In two weeks it will be Easter Sunday. On that day we are having a pancake breakfast and an Easter Sunday service. In between now and then, we have a choice to make. We can be like the disciples, and only offer Jesus food, or we can be like the Samaritan women and bring him our community? The question is will we lift up our eyes from our self centered lives and see before us the harvest of God? Will we set aside the cares of this world and be sustained by the will of God, to go and make disciples?
This is why we exist, to do the will of God. The will of God is made abundantly clear. Verse 38 “I sent you to reap.” The reason why God saves you, and then leaves you here on earth is to be the Samaritan women in your community. Later on in the book of John, Jesus is praying the night of his arrest and his says this to His Father in John 17:18, “As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world.” If you have the living water of Christ in you, this is your calling, this is what it means to follow Jesus.
I was reading the introduction of a book this week named, “The Insanity of Obedience.” The Author described a meeting with some Christians in China. He was giving some statistics about the growth of Christianity in China. After the meeting a Chinese man pulled him aside and told him that his numbers were wrong. He said that in China, true Christians do not consider someone to be a true follower of Jesus until they have led other people to Christ and until they have helped plant more house Churches. Using this definition of following Christ, would you be considered a Christian?
Therefore, I have two challenges that I want to put before each of you this morning. First, I want to encourage you to be about your father's work and spend the next two weeks fasting and praying for your community. Let us be like our Lord, and forgo food and pursue God's will. How much you fast, I will leave it up to you. If you want to fast one day each week, that is fine. If you want to fast two days each week, that is also fine. If you want to fast three days each week, that is also fine. I will leave your fasting to you and God.
Second, invite people to come to Easter Service, not for the pancakes, but for the Gospel. Invite every person who lives on your block, invite all of your co-workers, invite your extended family, invite complete strangers. Let me be abundantly clear about something, this is not about filling seats on Sunday morning. This is about Heaven and Hell. To help you with this task we have 500 invitation cards. Let us put these in the hands of 500 people. On your way out I encourage you to grab a dozen or two.
No one in this room is incapable of these two tasks. If God can use this Samaritan women, he can use you. If you have this living water welling up in you, stop hording it and allow it to pour out upon those nearest you. Allow the power of God to be unleashed.
2 Corinthians 4:7 – “But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.” Let us share our greatest treasure.
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