LORD’S DAY MORNING SERVICE, 10 November 2019
Sermon Text: John 4:41-42
I. The nature of the gospel
II. The power of the gospel
III. Jesus is indeed the Saviour of the world
Yesterday was the hottest day since the beginning of this spring. And I guess it was a hot and dry day like yesterday when Jesus with His disciples arrived at a town in the region of Samaria. It was noon, the hottest time of the day. Jesus stayed by the well and His disciples went to the town to buy some food. At this thirsty and hungry moment, Jesus met a woman who came to draw water from the well. It is known to us that the usual practice of the people of Jesus’ time in the Palestine was to draw water at either earlier or later time than in the middle of the day. Meeting her at an unusual time at an unusual place, this well-known Jesus’ conversation with a sinner took place. Soon, this woman realised that the One she had been speaking with was the Messiah the Scriptures promised. So, forgetting her original intention of drawing water, she ran to the town and told everyone about this Man, and the people of that town came to meet Jesus. They invited Him to stay with them. Jesus went and stayed with them for two day. Meanwhile, He brought to them the gospel, that is, the good news of salvation. Hearing Him, many people in that Samaritan town believed in Jesus and professed at the end, saying that Jesus is indeed ‘the Saviour of the world.’
This is a well-known story of the Bible and it teaches us to see Jesus who is the Saviour of the world and to hear His good news delivered to the ears of all sinners. In other words, how Jesus changes sinners to be the saints of God’s kingdom through His gospel, freeing them from their bondage to sin and from their fear of death. We also need to see how Jesus through His gospel enables the forgiven sinners to confess boldly and say that Jesus is the Saviour of the world!
I. THE NATURE OF THE GOSPEL
So, let us begin with the message He delivered to us and consider its nature. First of all, the gospel of Jesus Christ understands who we are as human beings. In other words, Jesus gently offers His gospel to us, knowing our frailty and earthliness.
The story of Jesus speaking to a Samaritan woman by the well is a good example of this. Here, Jesus begins His conversation with the woman, talking about a drink – “Give me a drink,” He says. I believe you’d agree with me that drawing water from the well to quench thirst was the best interest of that woman at that moment. And that’s the beginning of Jesus’ gospel message delivered to her. Because water and thirst were her best interest, she immediately responds to the Lord and says, “How is it that You, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” Then, Jesus tells her that if she knew who it is that is saying to her, she would’ve asked Him and received from Him ‘living water.’ Now, her interest is gradually shifted from her bodily thirst to spiritual thirst.
Likewise, the gospel of Jesus gently opens up each sinner’s heart. Because fallen men are unable to comprehend the things of the spiritual realm, unable to grasp their desperate need of a Saviour, the gospel of Jesus does not force sinners to accept what is offered in the gospel; Jesus begins His salvation gently rather than harshly in a browbeating, intimidating way. Consider how He began His salvation in Saul who later became the apostle Paul. When he was on the road to Damascus, he was a fierce enemy of Christ and all Christians, yet, he received Jesus’ message gently and caringly, hearing this: “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” Peter and Andrew while they were casting a net into the Sea of Galilee heard the Lord’s message, “Follow Me, for I will make you fishers of men.” Knowing our fallen nature, the saving message of Jesus grabs our attention, then leads each one to realise the humanity’s ultimate interest, that is, ‘salvation’ from sin and death, thus, ‘life everlasting.’ I believe all of you remember how Jesus began His salvation in your life. Gently He came to you, grabbing your attention and leading you to finally grasp what you really and truly need in and through Jesus and believing in Him!
Another important aspect of the gospel we need to know is that it exposes human sins, it reveals each one’s sins. Yet, again, in a gentle and tender way like what happened to this woman by the well in Samaria. After a few more words, she asked Jesus to give her His ‘living water,’ then, the Lord asks her to bring her husband. She must’ve understood that Jesus is asking her to share a good thing with the one she loves. Then, she replies and says, “I have no husband.” To me, she sounds like she would have that ‘good’ thing of Jesus by herself as the man with her now is not really her husband, not the one she really cares for and loves. Then, the Lord reminds her of her sinful heart and, through that sinful heart, her sinfulness, her ultimate need of a Saviour. She has had five husbands and the one with her at the present is not her husband either. Likewise, Jesus’ message exposes man’s sin; His message shines on people and their hearts and, by shining on, exposes each one’s sins. This is what the apostle John testifies in Jn. 1:4-5, “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness …” and v. 9 describes this light that shines as ‘the true light which gives light to everyone.’
A typical example of this nature of the gospel is recorded in Acts ch. 2. This happened in Jerusalem. The apostle Peter stood and preached to the people of Jerusalem. What he delivered was a simple message of Jesus who came to die to be the Lord and Saviour. Acts 2:36 summaries the message Peter delivered to them in these words: “Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” When this gospel of Jesus was shone on them, this happened to all people, “Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart.” ‘Cut to the heart’ means, they saw their sins exposed to the light of the gospel, like the darkest side of a cave was completely opened to the bright, glaring sunlight.
In this way, Christ’ message delivered to us understands who we are and what we are, thus, guides us sinners gently and carefully, yet, exposes our sins clearly and thoroughly.
II. THE POWER OF THE GOSPEL
In fact, such exposure of sin is the power of the gospel. Having exposed sins, the gospel removes sins from sinners. So, the Bible tells us that “faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”
Let’s come back to the story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman and think about this power of the gospel. Hearing Jesus’ invitation to His ‘living water,’ hearing Jesus telling her that He is the Messiah, she leaves her jar, runs to the town and tells everyone, saying, “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” Her act and words prove to us that she has experienced forgiveness, the removal of her sins. How can we be so sure about that? Because of two obvious reasons.
Firstly, she runs back to the town and grabs everyone she meets and tells them what happened, what she has heard, and most importantly, what has happened to her heart, mind and soul! This proves her experience of removal of her sins. She is a well-known person among the towners probably because of her immoral life. Many Bible commentators interpret her coming to the well at noon, unlike the rest of the villagers, was due to her ill-reputation, thus, a way to minimise her chance to meet people of her town. But, now, she runs through the streets and shouts to people, telling them what has just happened. She also invites them to come to the man she met at the well. This change means something great has happened to her inwardly. And that’s the removal of her sins, forgiveness! I pray that all of you and all people in this world know this inward change, called, forgiveness.
To this Samaritan woman of Jn. 4:29, her ill-repute, shame, memories of frustration mean nothing. Instead, her heart is filled with what she has just found – the removal of her sins!
A similar thing happened to an Elder I know who is now in glory with the Lord and he shared with me his vivid memory of such a joy in the Lord he had experienced many years ago. It was in India while he was serving the RAAF during the WWII. His conscience was attacked by Satan because of his sins and he couldn’t sleep for a week. It almost drove him to the very beginning of madness in despair. During this week-long struggle, he madly read and searched his Bible to find any comfort. Then, Rom. 8:31 and following was opened to him which says, “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him graciously give us all things? Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies.” He was in a meeting room when his eyes caught these words, but with the joy of forgiveness and confidence in the Lord, he put his Bible over his shoulder, as if he was showing that page to the devil behind him, and shouted, ‘Look, Satan! You can’t accuse me of my sins; my sins are all cleansed in the blood of Jesus!’ His mind and soul were glad, filled with the joy of all his sins removed once and for all in Jesus! The gospel of Jesus exposes and removes sins of sinners, and such is the power of the gospel.
Removing sins, the gospel also enables sinners to say ‘good-bye’ to sin. The Samaritan woman’s shouting on the streets, bringing her past life to the very surface of the public’s conscious, was her way of saying ‘good-bye’ to her past life! She knows that it is gone and no longer counts. In fact, such is exactly what happens to every Christian; all worshippers of Jesus are so freed from their past life because their former way of life in sin is no longer counted. Telling others something like, ‘I was a terrible sinner before Jesus saved me and washed my sins away,’ is of no problem at all. John Newton who wrote, ‘Amazing grace,’ one of the great hymns, was so cool about his former life as a slave trader. A Christian man whose personal testimony I read recently from an article was so clear about his former life in the sin of homosexuality. No one who has not experienced the power of Jesus’ gospel that removes sins can share such a story with the world – but for all whose souls are revived by the power of this message of Christ’s saving blood, their former way of life in sin is a story of their old-self, not of their new-self. About this old and new-self, Rom. 6:6-7 is so clear in these words, “We know that our old self was crucified with [Christ] in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin.”
Moreover, the good news produces confession and testimony from the believing hearts. This is also the power of the gospel. The Samaritan woman said to the people, “Can this be the Christ?” Those towners believed in Jesus through her testimony, but, soon, having listened to Jesus, they confess their faith firmly based on their own hearing of Him. Listen to their words of testimony in v. 42, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Saviour of the world.”
I regard the confession these Samaritans made as equally significant as that of the apostle Peter recorded in Mt. 16:16, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” The Samaritan confession in Jn. 4 is the only place in the four-fold gospels that refers to Jesus as this title, ‘the Saviour of the world.’
Such is the power of the good news of Jesus. It exposes and removes our sins, and enables us to profess and say that Jesus is indeed our Saviour and of the world!
III. JESUS IS INDEED THE SAVIOUR OF THE WORLD
This message is delivered to the world through Jesus. None other, but Jesus has delivered this good and joyful message. No one before Him and none after Him. All prophets and judges and kings of the OT drew people’s eyes to this Jesus to come and urged all to attend their ears to His message. All apostles and teachers of the NT bring everyone’s allegiance to Christ and His gospel.
Moreover, He alone is the message. His blood cleanses the sins of many; He is the One who saves His people from their sins. No sin is there Jesus cannot forgive; no one is there Jesus cannot save or bring into His eternal kingdom. All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to Him, and His authority is over life and death. So, He alone is the message of eternal life, as the apostle Peter testifies in Acts 4:12, “there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
So, in Mt. 11:28, Jesus invites all sinners to Him, saying, “Come to Me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” He repeats it in Jn. 7:37-38, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” His invitation to His comfort of eternal life is for all who are thirsty, all who are hungry for their life, all who haven’t found a comfort of their souls in this world.
So, the challenge is this – and this challenge is our conclusion for today and all the days of each one’s life – that you come to Jesus, and listen to Him, hear the good news of His death on the cross through which He paid the penalty for your sins, and whoever believes in Him, confessing that He is the Son of God and your Saviour, He’ll be Your Lord and your bondage to your master, that is, Satan, will be permanently broken!
Try Him, the Christ! Come to Him and listen to Him! And that, today, when you hear this challenge. For all who have come to Him, listen carefully to Him in order to receive the power of His message which enables you to make a confession just like that of the Samaritans, and say, ‘It is no longer because of what others said that I believe, for I have heard for myself, and know that Jesus is indeed the Saviour of the world!’ ***