The Truth

This is the fifteenth message in a series on Jesus’ encounter with the woman at the well recorded in John 4.

Dear Friends:

Then the woman left her water jar and went back into the city. She said to the people, “Come and see a man who told me everything that I have ever done! He cannot be the Messiah, can he? Then they left the city and were on their way to him. (Jn 4:28-30).

“Everything” is known about her and precisely because it has been brought out in the noonday light, it has lost its dark, oppressive grip on her soul. Nothing seems the same. It is as if she has awakened from a coma.

Job emerged from the fog of suffering, doubt and self-absorption and said to God, “Wow! I had heard of you with head knowledge, but now I see you in my heart and it devastates me with a desire for your difference” (Job 42:3-6, my paraphrase). She feels like that.

“This Living Water is great stuff!” She leaves her old water jar behind when she leaves for the city. It had brought her to Jesus, but now she didn’t need it. When you possess the spring, you don’t need the canteen.

“What is this strange feeling, exactly? It’s joy. . . incredible!” She has to tell someone. That is her sudden, overwhelming urge .

The townspeople, especially the women, have held her past against her. This shame has defined her life right down to her everyday trudge out to the well alone

No more! Forget all that now! The locals wouldn’t speak to her and shunned her with silence. But now she talks to them with a surprising message, “I’ve met a man who told me everything about me like he’s known me all my life–EVERYTHING! Could he be the Messiah?”

In our day, someone who has been overwhelmed by grace and kindness in the face of great shame might ask, “Could this be Jesus?”

Indeed, he fills your heart until you want to leave the old buckets and bottles behind to run ahead. A changed and open heart is the wellspring of new life shared together (compare 2 Cor 6:11). You, who were so fixed on just getting yourself by, now want to share this blessing with others so they can experience the joy too.

What makes the Living Water “live” is the Spirit of God blowing across it as on the first day of Creation (Gen 1:2; Jn 3:5-8). Thirsty people come for the drink and are swept away together by the tsunami of grace.

“He has told me everything that I’ve done.” The bared soul is an absolute essential in a life with God. If we cling to our secrets and maintain our pride, he cannot cleanse and fill us. David prayed in repentance,”You desire truth in the inward being. . . Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. . . The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise” (Ps. 51:6-7, 17). Cleansing is the first step in the new life with Christ.

Confession keeps the community of believers real, accountable and healthy. “Confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed” (Js 5:8). This blessing has been obscured to this age along with the sense of sin that compels the confession. It has been hidden behind a haze of humanistic teachings and pop-psychology fads ranging from existentialism to the self-esteem movement, excusing sin as mental illness or addiction or the product of genetic and environmental determinism of evolution. These alternatives deceptively contend that we are excused rather than pardoned. They deny human freedom of choice.

Without choice there is no confession. Without confession there is no forgiveness. Without forgiveness there is no freedom before God and others. The First Letter of John tells us succinctly that there is no other way to salvation and the community of faith except entry through our honest confession of sin into the light of Christ.

This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light and in him there is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him while we are walking in darkness, we lie and do not do what is true, but if we walk in the light as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us (1 Jn 1:5-10)

One of the words used by Scripture and believers for the gospel is “The Truth.” Introducing someone to Jesus as the promised Messiah is referred to as “Bringing her to the Truth.” Jesus knew what she had done in the past. The townsfolk knew a lot about what she had done. Now, with joy and without sad defensiveness, she acknowledges the truth with her own lips and gives credit to Jesus for making an honest woman out of her. The authenticity of her testimony compels them to want to meet Jesus for themselves.

That’s the way it is in my experience. It’s been a blessing for me to lead a number of men and women to meet and receive Christ as their Savior and Lord and it has been authentic, unpretentious testimony of who Christ is and what he has done for me that has made the connection.

When I have tried to reach people with formulas, principles and doctrines, I have been answering questions that they aren’t asking. It was like trying to sell fur parkas to residents of Tahiti. They weren’t buying it.

When I have said, “This is who I am, warts and all, this is what I have done, but this is the difference that Jesus Christ has made in me and for me, they often say, “Tell me more. How can I know him too.”

The woman leaves the water jar behind when she goes to share Jesus because she has become the vessel, nothing fancy, just the credibility of an experienced, flawed, grateful woman sharing the truth. That’s what the Apostle Paul is talking about when he writes to the Corinthian believers:

We have renounced the shameful things that one hides; we refuse to practice cunning or to falsify God’s word; but by the open statement of the truth we commend ourselves to the conscience of everyone in the sight of God . . .  For we do not proclaim ourselves, we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord . . .For it is the God who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us (2 Cor 4:2,5-7).

You can look it up for yourselves, but Jesus usually faced arguments in the synagogue and at the temple. Generally, those encounters ended with plots or efforts to kill him. He won people’s hearts in fishing boats, hillsides, market places, living rooms, campfires, pig farms, city streets, dinner parties, tax collector’s offices, and here at the town well. In other words, he appeals to people in the everyday reality of their lives. He comes for those who need him, where they need him.

The week of his crucifixion,Jesus told the priests and the elders that the despised prostitutes and tax collectors would enter the kingdom of God before them because they believed they needed God, but the religious leaders believed that their position, knowledge and virtue were enough (Matt 21:28-32). His invitation is to all of us, but can only be accepted by the honest.

“Come to me all of you who are exhausted, stressed-out, hassled, insecure, working too hard and carrying loads beyond your strength, and I will give you rest. You will find the connection with me won’t jerk you around and walking in step with me won’t blister your feet. Learn from me that it is so much easier to live with me than without me because I will carry your load and you can lean on me all the way” (Matt 11:28-32, my paraphrase).

This story began with conflict and prejudice. Harsh judgments were the rule. Now ,In the village of Sychar, on this hot afternoon, the men and women, boys and girls, are excited to find out through the most unlikely of their citizens the truth. God loves them and comes to them personally, not in Jerusalem or on their own holy mountain, but right where they live. There is no greater or healing truth than that–for us too (Jn 3:16) Receive it for what it is. Receive him for who he is.

As I wrote this message a favorite song of mine ran through my mind. Here it is. I hope it speaks to you the essence of what I am writing about.

BID THEM COME

By David Teems

This worlds overdue for getting crazy
tensions had to rise
there’s a trembling earth beneath my feet
and a trembling in the skies
So keep your eyes upon us, Lord
Please hear this final prayer
There’s a multitude yet to come to you
and I know they’re out there.

Bid them come, Lord Jesus, Bid them come
Bid them come, Lord Jesus, Bid them come
Bring the hungry to your table
the shattered to your feet
and those on paths of desperation
Bid them come

When I consider all this madness
and poor attempts to reconcile
at times my understanding is no greater than a child’s
So I’ll gather with you weary
and I’ll gather with you weak
with you exposed and unprotected
who long to hear them speak…

Bid them come, Lord Jesus, Bid them come
Bid them come, Lord Jesus, Bid them come
Bring the hungry to your table
the shattered to your feet
and those on paths of desperation
Bid them come

© MCMXCIII Penn Avenue Publishing / BMI Rory Knapton Music / BMI
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

“O taste and see that the Lord is good. Happy are those who take refuge in him (Ps 34:8).

Under the mercy of Christ,

Kent

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