Sermon Summary, from Last Week, Footsteps of Jesus: “Among the Poor, the Sinners, The Outcasts” (John 4:1-20)
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives; recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free.” (Lk 4:18) Thus begin the ministry and mission of Jesus. If we follow in his footsteps we will see him emphasize the poor (Lazarus and the Rich Man (Lk 16:19-31) The sin of the rich man? Not that he didn’t feed the poor, it was that he didn’t even notice him! He didn’t recognize worth, let alone his infinite worth!
And we would see him call even the most egregious sinners to his ministry. Matthew the tax collector, a too of Rome, an extortionist who stole from the people. Zacchaeus too! Jesus changed their lives. Then there was the woman of the world who came to Jesus while he was at the house of Simon the Pharisee and washed Jesus’ feet with her tears and dried them with her hair. Jesus forgave her. Jesus loved her.
Of course we all have our outcasts: The Hatfields had the McCoys; the Bosnians the Serbs; the Sunnis have the Shiites; and the Jews had the Samaritans. The hated Samaritans were a bastardized race who had a bastardized religion. A good Jew would not even go through Samaria lest he get unclean soil on his sandals. But Jesus did. Jesus had a divine appointment with an outcast, the “Woman at the Well.”
We find her coming to the well alone in the heat of the day, ostracized by the village woman. A woman who had be cast aside by five men and living now with a man not her husband. Knowing all this, Jesus asked her for a drink, then offered her spiritual water that would be hers eternally. Taking him literally she replied, “You don’t even have a bucket, how are you going to get this stuff?” (paraphrased) Jesus tells her he is the Messiah (the very first person to whom he reveals his identity), excited, she leaves her jar and rushes into town to tell the others. They come out to the well and ask Jesus to stay and teach them, and he stays two more days.
In this simple act, in his first year of ministry, Jesus tears down all the barriers, all of them: Men, women, race, gender, culture, religion, all of them. Who are our outcasts? Who can enrich our lives if we would just get to know them? And who if we will invest in someone beyond our church, can we offer living water?