David Jeremiah - Is He Seeking Us or Are We Seeking Him?
When Tiffany Otterback went to go grab her coffee one morning at work, she tried to adjust her wedding rings and realized they were missing and automatically, she knew exactly what had happened. She had accidentally thrown them in the garbage the night before when she was making meatloaf for her family. Otterback immediately called her mom, who was at home watching her two young children, to check to see whether or not the trash had been picked up. Unfortunately, it had just been picked up. It was trash day in her neighborhood. They had just come and gone, her mother said.
Otterback's heart immediately sank into her stomach. The next thing she did was called her husband to deliver the devastating news to him, but she only heard silence on the other end of the phone. There was no sound at all. "He hung up on me", she said. It was like wow, that went well. Otterback then called the Department of Sanitation and was connected with the supervisor in charge of her specific neighborhood. The supervisor instructed the truck to stop in its place at a safe area, not dump the trash, do anything further with the truck.
That evening when Otterback and her husband arrived at the truck, they were met by five sanitation workers ready to help them search through the pounds and piles of trash. Believe it or not, it took them only 45 minutes to find the needle in the haystack among seven tons of trash that were in the truck. She was relieved and just so happy. She said, "I can't believe I lost them. I had wanted to pass these rings down to my daughter's one day. I was so touched by the fact that these men really came and helped us search. They went above and beyond, and I'll never be able to think of meatloaf again the same way".
What was true about husband and wife and those sanitation workers is also true of the Jesus you may not know. He goes above and beyond to seek and to save what is precious to him, sinners, like you and me. Today we're going to examine a story that is well known in the Bible. It's about Jesus crossing all kinds of barriers, going above and beyond to seek and to save someone. It's a story about our Lord's encounter with a woman. It is usually referred to as the woman at the well or the story of the Samaritan woman, and it is found recorded for us in the first 30 verses of John chapter 4. And we're going to learn something today about the nature of our wonderful Lord.
The message is really divided into three sections. First, we're going to see how the Lord seeks us, then we're gonna learn how he saves us, and then we're gonna learn how he sends us. So, first of all, how the Lord seeks us, the first nine verses of John chapter 4. I remember back in the early '90s as the pastor here, we went through this phase in the church. How many of you know the church goes through phases of methodologies? How many of you remember the bus movement, where everybody went to church on a bus, and all kinds of stories about that? Well, we went through this phase, and it was called the Seeker Movement, and it was the idea that everybody out there is seeking after God, and if we can just connect with them, we can draw them into the gospel. So, we ended up with Seeker Churches.
Now, what happened was it just went to seed and young, aggressive pastors were doing everything you can imagine that wasn't anything to do with what we normally knew as church to track people to come to their services. I remember one church where the pastor rode down the center aisle on a motorcycle in the service. Can you see me doing that? Another church, with which I am very familiar, had a very interesting series on prayer in order to illustrate the importance of prayer. They brought a beach ball into the pulpit, and then they threw it out and if it landed on your lap, you get to write your little prayer request on the beach ball and kick it off to somebody else. That's a prayer chain, I've never heard anything like that before in my life. All kinds of things like that were done to attract people out there who are not normally attracted by the gospel.
And I remember as I traveled around from place to place during those days, people would ask me, "Is Shadow Mountain a seeker-sensitive church or is it a seeker-driven church? What kind of church is Shadow Mountain"? And one day I was reading the Scripture and I read these words in Romans 3:11, "There is no one who seeks after God". Hmm, everybody go, "Hmm". The Bible talks about sinners seeking God, let's truly understand that. And it also talks about God seeking sinners. But when you put the two of those together, it's pretty clear that the only way we can ever seek him is if he seeks us first. It's kind of like the love quotient. We love him because he first loved us.
Luke 19:10 tells us exactly how this works. For here is our Lord's mission statement as he came to this earth, Luke 19:10. "For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost". So, now when people ask me if we're a seeker-friendly church I say, "Oh, yes, our seeker is Jesus, and we're pretty friendly with him". So, that's how you answer that question. The Bible everywhere supports this wonderful truth, men and women, that Jesus is the seeker. He seeks after you, and he seeks after me. We may think that we sought Jesus and came to him, but before we ever saw him, he sought us. He was, first of all, seeking after us, and many people were honest when they became Christians and said, "I wasn't even looking for the Lord. He came, and he got me. He sought after me".
So today, we're gonna look at a passage of Scripture, and we're going to see how our Lord seeks after us. And what we learned from chapter 4 in the Gospel of John is that Jesus seeks after us, no matter where we are, no matter what we are, and no matter who we are. Jesus has an boundaries to his determination to come and bring us to himself. We set up walls between us. We set up boundaries around our lives. We say, "I'll go witness to those people, but I'm not witnessing to those people. I'll love this group, but I can't love that"...
Jesus had no boundaries whatsoever as you shall see as we go through this passage of Scripture together. First of all, he seeks us past racial divides. In the first six verses of John chapter 4 we read, "Therefore, when the Lord knew that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John (though Jesus Himself did not baptize, but His disciples), Jesus left Judea and departed again to Galilee. But He needed to go through Samaria. So He came to a city of Samaria which is called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Now Jacob's well was there. Jesus therefore, being wearied from His journey, sat thus by the well. And it was about the sixth hour".
Now, John tells us that Jesus is making a journey from Judea to Galilee. If you had a map, you would notice that to go from Judea to Galilee, the direct route is right through the center of Samaria. But many of you may know that the Jews hated the Samaritans, and no self-respecting Jew would ever go through Samaria for any reason. They would take a journey way up around the tip of Samaria and then come back into Galilee so that they wouldn't have to walk anywhere on Samaritan ground.
The Jews hated the Samaritans and the feeling was mutual. The bitter hatred between the Jews and the Samaritans was longstanding. You see, back in 721 B.C., the Assyrians came through the northern kingdom of Israel and swept many Israelites away in captivity to Assyria. The Assyrians also repopulated the region with people throughout their empire, and the remaining Israelites were mixed in with the Persians and the other conquered peoples and paganism became mixed with countless other practices, and Samaria became an infamous region known for its impurity. In 587 B.C., the Babylonians came and took the southern kingdom of Israel away in captivity. And during the time that the southern kingdom of Israel was captive by the Babylonians, they were of absolutely pure Jewish blood. They never married with the Babylonians.
Now, get this picture, the Jews are returning to their homeland, and the Israelites from the southern kingdom had not intermarried, and they began to hate the Israelites from the northern kingdom because when they settled after the the Assyrian captivity, they intermarried with the Assyrians. And so, a tremendous tension grew up between the pure Israelites who had come out of Babylonian captivity but had not intermarried with the Babylonians, and the Israelites who had been taken away by the Assyrians but married into the Assyrian culture all of the paganism and idolatry and all.
So, here was, in their minds, here was pure Israel, and here was the impure, corrupted Israelites. And so, the northern kingdom had nothing to do with the southern kingdom. And the hatred was so great, they would really walk 100 miles out of their way not to step on the territory known as Samaria. But notice, when Jesus made his journey to Galilee, the shortest route was through Samaria, and the Bible says that Jesus didn't take the detour. He didn't go around the top of the land and come back into Galilee. He went right through the center of Samaria.
Now please note, Jesus was a Jewish rabbi. He was an Orthodox Jew, and he walked right through what the Jewish people thought was an unholy land made up of Jews who had intermarried with Assyrians. Jesus was a Jew, and the woman he was going to meet, the woman he was seeking was a Samaritan. But Jesus looked past the racial divide, and when he saw this woman at the well of Sychar, he didn't see a Jew, he didn't see a Samaritan, he saw a person for whom Christ died who needed to hear the gospel. Would that we could get that in our hearts today, that God cares little about the color of our skin, or the tongue that we speak, or our racial differences. He died for the whole world, and he sees the whole world just like he sees any one person. And we ought to have that view as well. We ought not to say, "Well, I couldn't go minister to those people".
Jesus went across the racial barrier to touch the life of a needy woman. He not only seeks past our racial barriers, he seeks past our social divide. Verses 7 and 8 tell us that, "A woman of Samaria came to draw water. And Jesus said to her, 'Give Me a drink.' For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food". When Jesus sat down at the well that day and talked with the Samaritan woman, he not only went past a racial divide, he went past a social divide.
And that culture in which Jesus was living in that day, a Jewish man never spoke to a woman in public. Believe it or not, they couldn't even talk to their wives or their sisters. The only woman that a Jewish man could speak to in public was his daughter. During Jesus's day, there was a group of Pharisees who not only refused to talk to a woman in public, they took it a step further and refused to look at a woman in public. Whenever they would see a woman in the distance, they would close their eyes, and they became known as the bruised and bleeding Pharisees because they kept running into buildings, and stones, and rocks.
That's a real true statement from history. But Jesus was different. He was different than all of the people that he represented in Judaism. Throughout his earthly ministry, he was regularly in the company of women. In fact, Jesus had many female disciples, which would have shocked his contemporaries. When we consider the social times Jesus was living in, the way he treated women was so different from the way everyone else treated women. Jesus elevated women to a status way above what they were normally treated in his day.
And the gospels include the examples of Jesus healing and forgiving women who were ritually unclean, who were Gentiles, who were sinners, women who had lost everything. He never rebuked them for acting like women and he never made fun of them or purposefully avoided them. Instead, Jesus welcomed women. He included women, he called women to receive salvation. He treated them the way he treated everyone, engaging them in conversation, telling them about himself, and offering them the plan of salvation. So, when Jesus went across Samaria to the well at Sychar and sat down that day with the woman, he's now violated two boundaries which control his day.
Number three, he seeks us past the cultural divide. Verse 9 says, "The woman of Samaria said to Him, 'How is it that You, being a Jew, ask a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?' For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans". There you have it. In the right way, Jesus was a rule breaker. He was a cultural revolutionary. He shattered the norms of his day, and while his fellow Jews were taking alternative routes to avoid going through Samaria, he cut through the middle of this hostile territory. And while the average person would steer clear of a contagious leper, Jesus would walk right up to him and reach out his hand, and he became probably the first person in years to touch a dying leper.
Jesus made a tax collector his disciple. Are you kidding me? He involved women in helping fund his ministry. And everywhere you look, he's crashing through the barriers that society was putting up around everyone. Jesus healed the servant of a Roman soldier, would you believe? He featured a hated Samaritan as the hero in one of his stories, the Good Samaritan, have you ever thought about that? He condemned the rich and the powerful, and he lifted up the poor and the oppressed.
Jesus had come to seek those left behind by everyone else. From the AIDS ward to the homeless shelter, no human being is an untouchable in the eyes of God. He did not come to pamper and puff up the found, he came to seek and to save the lost, and for Jesus, that's all that mattered. They were a human being who needed salvation. Should that not be our method as well? Should we not look at this world of men and women who are lost and need Christ and realize nothing really matters just except one thing, show them Jesus, tell them about Jesus, help them to know how to go to heaven. That's what Jesus did. Then finally, this may be the most profound of all. He seeks us past racial divides, past the social divide, past the cultural divide, and finally, past the moral divide.
Now, let me remind you again, Jesus was a rabbi. He was a teacher. We know from this story that the Samaritan woman was living in an immoral relationship. The Bible teaches us in John chapter 4 that this particular woman had been married to five different men, and she was currently living with the sixth man who wasn't her husband. Yet here was the holiest man who ever walked on this earth, the Lord Jesus Christ, the greatest rabbi in history, and he's sitting at a well speaking freely with her as though he was having a conversation among equals. Jesus broke through the moral divide in pursuing this Samaritan woman, why? Because Jesus did not come to save those who were holy. Jesus came to save those who were sinners.
The Bible says it this way in Mark and Luke, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick, Jesus said, I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance". Jesus didn't come to make religious people better. Jesus came to make sinners saints. Luke says it this way, "I'm not coming to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance".
Now, let me just pause for a moment and tell you that this thing about Jesus that you may not know is the unique thing about the Christian religion. It is, at this point, that Christianity is different from every other religion. Even in Judaism, if a sinner came back to God, God would accept the sinner, but Judaism never taught that God went out into the wilderness like a shepherd to seek and to save the lost, neither does any other religion, only Christianity, God in Christ, God through the Holy Spirit reaching out to the people who are in need. The Jesus you may not know gladly broke all kinds of barriers to make new friends. He crossed racial, social, cultural and moral divides, so that he could seek and save the lost.
How Jesus seeks us. Here's an example of how that's being done today. If you ever traveled to Northern Ireland, you will realize that they are still struggling with their wars between the republican Catholics in the unionist Protestants. This war supposedly ended over 20 years ago, but the divisions are still there. When Donna and I were in Ireland some years ago, we noticed some of that. It was just kind of interesting to observe it. There's a dividing line that still runs down the middle of the city of Belfast. Parts of the city are still plagued by violence, drug abuse, military gangs, and broken families.
But listen to this, there's this church sitting right in the middle of the dividing line. The dividing line goes right through the middle of the church, and there's a door that opens on this side of the church and a door that opens on this side of the church, and the church welcomes people from both sections of the city. They were once mortal enemies, but for a few moments on the Lord's day, they sit in the church and worship together.
Pastor Jack McKee said, "I stand by sometimes and I say, this is the Lord's doing and it is marvelous in our eyes, knowing they come from a terrorist background and that they're able to come and sit in the same row with those who were on the opposite side, and worship God alongside them. Only God could do that".
Do you have some unconfessed prejudices? Very easy today in this culture to be prejudiced? Are there people you simply just don't like? If we're gonna seek the lost like Jesus, we have to overcome the barriers and take the gospel to Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria, and the ends of the earth, and we must do so compelled by the radical love of the Lord Jesus Christ. When we are in eternity someday, all these things we disagree about right now on this earth will seem so petty and unimportant, and we'll remember how we sometimes treated people unfairly just because they were not like us. Jesus sets the tone for all the racial issues people want to talk about today. For him, the only difference was the difference between a sinner saved by grace and a sinner that needs to be saved by grace, that was it.
So, that's how Jesus seeks us, and that's how we're to seek others. Notice secondly, how Jesus saves us, and the story in John 4 continues. We're about to see some things Jesus did with this Samaritan woman as he tried to reach her heart. If you happen to be a person who likes to share your faith, maybe you consider yourself an evangelist or a witness. There's no passage in the Scripture that you can turn to that will help you more than this one.
Here is the way Jesus got to someone's heart. First of all, he identifies with our humanity. First thing Jesus did upon meeting the Samaritan woman at Jacob's well was to ask her for a drink of water. Verse 6 says he sat down by the well because he was weary from walking such a long way. He had sent the disciples into Sychar to buy food. So, Jesus was hungry, and thirsty, and weary, and the humanity of Jesus could not have been more plain to see. For that reason, the Samaritan woman identified with him, not as God, but as a fellow human being who needed some water and some rest.
How many of you know that when God Almighty wanted to send love to us from heaven, he didn't send it in a book, he didn't send it in the Holy Spirit, he sent his love to us in a human being, someone just like we are. He lived and walked on this earth, and as we learned earlier, he will be forever in his humanity in heaven. That is the reason God did that. He sent someone to share with us his love, and he sent the gift in such a way that we would identify with it. We identify with Jesus. We see him as we see ourselves, yet he was apart from sin.
So, Jesus sat down that day at the well and he identified with this woman in his humanity. The Father sent the Son into the world that we might identify with him. How many of you know if Jesus had arrived in Sychar that day in his total divine majesty, he would have freaked that woman out, he would have never had a conversation with her at all. She would have immediately retreated, gone back to her city. God appeared to her in a way she could identify with and relate to, which is how he comes to us as well and how we ought to go to others, not in a, "We are better than you are, we need to tell you how sinful you are so you can become a Christian like we are". You won't win anybody to Christ like that. You identify with them as in your humanity. You ask about their needs, you talk to them about their struggles, you show interest in their life.
Secondly, he invites our curiosity. "Jesus answered and said to her, 'If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, 'Give Me a drink,' you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water. The woman said to Him, 'Sir, You have nothing to draw with, and the well is deep. Where then do You get that living water? Are You greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank from it himself, as well as his sons and his livestock?' Jesus answered and said to her, 'Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.'"
Can you imagine what that woman thought when he got done talking? She said, "What, what are you talking about"? We can learn so much from observing how Jesus related to people. He wasn't looking for a decision, as we often do when speaking with a non Christian. He was patient and he sought to draw that person into the conversation, allowing her to see her own need. Jesus didn't ever extend an invitation. He waited for the people to invite themselves, and he did it masterfully.
In John 4:9 through 14, we have the first part of their back and forth conversation. Here's how it goes. She ends up asking Jesus all the right questions, "Why are you willing to ask me for a drink? Where do you get living water? Are you greater than Jacob who drank from this well? He didn't have living water, did he"? It would be ideal if everyone we talked to who didn't know the Lord was so intrigued with our life that they began asking all the right questions to us. Jesus isn't questioning this woman, he's drawn her into the conversation in such a way that she's questioning him. She's asking him the right questions. She was completely taken by the stranger from Judea who told her about living water.
They were having this conversation by a well, and Jesus told her about water that would allow her never to thirst again, and he had her right in the palm of his hand. He was a master at using his surroundings to preach the gospel. She was there at noon because the other women in the community wouldn't associate with her because of her past, and Jesus is telling her about water that would quench her thirst forever. She's thinking about physical water and obviously, "If I get this water, I won't have to come back to this well again". But Jesus is patiently bringing her along, using physical illustrations to illustrate spiritual truth.
And then thirdly, he insists on our honesty. You say, "How do you get people to acknowledge that they need Christ"? Watch Jesus. "The woman said to Him, 'Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw.'" "I don't want to come back here again if I don't have to". "Jesus said to her, 'Go, call your husband, and come here.'" Uh-oh. "The woman answered and said, 'I have no husband.' Jesus said to her, 'You have well said, 'I have no husband,' for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; in that you have spoken truly.'"
And here's the most wonderful sentence in the gospel of John. "And the woman said to Him, 'Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet.'" No kidding. I mean, this man just told her everything about her life and her comment was, "You know, I've just had a moment of perception. I perceive you're a prophet". Jesus has to get this woman to be honest about who she is, so she can be honest about her spiritual need. The conversation continues, and Jesus reveals that he knows that she has five husbands in the past and the man she lives with now is not her husband. And she makes what is perhaps this great understatement in the Scripture. A man she's never met before knows her life story.
Jesus wasn't trying to intimidate her. He wasn't trying to embarrass this poor woman. She had obviously lived a very difficult life, and he was very sensitive to that but it was necessary for her to reveal her true thirst. If living water was going to mean anything at all to this woman, she needed to be honest about her moral failures and her sin. If she was going to be able to appreciate God's forgiveness, she had to be honest about her life.
Let me tell you something, men and women, anyone who wants to become a Christian must be willing to confess his or her sins before God. A person who won't confess his sin is in effect, saying, "I don't have any sins", and a person who doesn't have any sins doesn't need any Savior. That's why it's important when you come to Christ that you recognize that you're a sinner. A lot of people come to church who feel like they're okay, and they will never come to Christ until they understand that if you haven't had a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, you don't go to heaven, no matter how good you may think you are.
We used to have a program that I used when I started the church in Fort Wayne, and we still use it some today. It's called Evangelism Explosion and one of the questions you would ask people when you would share faith with them was this, "If you should die today and stand before God in heaven, and he would say to you, 'Why should I let you into my heaven?'" "What would you say"? And I've asked that question to literally hundreds of people and the most often given answer is, "I was a good husband. I'm a good father. I haven't committed any terrible crimes. I'm probably not the best person I could be, but I'm a lot better than most people that I know", and all of this diatribe about one's goodness.
But that's not what you need to understand. What you need to understand is, the Bible says that all of our righteousness is our like filthy rags before God because they have no meaning, they have no standing. I don't care how good you are, how much you have done, how much you've given, where you go with your life, who you touch, how sensitive and compassionate you are, the Bible says that until you come to Christ and acknowledge your emptiness without him, you cannot be a Christian. And the Bible gives us this very important statement, "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God".
You say, "Pastor Jeremiah, what does it mean to sin"? It means to come short of the glory of God, to miss the absolute standard. It means that if we're going to go to heaven, there's only two ways that would be possible. One is to live a perfect life and never ever do one sin, and then you could stand before God in heaven and say, "I have never once sinned in my whole life, either in omission or commission, in any possible..." Anyone here want to try that way? I don't think you're gonna make it. Because I don't care how good you are, there's no one who is like that.
So, what's the other option? To acknowledge that way number one doesn't work because you're a flawed human being and you're a sinner and to say, "Lord God, I can't come to heaven by myself because I have sinned. I repent of my sin and receive you as my Savior". What Jesus was doing that day with this woman was, in a kind and yet very powerful way, helping her to understand that she was lost, and that she needed to be saved, and she needed someone to do that in her behalf. So, he insists on her honesty, and then he invalidates our religiosity. Unfortunately, when Jesus brought this woman's past up, she wasn't immediately eager to talk about it.
Now, we can all understand why. So, she did what we sometimes do, she changed the subject. Jesus is talking to her about her sin, and she wants to have a little discussion about worship. She decided to bring up her religious heritage as a sort of smokescreen to hide her failing. So, here we have verses 20 and 24. "Our fathers worshiped on this mountain". She said, Jesus just told her she's a sinner, that she's living in sin, and her answer to that was, "Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, and you Jews say that in Jerusalem is the place where one ought to worship".
What does that have to do with anything? "Jesus said to her, 'Woman, believe Me, the hour is coming when you will neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. The hour is coming, he said, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth".
Instead of talking about her personal life she said, "Hey, Jesus, let's have a discussion about worship". But Jesus corrected her, and he brought her right back to where she jumped off the trail. It is common to use religion as a defense against sin, as I've illustrated with my story about what people say when you ask them about going to heaven, but not so with God. God is seeking those who will worship Him in truth.
Now, notice what happens next. He initiates our responsibility. In verse 25, the woman says to Jesus after he confronts her, the woman said to him, "I know that Messiah is coming who is called the Christ". She says, "I know that he's coming, Messiah is coming who's called the Christ, and when he comes, he will tell us all things". In other words, "I'm not gonna get into this argument. I'm gonna wait for the Messiah to come, and when the Messiah comes, he'll intervene in this discussion we're having and we'll know who's right and who's wrong". And Jesus looked right at her and said to her, "I who speak to you am He".
You talk about a moment in the Bible. The Samaritan woman was about to discover her responsibility. It was personal and spiritual, not traditional and religious. And when Jesus challenged her understanding of worship, she thought it had to be done by going to a certain place. She talked about the Messiah and then Jesus dropped this bombshell. He says to her, "Lady, you don't have to wait for the Messiah, he's here. I who speak to you am he". Can you imagine what she must have thought? I mean, having lived with the anticipation and the expectation of the Messiah's appearance, which was true, she's now being told that the Messiah is the one who just asked her for a drink of water. And the ball was in her court. They had conversed, they had talked about religion and theology.
Now it was time for her to make a personal decision, "Do I reject the Messiah or accept him"? And it is the same decision every individual must make when confronted with the reality of his presence. Let me say this to you, men and women, there is no middle ground when it comes to Jesus, there isn't. You're either for him or you're against him.
You say, "Well, I'm not against Jesus". Well, if you're not for him, you're against him. You say, "Well, I'm just going to be kind of in the middle". No, there's no middle ground. Jesus himself said, "If you're not for me, you're against me. You either become a Christian or you're non Christian. You either are forgiven or you're not forgiven. You either have you guilt or you've given up your guilt to Jesus". Jesus brought this woman to a position where the only situation she had in front of her was, here is Jesus saying he's the Messiah, she either has to accept it or she has to reject it.
Now, by reading the rest of the story, we find out what she did. For now we see how Jesus sends us in verses 27 to 30. "At this point His disciples came back". Jesus is at this well talking to this woman, and because they know the cultural norms, "They marveled that He talked with a woman; yet no one said, 'What do You seek?' or, 'Why are You talking with her?' The woman then left her water pot, went her way into the city, and said to the men, 'Come, see a Man who told me all things that I ever did. Could this be the Christ?' And they went out of the city and came to Him".
Do you think that woman accepted the Messiah? She absolutely did. You know how I know? First thing a person does when they get saved is, they want to go tell somebody. The first thing she did when she realized she had met the Messiah is to go back home and go back and tell these people who she had met. The Bible says she left Jesus present, she went to Sychar, violating every cultural norm. She told the men of the town what had happened and who she had met, and they believed her and returned with her to see Jesus.
She didn't have a very good reputation in Sychar, and she had been married to five of the men who probably were in the group who went back with her to meet Jesus. Yet, in spite of her checkered past, the men of Sychar saw something in this woman that was so different than anything they had ever seen before, that they followed her out of the city to see Jesus.
And then we read finally in verses 39 and 42, "And many of the Samaritans of that city believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, 'He told me all that I ever did.' So when the Samaritans had come to Him, they urged Him to stay with them; and He stayed there two days. And many more believed because of His own word. Then they said to the woman, 'Now we believe, not because of what you said, for we ourselves have heard Him and we know that this is indeed the Christ, the Savior of the world.'"
Here's an interesting thing you may not know about Jesus, the first time the phrase, "The Savior of the world" is used in the Bible, it comes from the lips of the despised Samaritans. The Samaritans are the first to say, "Jesus is the Savior of the world". The outcast Samaritans became the first to call Jesus Christ the Savior of the world, and the whole town was changed because of that conversation Jesus had that day with that woman at the well.
So, where does that leave us when we study this story? I would imagine that if we had time today and you were willing to do it, we could say, "Okay, for the rest of the morning, here's a pad of paper and a pencil. Tell me how Jesus sought you". And you'd all have a story how down through the ages through the past he sought you. It even begins before your own generation. I think of my own life, for instance, my father, Dr. James T. Jeremiah, grew up in a home with an ungodly father, and a mother who was very, very religious, but probably not a believer. He had no possibility of knowing Christ if Jesus Christ hadn't sought him, but he sought him, and you know how he got him?
He lived near a church, and they had a basketball league, and one day he found out that he could go to that church on Saturday and play basketball but in order to do it, there was no cost. He had to go to church on Sunday morning. And my father went and he played in that basketball league, and he went to church. And you want to say he found Jesus, but he didn't find Jesus, Jesus found him. And he took him out of that ungodly family. My grandfather ultimately was saved in the last hours before he died, and he brought my father out of that.
In that very city, there was a Bible college, somehow my dad was instructed he should go to Bible college. He went to Bible college there. He met my mother, and the rest is the story of what's happened to the Jeremiah family, but it all started with God seeking out a man who had no way of ever knowing about Jesus if God hadn't come down and sought him out, and he did it through the strategy of basketball. I can't think of anything that gives me more joy than thinking about that, amen. I want to tell you that Jesus is the Savior of the world, and he is still seeking and saving the lost. He even overcomes the barrier of own stubbornness and resistance.
One last story and we're finished. Mark Alderage's journey with Jesus began when he was in college sitting in the student union with a friend. There's this young hippie-looking guy comes up to him with a big smile on his face and gives them a tract about Jesus. Later, he was living in Philadelphia and dating a young lady who was an airline stewardess, and one day she called him and said she'd met this guy in a plane wearing a T-shirt with a picture of Jesus on it. And she said to the guy, "Don't you think you're being disrespectful wearing a T-shirt with a picture of Jesus on it"? And he told her all about Jesus for the next 15 or 20 minutes.
At that time, Mark wasn't interested in Jesus, but later he moved back to his parents' house, broke and discouraged, and one weekend when his girlfriend was visiting him, she opened the newspaper and said, "Hey, look, here's this guy that I met on the plane. He's speaking at a retreat. Let's go hear this guy. He's the guy that was wearing a Jesus shirt". So they did and afterwards she took him up to meet this guy. And this guy looked at him right in the face and he said, "Have you ever asked Jesus Christ into your heart"? And they had a conversation, and that night Mark accepted Christ.
But the story doesn't end there. Mark and his girlfriend returned to the retreat center the next weekend, and the young man and the young lady were singing some songs before the meeting. And the guy who was leading the worship was the hippie guy who had given him the tract in the student union mission. And he was singing a song about God seeking and saving. Years later, as Mark thought about that young hippie guy, and the tract, and his girlfriend meeting the guy wearing the Jesus T-shirt, all the ways God has sought him out, he wrote the song, "Forever Grateful". Some of the words of the song go like this, "You did not wait for me to draw near to you, but you clothed yourself with frail humanity. You did not wait for me to cry out to you, but you let me hear your voice calling to me and I am forever grateful to you".
Here's an opportunity for us to look back over our shoulder and retrace the steps of Jesus seeking you so that you are where you are today. And if you don't know Jesus Christ, let me tell you something I know about you, Jesus is seeking you. He got you here today. You could be anyplace. You could be on the golf course. You could be watching a little league game. You could be anywhere else, but you're here for this message about the gospel. If you want to know the joy of salvation, listen to your heart, and open your heart and receive Jesus Christ as your Savior. He loves you. He sent his Son to seek and save you. He will not force himself upon you. He will not break down the door of your heart. You have to open it from the inside and say:
Lord Jesus, come into my heart, I acknowledge I'm a sinner. I need to be saved. I want you to be my Savior.