Stuck Week 2: Life Sentence

Sermon Transcript

[Video]

Here I am again. Just stuck. Hey, can you see me? Can you not tell that I’m upside down? Someone help me get out of this. How long will it take to flip over? I don’t even know where to start, so maybe I should just give up. Why do I feel like I’m the only one here? It would be really nice if someone could help me get unstuck. Score.

[End Video]

Well, good morning to everybody, and good morning, also, to those who watch via the internet and the mobile app. We’re in a series called “Stuck.” I don’t know if there’s any more of a practical series that we could do because we all do get stuck in our life at times, whether it’s making a decision and not knowing where to go or what to do, or maybe we get stuck at the job, or we get stuck in a relationship or there are things that go on that we don’t know what to do. And, obviously, we want to get unstuck. So, at the beginning of every sermon that I do in a series, I try to lay out a big idea. So, in case if you missed last week when we started the series, you feel like you’re caught up with what we’re doing, this is the big idea that we’re going to look at over the next several weeks.

This right here: Learn how to get unstuck when we’re stuck, so when we get stuck, we don’t stay stuck. Right? That’s what we want to do. And I think that we can all relate to this. There’s no question. But here’s what I want to do, and I don’t do this normally. Also, if you’re watching via the internet and the mobile app, this is for you as well. I don’t usually ask everybody to just lean in for the first part here, and to really listen to this because this is really important that you hear what I say. I’m going to speak on a subject this weekend, on an issue this weekend, that people get stuck in. When I start talking about it, some of you are going to be like, “Oh, man. He’s really calling me out. This is a real sensitive issue.”

And you’re going to want those walls to sort of go up, and I don’t want them to go up because I want you to hear me. I’ve prayed that you would not just hear my words, but that you would sense the empathy that is coming, that you would sense that there’s no, in any way, shape or form, trying to make anybody feel bad, guilty or any of that stuff at all because it’s not what it’s coming from. But this is an issue that people struggle with, and we never talk about it and we don’t share it because it’s this deep stuff. We call it a life sentence. What that is is it’s something that we’ve done in our lives that we don’t want anybody to know at all that we did it.

Maybe it was a criminal thing that we did. Maybe it was a divorce. Maybe it was something that we did to someone. Maybe it was something that’s been done to us. And we carry it everywhere we go. We could be listening to a song and it may go away for a while, you may come to church and it may go away for a while, but it’s always there. It’s like it’s just a weight that you carry.

And so many people, Christians and non-Christians alike — if you’re here today and you’re not even a Christian, you just showed up and you’re like, “Hey, I wanted to check out this church,” you can relate too. We can all relate. There are so many people that carry, in their lives, something that has gone on and it’s just there all the time and we don’t want to talk about it. Because if we shared it, if we said, “Hey, this is part of who I am,” we wonder could anybody love us or what would they think about us if they knew it? And we carry it around. And here’s what I want to say to you, because I think I have good news. Jesus, as great as this is — and please don’t, in any way, shape or form say that what I’m getting ready to say here is — I mean, because this is massive. He died on a cross to forgive us of our sins. I mean, if that’s all He did, that would be awesome. Rose again on the third day so that we could have everlasting life. Those are awesome. I’m not trying to take away from that or diminish that at all, but I want you to know that I don’t believe that Jesus just died on a cross and rose again so that we could get eternity settled and that we could have our sins forgiven. I believe He also died and rose from the grave so that we don’t have to carry life sentences with us for the rest of our lives. I think there is healing and grace for those things.

So, if you find yourself there and you’re like, “Oh, man. If there’s any way I could just get this baggage, this weight that I carry off, it would be incredible.”

Well, I’d like to suggest, and I’d like to submit to you — lean in here because I think that you’re going to hear some things today that could massively help you in your life. And if you’re watching via the internet or mobile app, I believe this can change your life as well.

But before we get there, because I want to tell you a story out of the Gospel of John about a woman that is carrying a life sentence in her life. And I want to show you how that story works and what Jesus does, and I’m hoping that it’s massive to some of you all when we talk about that. But before we get there, because I’ve got to set this up, I need to talk to you a little bit about reading Scripture. I hope that you sense this in me if you’re a regular attender. I hope you know that not only do I try to give you practical stuff that will change your life and equip you in your life, but I also do my best to go through large passages of Scripture so that we learn to read Scripture together and learn how to read it correctly because it’s easy to read Scripture wrong. I can assure you of that. It’s more difficult to read it correct and figure out what’s going on.

And I think that by and large — and this is nobody’s fault. It’s just the truth. I think, by and large, most Christians, especially in the West or in America, are not really prepared for reading Scripture in the best possible ways. That’s why I spend a lot of time reading Scripture, as your pastor. And the reason I believe that is because of this: I know for a fact — it’s not a question in my mind — that the New Testament writers, they don’t just put it in there. They assume, it is an assumption that they make, that when you’re reading the New Testament, that you know the Old Testament very well. And I would just tell you that, by and large, most Christians in America don’t know the Old Testament very well. We just don’t. I mean, Leviticus is a deal killer when you’re reading the Bible. You know what I mean? It’s like, “I’m done.” You get to Ezekiel and you’re like, “I’m moving to Colorado and smoking with them to understand this book.”

You know? Whatever. Because, I mean, it is. It’s challenging. And then you’ve got people on TV and read books that are like, “Old Testament is all this law junk. You’ve got to get out of the Old Testament and get into the New Testament,” as if this is bad and this is good. This is the bad God back here, and now this is the good God. And, of course, atheists and people that are out there in the world eat our lunch when you have a duel God going on in Scripture. But most Christians are really ill equipped to deal with some of the issues of the Old Testament because they just sort of think it’s this antiquated stuff.

It’s not. It’s loaded in the New Testament. Everything in the New Testament is watermarked with the Old Testament. What’s a watermark? Well, a watermark, if you’ve ever seen a sheet of paper, you look at it and it looks like a sheet of paper. But you hold it up to the light, and when you hold it up to the light, you see there’s a watermark there, or the name of the paper company. It’s there. You can’t see it here, but you can see it when you hold it up to the light. Well, in the New Testament, every story, every epistle, is drawing on Old Testament stuff. If you don’t know the Old Testament, you’re probably going to be misreading a large, good portion of the New Testament by not understanding the Old Testament. You say, “Well, why in the world would they include the Old Testament in the New Testament?”

Because the Old Testament is all about Jesus. It’s all about Jesus. That’s what Jesus said Himself in Luke 24. Go home and read it. He says, “All Moses and the prophets, starting with them, He showed things concerning Himself.”

The Gentile churches. You go, “Yeah, but how would the Gentile churches...”

No. The Gentile churches knew about the Old Testament because when Paul would plant a Gentile church, the only stories he could tell these people were Old Testament stories. They all knew the Old Testament because it wasn’t this book that you just throw away. You know? And we’ve done such a disservice and damage to the Gospel by not understanding the Old Testament.

We have. We’ve just separated the two. Like, “This is good. This is bad.” So, what I want to show you here, because we’re going to get in John, I want to show you how heavily influenced — shortly here, not a lot of time — the Old Testament is in the Gospel of John so that when we go to the story and we start unpacking this, you’ll understand that you can read the story, and it’s a great story, but then you can really read the story with the watermark and it’s like, “Whoa. This is a really powerful story.”

So, let’s look at John. John starts off with “in the beginning.” Now, that may not mean anything to you. You may not have ever read Scripture. You may be here today going, “I’m not really a Bible guy or Bible girl.” That’s fine. No problem with that. You are welcome here. You can belong here before you believe. All that great stuff. But I just would like to draw attention to you that “in the beginning” is not just found in John 1:1. It’s also found in Genesis 1:1. And you might say, “Well, that’s a coincidence.” It’s not a coincidence. John puts it there because he is drawing heavily on Genesis throughout his entire Gospel. He’s also drawing heavily on the Old Testament in his entire Gospel. So, what do we know? If we’re linking John 1:1 with Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning,” what happens in Genesis 1? What is “in the beginning” about? Well, “in the beginning” is the creation story. The creation story is a story of how God created the world in seven days. And we’re not here to debate what those days were, periods and all that stuff. None of that. We just need to know that there’s seven days of creation. That’s a fact. We can debate the other things about it, but we definitely know that there were recorded seven days of creation.

So, it shouldn’t surprise anybody, because the Gospel writers can write however they want. They can choose to write the way that they want. It shouldn’t surprise you, when you get to the Gospel of John, that John starts off with seven straight days. You probably didn’t notice that when you read it, but he does. Day one starts off in John 1:19-28. And we know that it’s day one because day two, in John 2:29, John tells us it’s the next day. So, there are two days. The next day, there’s this one, and this one. Well then, we get to day three here in John 1:35 and we’re told again it’s the next day. Why’s he doing this? I mean, he doesn’t have to tell you it’s the next day. A lot of the Gospel writers don’t tell you that at all. They just give you these stories. John’s intentional here. He’s giving you seven days.

Day four. You see it in John 1:43. It says, “The next day Jesus wanted to go to Galilee.” Then we have Him in Galilee and we don’t have any next day stuff until we get to John 2:1 where we’re told it’s the third day. Well, the third day encapsulates day five, six and seven. And this is awesome because John 2:1 starts off with the third day and a seventh day in John, and he’s telling us something. I don’t have time to develop that. But I just want you to see that it’s not a coincidence that he starts off with seven days.

On top of that, look at some of the themes. I don’t have time to develop all this because I want to get to the story. I just want you to see how impactful the Old Testament is on these Gospel writers. If you start off in Genesis 1:4, there’s a separation of like and darkness. He separated light from darkness. Well, in John 1:4-5 there’s an incompatibility of light and darkness. He knows what he’s drawing from. He’s making some points here to us. In Genesis 8, you have the dove descends to earth and doesn’t return to the Ark, indicating that the waters have receded, and now there’s the emergence of the dry ground, the new earth again.

Well, John immediately has Jesus having a dove descend on Him at His baptism, emblemizing the beginning of the new creation. On top of that, the Lord God drives man out of the garden. Early on in John, and scholars don’t know why, but Jesus is driving the money changers out of the temple. And we know that that happened later on. Why does John insert it here? Because John’s writing a literary thing to explain something about who Jesus is. He’s drawing from the Old Testament and assuming that we know the Old Testament so that he can make points to us as we read. If we don’t know the Old Testament, we might just miss all of these things as we’re going through.

On top of that, John takes us visually in his gospel, from the start to the finish, step by step, chronologically in his Gospel, through the tabernacle. If you know anything about the tabernacle, the tabernacle was where God — you can see the cloud up there — would meet. Heaven and earth would meet in the tabernacle. It was this portable tent that they would put together. God would show up and there’s heaven and earth joined together. And then they’d disassemble it and they’d travel a little bit. They just walked in circles a lot. If you ever read the Old Testament, that’s where NASCAR was started.

Anyway, this temple was like the portable presence of God. It’s where God was at. And that’s important because in Genesis 1, heaven and earth are created together. Genesis 3, they’re separated. So, where’s the point that heaven and earth touch? Well, it’s the tabernacle. Then it becomes the temple. Then it becomes Jesus. Then it becomes you and me. We’re the temple. Singular. I carry God in me. You carry God in you. And we’re the temple as the Church. We are the portable presence of God as we go into the world. All of this is moving. It’s there. It marches through and it’s all important to understand.

Well, John takes us through the tabernacle in his Gospel. He starts off in John 1:14 letting us know that the Word became flesh — this is Jesus — and He dwelt, some translations say. Some translations say He tabernacled. Some translations say He pitched His tent. The Greek word is a word that would refer to a tent. Jesus is this portable tabernacle walking around with the presence of God. Everywhere He goes is like the presence of God in Him. He’s God and man, but He’s the tabernacle. He dwelt among us. Now, knowing that Jesus is the tabernacle, we’ve got fixtures here. We’ve got the altar of burnt offering. If you walked into the tabernacle, this is the first thing here. What happened there? What happened there is lambs would be sacrificed. Lambs would be lifted up and sacrificed for sin. Well, it shouldn’t surprise you, if John’s walking us through the tabernacle, that early on in the Gospel of John, Jesus is the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. It shouldn’t surprise us by John 3 that He’s being lifted up because He is the sacrifice for the altar of burnt offering.

On top of that, we have the laver here that has the water in it. The bronze laver, the laver of cleansing. And John uses water all through, but it shouldn’t be surprising, as we’re moving through, that in John 4 He’s the living water. He’s the cleansing water. That’s who He is. Next, we get to the table of showbread. What’s the table of showbread? Well, that’s where there were 12 loaves of bread signifying provision for the 12 tribes of Israel. That’s what they were there for, that God would provide. Well, in the New Testament, Jesus becomes Israel Himself because He goes to Egypt and is called out of Egypt. We read that in Matthew 2, like Israel. And God says, “I’ve called my Son out of Egypt.” He’s taking on all the things of Israel within Himself, and then He reconstitutes the 12 tribes around Him by the twelve disciples.

So, what happens is in John 6 where Jesus is the bread of life, He does a miracle. The miracle is incredible. He feeds all these people loaves and fish. It’s like an incredible miracle. We read that. “Whoa. That’s cool.”

No. The cool miracle — I mean, that’s a miracle in and of itself, but the real miracle is when they take up the fragments and there’s 12 baskets. Provision for the 12 disciples. It’s not just written there for no reason. It’s very intentional.

And we have the lamp stand. The lamp stand was seven lights, seven candles, if you will, that gave light into the holy place so that there was always light there. Shouldn’t be surprising that as we continue to move through Scripture, Jesus is the light of the world and there’s no darkness in Him. He’ll have light of life. It’s very incredible that since there’s seven lamps on the lamp stand, that John records seven specific usages of a verb here in John 9 where we have a young man who cannot see. Remember, the candles are there so that you can see. And we have seven specific times — by accident or by choice? By choice, I’m sure. Seven times where his eyes were opened. Now he can see.

Let’s continue on. We have the altar of incense. This is where the priests would pray. Well, there’s not one commentary on John that doesn’t realize in John 17 that we have the high priestly prayer of Jesus. That’s what it’s always been called. He prays for all those that will believe, all those that are a part of His Church. He prays for all of those that will believe in John 17. And we’re told He lifts up His eyes towards heaven and He prays this magnificent prayer. And then we have the holy of holies where the Ark of the Covenant was. The Ark of the Covenant was this box where these angelic beings were on one side, sort of looking down upon the top of the box where blood would be placed once a year. The mercy seat for the atonement for sins. And it was almost like they looked down in wonderment as to this whole thing. Well, it shouldn’t surprise you that John, the way he writes, the way he uses his vocabulary, which is a little strange — it’s not strange if you understand what’s going on here. He says that Mary Magdalene saw two angels in white sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet of where He had laid. We’ve just walked into the holy of holies.

Do you want to have your mind really blown? The high priest is a woman. Hey, the Bible will mess up your theology. Okay? Don’t read it because it might mess you up. No. Do read it. You know what I’m saying. But we see that.

So, why do I say all that? Why do I preface? Because I want you to see that — I mean, we can go through Galatians. Galatians is all about the Exodus. He’s delivered us from this present evil world. All this is deliverance. It’s all deliverance things. You’re no longer slaves, you’re sons, in Galatians 4. It’s all related to the Old Testament. Everything. I could go through one after the other. That’s why in Corinthians they’re sinning really bad. He tells them, “Hey, you need to pay attention. You don’t want to be in Corinthians 10, like the people that came out of Egypt. He saved those out of Egypt, and later they all died in the wilderness. Don’t act like that.”

All this stuff is pregnant with Old Testament. It’s just all through. If you don’t know the Old Testament, you probably miss half the things that you’re reading in the New Testament, especially when you take the tact, and a lot of people do, of that’s just old, bad stuff. “It’s just all bad stuff back there.”

It’s not. It’s not old, bad stuff at all. It’s all about Jesus. So, let’s now get into a story. Now that we go, “Whoa. A lot of Old Testament just in John,” now let’s start a story here. We’re going to read through it and then we’ll look at the watermark after we’ve read through the story.

“So he came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the field that Jacob had given to his son Joseph.”

Now, we’re told in John 4 that Jesus had to go through Samaria. That would not be the normal route a Jewish person would take because they didn’t have a great relationship with the Samaritans. It was quicker to get to Jerusalem, but that would not be the way that you would normally go. So, He’s gone through Samaria here, and He’s near a field that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. It doesn’t even explain that. It just assumes that you sort of know who those people are. If you don’t know who those people are, the text becomes a little bit more problematic. You’ve got to go back and figure out who they are. Near the field that Jacob had given to his son Joseph.

“Jacob’s well was there.”

That’s important to know. Now we’ve got “Jacob” twice. So, Jacob’s well was there.

We’re told, “So Jesus, wearied as he was from his journey, was sitting beside the well.”

Well, this is beautiful because John wants you and me to see that Jesus is not only God — in John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God and the Word was God.” And He became flesh, John 1:14, and dwelt among us. Tabernacled among us. He’s God. But He’s at the well here and He’s wearied. He’s also a man.

I teach systematic theology and my students will go, “Chip, how can Jesus be fully God and fully man?” I look at them and they’re expecting this great answer from their professor with all these degrees, and I go, “I don’t know, but that’s what Scripture says and I believe that by faith.” And they’re like, “Well, well...”

I’m like, “No, no, no. If I could explain it to you, you would no longer have a faith. You’d have a knowledge.” I just know it’s true. There’s no question John wants us to see Jesus is wearied. He’s a man, but he also wants us to see that He’s God. He’s fully God and He’s fully man. That’s what He is. If you want to get really cool, it’s called the hypostatic union in theology. That $2.35 will get you a cup of coffee at Dunkin’ Donuts. Anyway, He’s sitting beside the well, and then we’re told an interesting little tidbit here. This is a really important tidbit.

“It was about the sixth hour.”

Well, that’s not just thrown in there. For you and me, the sixth hour would be noon. Well, that’s pregnant with a lot of meaning. If you know the first century, you would know nobody goes to the well at noon. You don’t do that. It’s hot. God’s calling right now, saying, “Listen to this boy. He’s telling you some good things.” Okay? So, we’re at the well. It’s noon. Jesus is there. He’s wearied. It’s hot. You shouldn’t be expecting anybody to be there because you come at the well in the morning and the evening. That’s when you come to draw water. So, you should be knowing all these things. This is first century background and culture here at this point.

“A woman from Samaria came to draw after.”

That’s an anomaly. Like, why is she here at noon? Why has she showed up by herself? Something’s not right. One day, I know, because on those Apple phones you can look at it and it can see your face. It opens up and it’s really cool. I know we’re going to get Bibles one day, as we read, it’s going to see where we’re reading. When we get to this verse, it’s going to have music that’s going to go, “Dun, dun, dun.”

That’s what you should be thinking. A woman from Samaria? This is going to be interesting. It’s a Samaritan. He’s a Jew. I mean, this is going to be really crazy. And why is she showing up in the middle of the day?

“A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, ‘Give me a drink.’”

That’s interesting. Why does Jesus ask for a drink? It’s great. You read commentaries and they’ve all got all these great — I’ll give you the reason why Jesus tells the woman, “Give me a drink.” Because He knows in serving Him she will find the salvation of her soul. He says, “Give me a drink.” John, because he wants to make sure that nobody misunderstands, does two inserts back to back here to make sure that nobody misunderstands.

He says, “(For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.)”

He’s like, “Look, when they left Jesus by the well, they didn’t think that a lady would show up and talk to Jesus, because that would just be inappropriate without there being other people to be around.” He’s saying, “Look, this is an anomaly. This is something that God set up,” but He’s wanting you to understand this is not normal because they’d gone away, it was noon, nobody would’ve been expecting Jesus to be interrupted. They went to buy food, but this is what happened. I mean, He had to go through, so God is orchestrating this.

She says, “‘How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?’”

Like, “What’s up here? I’m showing up at noon.” She’s got reasons why she’s showing up at noon, but she’s like, “Why are you talking to me?” And John inserts again, just so you absolutely know what’s going on.

He says, “(For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.)”

That’s why she would be shocked that Jesus was talking to her. So, we have a really strange occurrence here. We have a man and a woman at a well, and in the first century, men and women didn’t get together like that at all. They always had people around. It didn’t happen for myriads of reasons, but they didn’t do that. And then, now, we’ve got not only that anomaly, but we’ve got a Jew and a Samaritan together at the same time.

And after she says why would you ask me, Jesus’ response after her response is, “‘If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him,”

Like, “If you had any idea who’s talking to you, you would’ve wanted a drink, and he would have given you living water. You would’ve understood there’s more going on here than just two people at a well talking about water. There’s something great going on. I will tell you theologically what’s going on here. The woman, as all of us, have no idea who Jesus is. He has to reveal Himself to you and me before we can come to an understanding of who He actually is. She has no idea who He is. And when we are lost in the world and we don’t know Jesus, we are dead in our trespasses and sins, it takes God to take that initiative to get into you and I’s heart to reveal Himself to you and I before we can then come to the conclusion of who He is. He says, “You don’t know who’s talking to you,” and she doesn’t. She has no idea. He says, “Because if you did, this is what you would’ve done.”

The woman, of course, she doesn’t hear anything that He says because she can’t at this point.

She says, “‘Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where are you going to get that living water?’”

“I mean, first of all, You’re a Jew. First of all, this is a weird thing. I came here myself at noon because nobody would be here, and You’re here. And now You’re telling me about living water.” She’s thinking about water that’s like a stream that’s flowing. She’s like, “This is a well. I don’t know what — I’ve been to all the wells around here. I don’t know what You’re talking about. You’ve got nothing to draw with. You are a problem. You can’t even draw Your own water, and now You’re telling me about living water. Something’s wrong here.”

She goes, “‘Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob?’”

What does that mean? Why would she say that? Well, let’s detach from the story. We’re going to continue the story in a minute, but let’s detach from the story here. Let’s take a few minutes here and just have a couple of points to ponder. Okay? Notice here, if you really look closely, there’s a watermark here on the screen. I’m good. I’m getting good at this thing. Anyway, first thing, point to ponder, is that we really do need to pay attention to the Old Testament massively. We need to make a commitment that we’re not going to let the people who write the books and get on TV tell us we don’t need the Old Testament. “Oh, it’s just a bunch of old laws. You don’t need it.”

That is absolutely insane. It just makes the Old Testament this book that nobody should pay attention to, and that’s what’s being said. And that’s just wrong. In fact, I will tell you, it’s heresy. I don’t use those words lightly. You know I don’t get passionate about stuff. To take the Old Testament and chuck it is just ridiculous. It’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. We need to learn our Old Testament because here’s what’s going on in this story: We’re at a well. That’s where we’re at. We’re at a well. If you’re at a well, that’s where the communities would gather at times, water would be drawn, sustenance, and animals would be watered. I mean, it’s a big deal. But it’s far more of a big deal when you really understand the Old Testament.

Where did Abraham meet Zipporah, his wife? At a well. When Abraham sent his servant to find Isaac his wife Rebekah, where did the servant find Rebekah? At a well. Jacob, which is all over this passage — Jacob’s well, Jacob, are you greater than Jacob. Where did Jacob find his wife Rachel? At a well. So, it shouldn’t surprise you when you’re at the end of John 3 and John the Baptist says, “The voice of the bridegroom is calling. He’s looking for His bride,” and the first place that you end up in John 4 is at a well. That’s where the patriarchs found their brides. Now, this isn’t like The Da Vinci Code where Jesus is marrying the woman like that, but this is emblematic of His bride. And she is a Samaritan. She’s both and Jew and Gentile. So, what’s the story of Jacob and Rachel?

Well, the story goes like this: Jacob shows up at a well and it’s noon. Rachel comes to the well at noon. And when he sees her, he’s like, “Man, she is hot.” That’s what the Hebrew says. It says in Scripture that he is absolutely struck by her beauty. He’s so struck by her beauty that he runs over to the well where there’s a capstone, a rock that normally takes two or three guys to lift off. He goes and lifts it himself. You know? It’s like, guys, if we would stay that passionate about the girl 10 years into the marriage, we’d have better marriages. Can I get an amen, women? Come on.

Anyway, you women should be loving me today after the high priest thing and this. Anyway, he throws the thing off and he’s just enamored with her. She’s beautiful. He’s like, “Man, she is so beautiful.” He likes her. So, he convinces Laban, which is her father, to let him marry her. But Laban says, “You’ve got to work seven years.” I wonder if we had to work seven years to get married how much better our marriages would be. Right? It’s like it’s easy to get in, it’s hard to get out. It should be the other way around.

Anyway, the reality is that he worked seven years for Laban. Well, you know, you reap what you sow. Jacob’s a trickster and a deceiver. Laban does the same thing. He gives him the big switcharoo because, on wedding night, consummation night, rather than Rachel, he slips in his other daughter Leah. We’re told that Jacob doesn’t love Leah because she’s not pretty to him. He likes Rachel because she’s pretty. He doesn’t like the one that he thinks is ugly. That’s an important story. It’s important to know that. Hold onto those because it’s important that you should be starting to see some things here. Similarities where Jacob’s well, Jacob’s story, it’s noon. A lot of stuff’s going on here. Wow. Okay.

Well, the second thing that I would tell you is this. This is important. This is really important, especially if you carry a life sentence. This is important. We should not misunderstand Jesus at the earthly level when Jesus talks to us at a heavenly level. Let me explain what I mean by that. When Jesus speaks to you and I, His words and the words of Scripture are there to elicit faith from you and I. When we take them and bring them down to an earthly level so that we can master them and make them work within our culture, our environment or whatever, wherever we live, what we’re doing is we’re losing the faith that these are supposed to elicit from us. Like turning the other cheek. Most Christians bring that down to an earthly level and say, “Well, that’s — it couldn’t mean that. I mean, it couldn’t.”

No, no. It requires faith to do that. Or like love your enemies. Like, “Well, no, no. In this situation here...”

No, no, no. He says, “Love your enemies.”

“Well, I can’t love my enemy. My enemy could take my life. You know?”

No, no. It’s faith. To love an enemy, you’ve got to have faith. You’ve got to have faith. And what John shows us through his whole Gospel is everybody’s misinterpreting Jesus. They’re bringing it down to an earthly level. They’re just really literally listening to what Jesus is saying and bringing it down here rather than embracing what He’s really saying. Nicodemus, right? John 3:5. Jesus says, “You can’t enter the kingdom of heaven unless you’re born again.” Nicodemus goes, “Well, I don’t know, man. I’m pretty big. I don’t know how I’m going to get back in the womb of my mom because that’s just not going to work.”

And Jesus is like, “That’s not what I’m talking about, dude. At all. You just brought this down to some earthly construct. I’m talking to you about spiritual things here.”

The woman at the well. She’s like, “Where are you going to get that living water?” She totally misunderstands what Jesus says. John 6. And I could go through the rest, but I’ll stop there. In John 6, He’s the bread of life. Right? He says, “If you don’t drink my blood and eat my flesh, you have no part of me.” And they all run away thinking He’s a cannibal or something. You know? They misunderstand Him. They totally misunderstand what He’s saying. They just do. And what happens is when we come to the Gospel and we come to spiritual things, these words that are being said to you and me are to elicit faith. We have to trust God. And what we like to do is bring them down here so there really isn’t any trust of God. We can manage God’s Word. And if we try to manage God’s Word, we’re not going to have the victories in our life because what pleases God is faith.

I’d also make you just a little note here. If the Gospel of John is all about people taking Jesus literally and missing Him, he also wrote Revelation. Maybe we ought to think about the same thing when we read that book. Anyway, let’s continue on.

Third point: Jesus has the power, love and forgiveness to free us from being stuck with a life sentence. And I want to explain this now because we’re going to continue the story as we go through this. They’ve been talking, dialoguing and Jesus says to the lady, “Go call your husband and come here.”

Now, this would be appropriate because the assumption would be, in any first century deal with a lady, that they’d have a husband. Jesus also knows, “Hey, we’re talking here. There’s nobody around. Go get your husband and we can continue this conversation and be more appropriate.” She would’ve heard it that way for sure. But she has to answer this. She says, “I don’t have a husband.” Jesus is doing more here. This is where Jesus starts to reveal to this lady that He’s just more than some guy that’s at the well.

She goes, “I don’t have a husband.” He says, “Do you know what? You’re right when you say that. You don’t have a husband. You’re right.”

And then, what He says to her next is the thing that she would never want to talk about. She’s shown up at noon because of this. And Jesus pierces into her life and pierces her soul into that life sentence. He says, “Well, you’ve actually had five husbands, and the one that you now have is not your husband. You’re doing things that you shouldn’t be doing with somebody else’s husband.”

This is a woman that has a past. This is not a pretty lady in that sense. And she carries it with her, and she knows it. I want to make a point here that I might get misunderstood. And if I do, I’m sorry. I’m going to do the best I can to explain myself. I am, so that you understand as a pastor, against people getting divorces. I think getting a divorce is wrong, and I think the Church and people should do everything that they can to keep their marriages because if two people will try to work at a marriage, they can. But there are people that get divorced, and the Church has stigmatized them and made them feel like less of a citizen. And I want to let you know something. Jesus can forgive those things and you don’t need to walk around as a second-class citizen.

I want to drop a bomb on you here that you need to hear. Jesus does not say to this woman, “You were married once, and the other four that you had were not your husband.” He acknowledges all five marriages. He says, “The one you have right now is not your husband.”

Well, she’s just stunned. She tries to change the subject. He brings it back. He says, “You know about the Messiah, the one speaking to you. I am that person.”

She realizes, “Man, this guy’s read my mail. He talked with me. He didn’t treat me any different.” She drops her water pot. You never would do that. John records that. I mean, you just don’t leave your water pot. If you don’t have a water pot, you can’t draw. She runs back into town and she says to everybody, “Come meet the man who told me everything I’ve ever done.”

Her deepest, darkest secrets, and the love and mercy of Jesus, have become her testimony. Because here’s the question: Are you greater than our father Jacob? Can you love the ugly woman? Yes. He can. And yes, He can love all of the ugliness that all of us have. We do not need to carry a life sentence with us because Jesus has come to set us free from all of the bondages of things that we’ve done and things that have been done to us.

One last note here to just show you the awesomeness of your Lord. If you go back to 2 Samuel 5:6, a little story where David conquers Jerusalem — it’s a Jebusite fortress. As he’s going to conquer the Jebusites, they taunt him because Jerusalem’s like a finger that sticks out on a hill, and it was walled.

They say, “The lame and the blind in our city can repel you, David. You don’t have a chance. If we put the lame and the blind up here on the walls, they’ll repel you. That’s how not a chance you have.”

Well, we’re told that David found a way into Jerusalem through the water system. Sir Charles Warren found that water system. It’s called Warren’s Shaft. If you go to Israel, you’ll see it with us. He climbed up through there, they got up into the city and they conquered the city. But the Scripture tells us that David developed a hatred for the lame and the blind and said, “They’ll never enter my house.”

Listen to this: The water system in Jerusalem that was used by David to conquer Jerusalem, where he hated the lame and the blind, John records to you and me two miracles in the water system of Jerusalem. At the Pool of Bethesda and the Pool of Siloam. And who does Jesus heal? A lame man and a blind man. Why? Because He’s greater than David. He’s greater than Adam. He gave His life for his wife when Adam didn’t. See, Jesus is greater. This is the Gospel. The Gospel is that no matter what you and I have done, we don’t have to carry those burdens because Jesus paid it all to set you and me free.

So, here’s the deal: Every one of you all, right now, is at the well. And Jesus says, “Get me a drink.” Are you going to give Him a drink? Are you going to give Him a chance? Are you going to walk away from that well today letting all of it go, walk out of here saying, “Let me tell you the man who told me everything I ever did? I’m not in that bondage anymore. I am free from that stuff. I am unshackled. I am not stuck in that garbage anymore because I’ve been set free. Let me tell you about the person who set me free.”

Let Him set you free. Let’s pray. If you’d bow your heads, eyes and hearts. If you’re in here today and you came in with a life sentence, and you’re hearing this and you’re like, “Man, I want to experience this freedom. I want to be set free.” Would you just put your hand over your heart and just take a moment there at your seat and say, “Jesus, I receive all this living water. I receive all this cleansing. Lord, I just receive it. I receive that You have cleansed me, that You can love me. If You can love the woman at the well, You can love me. Lord, that’s Your Church, that’s who You died for. Lord, I want to drop this life sentence right now forever on this floor of this church. I want to walk out of here differently than when I came in because I have heard the Gospel and Jesus is greater than all of this. And it’s shame on me for holding onto it when Jesus has already paid everything for it.”

Just make that prayer at your seat. Just receive the love and mercy of God where you’re at. So, Lord, I pray that as we walk out of here today, that You would continue to lead, guide and direct us, and I pray, Lord, that You would bring us back safely to when we meet again, and I pray, Lord, that You would keep us focused as a church to do what You’ve called us to do, and that’s to reach the unchurched by being intentional neighbors that reflect Christ. Lord, we love You, we thank You and we praise You. In Jesus’ name, and everybody said, “Amen.”

Give the Lord a big hand clap. Tell Him you love Him. God bless everybody. See you soon.

Chris Pedro