Reframing Dignity | John 4:1-42
Topic: Gospel Passage: John 4:1–4:42
Christopher Rich – October 28, 2018
Reframing Dignity |John 4:1-42
Introduction | Who is worthy of dignity?
Good Morning Welcome to Damascus Road where we are Saved by Jesus Work,Changed by Jesus’ Grace, and Living on Jesus’s Mission. Today we are continuing our series REFRAMING JESUS: Portraits of Glory from John’s Gospel. In Reframing Jesus, our desire isn’t to reinvent Jesus into someone He is not or make Jesus into an image we are more comfortable with. Instead, we seek to have our portrait of Jesus reframed by John’s Gospel to see Him as accurately and glorious as possible.
What does it mean to be an outsider? What does it mean to not only feel marginalized but to actually be marginalized? How have you experienced being an outsider? Maybe you’re one of the people in the world who have never felt that way. If I say all people are “worthy of dignity, honor, and respect” we may all nod and intellectually ascent to this truth (Christian or not) we may even believe well of course I believe that (it’s politically correct). Where is this dignity derived from? What happens when it’s been stripped away by our own culture or our own actions. What are the barriers put up that separate us from one another? Maybe, you’d like to think these things aren’t an issue and so you bristle when they’re brought up or are tired from the lectures of our culture for sins you’ve not committed. Maybe it’s uncomfortable because you know it things like racism, sexism, and sectarianism exists, but you don’t know how to address it or wish it wasn’t so. The world tells us to simply coexist in equality AND to holds up these lines as irrevocably causing inequity. Yet injustice and inequity still remain in subtle and significant ways.To ignore the fact that these lines exist or to say simply to get over it is to perpetuate the idea that these lines don’t have an impact on how people experience the world and how they perceive their dignity. What lines do you draw where you say “you’re worthy of God’s grace, but they’re not” maybe it’s not that deep or clear but there are lines you don’t like to think much about or struggle to engage with. We’re going to see the mission of Jesus bring and restore dignity to people and groups that have experienced the erosion of dignity because of sin both cultural/corporate and individual. Gender, race, morality, religion are all lines that have to be navigated with the hope of dignity restored. In John 4:1-42 we will be Reframing Dignity to better understand what it means to be worthy of life with God in Jesus.
PART III| Reframing Thirst |v1-26
John 4:1-26 | Now when Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John 2 (although Jesus himself did not baptize, but only his disciples), 3 he left Judea and departed again for Galilee. 4 And he had to pass through Samaria. 5 So he came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the field that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6 Jacob's well was there; so Jesus, wearied as he was from his journey, was sitting beside the well. It was about the sixth hour. 7A
woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.”8 (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.) 9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) 10 Jesus answered her, “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, and he would have given you living water.” 11 The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.” 13 Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” 15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.”
Jesus is traveling from one region to another. He is tired of his travels, hungry, and thirsty. He had to pass this way, because it was THE shortest way. However, it wasn’t uncommon to take a slightly longer away to go around Samaria to avoid it all together. In fact there were three common routes, but this is the only one that went through Samaria(how do you get to Kyak point, around or through the rez?) Jesus HAD to pass this way not because of geography but because of theology. This way was essential to Jesus’ mission to bringing those who have been treated as outsiders and showing them their great dignity before God.We will go out of our way to maintain distance from differences we find difficult to engage with. Jesus is sitting alone a well when a woman comes up to draw water and He asks her for a drink. This seems simple but there are massive centuries long barriers that are being crossed.
Race-Dignity Divided. 8th century BC the northern kingdom of Israel fell to the Assyrian many of the Jews were exiled and the Assyrians brought in people from a bunch of other nations to intermarry with the remaining Jews this mix race came to be known as the Samaritans. A couple of hundred years later after Babylon took over Judah and exiled everyone the Persians allowed many to return to rebuild the temple and the Samaritans asked if they could help. They were rejected as ethnically and religiously “impure” (less than) even intermarriage with Samaritans was prohibited. So in 400 BC they built their own temple, not in Jerusalem but on Mount Gerizim, just 250 years later a Jewish king destroyed the temple and when Jesus was a kid Samaritans defiled the Jerusalem temple by scattering dead men’s bones in it. There are generations of pain, prejudice, pride all working to keep these people separate. By any Jewish/religious standards a Samaritan was an “outsider” and as John says “Jews don’t deal with Samaritans” this was a full on Jim Crow south segregation, to engage with a Samaritan was to become “unclean”.Dignity robbed.How have you felt or contributed to the erosion of dignity in relation to race and heritage?
Gender- In this culture it was not common for a women and man who didn’t know each other to speak to each other in public. For a Rabbis there was even writings at the time that said “one does not speak to a woman on a street, not even with his own wife, and certainly not one who is not his wife.” For the purpose of reducing gossip. For Jesus to initiate this conversation was itself a controversial act (later the disciples will be confused this happened at all). In every part of civic, religious, and family life women we seen as less than fully valuable compared to men. It was a perversion God’s intention that only understood the inherent dignity of women half right. Men and women are absolutely distinct (the world rejects) AND absolutely equal in value and dignity.She knows she’s an “outsider” she’s known her whole life members of one dominate race think that I am some-less than half breed. Who is both racially and religiously “inferior.” She’s knows Jesus is out of His lane and she’s not having it. Hey Guy, how you’re acting is not appropriate given the norms of racial, religious, gender biases. Not just because she’s worried about the violation of a cultural norm but because this can’t be genuine. The level of mistrust is high, so even something innocent is seen as incendiary. Additionally, she’s a bit of pariah in her own village (an outsider in a culture of outsiders) She came in the middle of the day, alone, in the heat when the custom was for women to come together either early or late in the day together. It was a social time and she’s isolated from it. She comes alone and is being reminded of these big barriers that keep her from experiencing dignity. She brushes Jesus off a bit, but Jesus redirects from His need and what she can offer Him to what her need is and what He can offer her. It’s significantly greater! Jesus isn’t the one in the greatest need here, she is.
We don’t realize how thirsty we are. Jesus may be thirsty from a long hard journey of a couple of days, but she’s thirsty after a long hard life. Jesus says “There is a gift from God that can quench a deep thirst in your life.” Like Nicodemus misunderstanding the new birth, she’s still thinking about literal water rather than the deep thirst and longing in her/your/my soul for something that will truly satisfy. So she falls back the pride she has in her culture. Jacob, the great patriarch dug this well, drank from it so did his whole family. I’ve at least got something I brought to draw water up with. I have what I need, I have this well that our family, tribe, race has provided it’s good enough and better than what you’re offering. Yet every day she’s thirsty going back to the same well by herself, not ever having her thirst fully eradicated. Jesus knows this and tells here there is significant difference from the well she’s drawing from and the spring he’s offering.
Well – Dig down deep 100’ hopping to get some water to quench your thirst, requires regular maintenance, daily effort to come back to the well lower the bucket, work to bring it out up one pull of the rope at a time as your hands are callousing up. As you’re drinking with every sip of relief you’re also reminded that the thirst is going to come back and the only way to extract more water is with more effort. This is the well of religion that makes us feel a bit better for a moment while we’re disciplined, but leaves us exhausted.
Spring – Living water Jesus says, is that which explodes flows with water without effort on the person who desperately needs the water they only need to drink. Physical thirst will always come back, but the spiritual thirst, the disconnection from God, and the less than full dignity, is quenched by Jesus in a way that lead to life eternal. This water will “well up” literally Jump up out of the depths of our hearts that are now springs of the Holy Spirit. Don’t hear wrong that this means you’ll never experience any sort of spiritual dissatisfaction and will always be perfectly content at all times. But it does mean in those times you have access to water that wells up that satisfies the longing/thirst we have for a relationship with God the Father, through God the Son, empowered by God the Holy Spirit, it’s a water that sustains us as we move into life with God that is eternal. Now and forever. It’s a water that comes not from effort but from God.
Who would ever want to go daily to a well when you can have a spring inside of you? What are you going to daily with great effort hoping it will satisfy, but in the end leaves you in the same thirsty state? She wants this water, so her thirst will end and great effort is no longer needed. Jesus, is offering it but He is also going to do some deep heart work in this thirst soul. Dignity can be taken, but sometimes it’s given away.
PART II | Reframing what Satisfies | v16-26
John 4:16-18 | 16 Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” 17 The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; 18 for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.”
There are corporate/cultural barriers like racism, sexism, tribalism that can rob us and others of dignity. There are also individual sin, false worship, and relational brokenness that leave us just as thirsty. When Jesus gives us “living water” He is comprehensive about how He addresses the deep nature of our thirst.
Morality, sexuality, relational brokenness- They’ve been talking in general terms now He’s getting specific. Can I meet your husband? Oh, I’m not married… Right you’re not, but you have been…. FIVE TIMES. There isn’t standard out there that doesn’t say “that’s a lot of marriages” There could be death, there could be divorce, either way there is separation, insecurity, grief and deep desire for intimacy. She has been trying to quench her thirst with relationships and her sexuality and yet they have both failed her multiple times and now the relationship she has now isn’t even pretending to be a marriage just a boyfriend, hook up, friend with benefits. Why try for something lasting again, let’s just focus on right now and well of brief comfort and pleasure that comes from sex.This is the other side of religion, this is irreligion/license. I know I’m thirsty so when I’m parched I’ll look for some sort of temporary pleasure. If it makes me feel good for a moment, an hour, a day, or season, I’ll keep chasing even if every time more and more of my value and dignity is eroded away. So here she is, thirsty for relationship, intimacy, security, acceptance and where is she? Alone, isolated, and thirsty. Jesus has offered living water and let her know her thirst for dignity is greater than she might realize. Before you’re concerned that Jesus is being too confrontational about her sin or bring up something sensitive or shameful remember… Jesus knows all about her…… More than she’s willing to readily admit….. AND HE has chosen to pursue her for the purpose of restoring her dignity.He knows AND he pursues Her. Let’s change the subject from my checkered past and my complicated present.
John 4:19-26 | 19 The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” 21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” 25 The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.” 26 Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.”
Religion- She says let’s talk about the doctrinal differences of the Samaritans and the Jews. It’s always preferable to talk impersonally theology rather than talk about the outcome of the personal aspects of our lives. Jesus says “Those don’t matter as much as you think” because neither is going to be sufficient to give you the dignity you were designed for but has been taken by sin in the world and in your life. Both are now obsolete, so we can discuss the difference in doctrine and religion but know that neither is going to lead you to true life with God. You worship falsely because you don’t know God. Grace doesn’t sacrifice the truth.Grace comes from Jesus giving us the truth. She has been under a system of worship based on ignorance of the truth of God. Jesus isn’t a religious pluralist. Jesus doesn’t say “cool temple! As long as that works for you cool!” Instead He says, “Here are some things that are true about God.”
God is the seeker of those thirsty for dignity.Thirst is an equal opportunity experience. Because of sin, there is a stripping of dignity. Because we’re made for worship and communion with God, it has been taken away because of our individual and corporate sin. God is a loving Father who will be worshipped in Spirit and Truth. He is the one who brings the Spirit, so it’s not about where (which mountain) what you bring (sacrifice), or how you worship. It’s all about who you worship. The God of the Bible, the Father will be worshipped by Spirit and Truth. God is seeking and finding authentic worshippers who will direct their worship not to place but a person. Salvation is FROM the Jews (Specific line, family, Jesus) Salvation is FOR everyone.She says, “God the Savior will sort it out later” and Jesus says’ lets make it clear now!
PART III | Reframing Reaction| v27-30
John 4:27-30 | 27 Just then his disciples came back. They marveled that he was talking with a woman, but no one said, “What do you seek?” or, “Why are you talking with her?”28 So the woman left her water jar and went away into town and said to the people, 29 “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” 30 They went out of the town and were coming to him.
This point of clarity and dignity with walls down is interrupted by the disciples’ return and the walls start to come back up. There is a reminder there is still work to be done by the disciples of Jesus to understand how God gives dignity.The disciples see these lines being crossed, dignity being given and they aren’t relieved (because they’re on the side of implied dignity, never mind they’re also in a ghetto and seen as less-than by the Romans) they’re confused and silent. They don’t welcome her, they silently question Jesus.
But the women, she has experienced and had an encounter with Jesus and she can’t remain silent. She has had her dignity restored because she has been fully known and accepted by Jesus! She has experienced the dignity of being treated with great value and care and this restoration of dignity moves her from isolation to evangelism and from shame to transparency.She’s been belittled her whole life now she’s bold!
PART III | Reframing Mission | v31-41
John 31-41| 31 Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.” 32 But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” 33 So the disciples said to one another, “Has anyone brought him something to eat?” 34 Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work. 35 Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest. 36 Already the one who reaps is receiving wages and gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. 37 For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ 38 I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.” 39 Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman's testimony, “He told me all that I ever did.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there two days. 41 And many more believed because of his word. 42 They said to the woman, “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 Savior of the world.”
It satisfies God to accomplish the restoration of full dignity, through faith in Jesus alone, to those who are desperately thirsty for it. If you’re a disciple of Jesus, then your mission is to bring living water of Life with God across lines the world has made and those that exist in our own hearts. We have been called to this joyful mission of seeing people experience the greatest dignity bestowed to them FROM Jesus because of the greatest indignity suffered BY Jesus on the Cross in their place. We don’t work to bring a crop to life we get to harvest a crop that has already been planned, planted, and grown by God the sower who moves people from disgrace of sin to the dignity of life with God and His people from every tribe, tongue, gender, status, sexual experience, and religious background to be known and made new and become part of a new people who are fully known, accepted, and transformed. Jesus is inviting us, no directing us, as laborers who have already been paid with the wage of eternal life to go out into the harvest which is ripe to receive living water of life with God in Jesus. God is using restored people to go and tell of how He restores dignity that has been lost. We have a message that is compelling because there are more people thirsty for dignity than we can imagine. When someone has found water been given dignity of being part of the family of God they cannot help but want others to know it too.
Jesus gives His word to the town, come to him for salvation from your sin, never thirst again for communion with God because it be given to you as an eternal/internal spring through the Holy Spirit. Worship God Father in the Holy Spirit and truth of Jesus who is the clear savior of the world. If you don’t know the living water of life with God through Jesus, know that dignity is not reserved for you and your tribe alone AND dignity is not reserved for everyone else but you. Instead, come and drink deeply for yourself, repent of sin, be renewed, restored, and refreshed when you Trust Jesus.
“To be loved but not known is comforting but superficial. To be known and not loved is our greatest fear. But to be fully known and truly loved is, well, a lot like being loved by God. It is what we need more than anything. It liberates us from pretense, humbles us out of our self-righteousness, and fortifies us for any difficulty life can throw at us.” – Tim Keller