AUSTRALIAN BIBLE CHURCH JANUARY 1, 2006
THE NEW YEAR IN
MOVING UP MOUNTAINS AND STOPPING AT NOTHING IN THE WAY
FOR THE DAY OF SERVICE FOR CHRIST
A good word from a bad woman, who changed on meeting The Truth
There is in man a resistance, like that in a wire to an electric current. It is not natural, for man should be more like fibre optics for transmission, yes and better; but there has been a degradation.
Even when God comes to earth and declares eternal life, so many are quite ashamed to admit it, even if they want to categorise themselves as 'believers'. They have fuss about predestination, which is quite irrelevant, for how would some 'sovereignty' attributed to God interfere with the love of God, which He attributes to Himself, and His desire that ALL be reconciled! That would be merely the sovereignty of man's own wilfulness, unwilling to place all his eggs in one divinely provided basket, and to trust the Carrier to bring them home!
Such did not appear however to be the case with the woman at the the Samaritan well. This Sunday is the very first of the year, and for that woman it was the very first day of her new life, the first in the Calendar with Christ, and wicked though she was, she did not cut short the grace of God by worthless argument. Mind you, she DID argue, but not about that. It was rather a test and a probe, and she was quickly satisfied about Christ's authenticity and hence His truth.
THE FIRST DAY WITH CHRIST IN THE NEW SPIRITUAL YEAR
It had been a wearisome day as the disciples travelled with the Lord through Samaria on the way to Galilee. Around 3 p.m., Jesus sat there while His disciples went to the town to buy food. Jesus then did the most natural thing: He asked a woman coming to draw water from Jacob's well and the plot of ground Jacob had given to Joseph. The place was full of history, and the Samaritans who had been sent in to resettle the land some seven centuries before, when Assyria depopulated it, sending off the Jewish residents in shame, aliens from God and man alike, these were not Jews! They had been sent in from various parts of the Assyrian empire of that time.
Here then was a situation where history shouted and Jesus spoke, asking for water.
The woman was amazed. The folk who had resettled this Northern portion of the former Israel, were known not to have good relations with the residual Jews from Judah in the South. HOW COME ? in effect, she asked, that you, a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan, for water!
Jesus shocked her into realisation, slow at first to come, declaring that if she had known WHO was asking her for water, she would rather have asked Him, and so received living, flowing, fresh water, not water in a mere well.
She, still lingering in the literal, asked him what He had with which to draw water: demanding that He identify His source for this fresh, running water. Trying to test or belittle Him, she asked if then he conceived himself greater than Jacob who made the well, for Jacob who himself did not decline its still water, but used it for himself and his cattle.
Thus there was this preliminary confrontation, the identification of Christ and the definition of living water; and much was to flow from all of this. It would soon lead to a new day in the Samaritan woman's calendar as has this same message led to one for multitudes since.
THE LAST DAY WITHOUT CHRIST
IN THE LIFE OF THE LADY OF FIVE HUSBANDS
Jesus then made a very simple statement. It was obvious by then that the water He had in mind was refreshing for the soul and life for the spirit. If you drink from this well, you have to come repeatedly in order to meet your need, He indicated. It was a continual coming, never finished, a constant application of energy and resource, to get the important fluid of life, time after time in an endless seeming cycle.
By contrast, if one were to take from Him the living water of which HE spoke, then there would be NO MORE THIRST. The repetitious character of the coming for refreshing and life would be ended. ONCE taken (the verb is not present continuous, but aorist), if you should drink of this water, it means you would NEVER thirst again. The process and procedure, the coming and going, the taking and gaining, it would all be a thing of the past.
This was the essential contrast. ONCE drink and FOREVER do not thirst. Indeed the negative chosen is double and emphatic! It is at once apparent that anyone who ONCE drank of this water COULD NOT enter hell, which is a particularly thirsty place. It is clear that once you drank of this, you would become a child of God whom He would never leave or forsake, that, as Christ indicated in John 5:24, you would have passed from death to life, would not come into condemnation and would possess eternal life, just as also seen in John 10:9,27-28 and 6:50-54.
COULD the woman believe it ? She probed further. She did not 'say' she believed and deny the promise; but checked first whether she would believe, and in this was most wise. Here was a promise which would solve her sin problem, her need of grace deficit, her misled life friction, her vagueness about God all in one; and she was not about to let it go without trial.
Indeed, Christ even said more than this. NOT ONLY would this water once drunk, prevent one from ever thirsting again, but there would be an oasis in the heart which would not dry up. A little would lead to a lot, and a draught to a new SOURCE within, springing up to eternity.
Thus, the water drunk would transform itself within into a fountain, one springing with fresh water into the very domains of eternal life. Not some specious measurement, as if on rations, but a flow that nothing could stop: dead water would be replaced by living, restricted supply would become unlimited, a time for water would become an eternity of flow! This is all seen in John 4:14. Seeing the point, the woman decided to let Him display His power. GIVE THIS WATER TO ME!
Christ told her to call her husband. Her reply: I HAVE NO HUSBAND.
At once, Christ with that knowledge which was ever His in His work for salvation, disclosed that in this she was right, to a point, since her existing paramour was no husband; but He added that she had in the past had five husbands. She was now completely convinced, declaring, Sir, I see you are a prophet! Jerusalem is the place you Jews require, but our fathers worshipped here! This was the substance of her challenge. If He was a prophet, let Him have a prophet's insight. It is always good to test a new thing, so she did.
However, in fact, ONE PLACE had been REQUIRED by the Lord from the day of Moses, for the worship of settled Israel (Deuteronomy 12:5-11 cf. SMR p. 823), and it was chosen at Jerusalem for the symbol, and at Jerusalem for the reality when Christ's own sacrifice relegated animal slaughter to history. Christ was soon to wrap that up in Himself.
THE NEW DAY WHICH MADE THE PAST DARKNESS FLEE
ILLUMINATION AND LIGHT
COME AS HERALDS OF ETERNITY
Christ proceeded, as Himself that coming sacrifice, direct to the point: The hour, He declared, is coming when neither in Jerusalem nor in Samaria will be the site for worship: you worship what you do no know, He added, but salvation is of the Jews. But the hour comes, and now is, when true worshippers will worship God in spirit and in truth, for God is Spirit those who worship Him MUST do so in spirit and in truth.
That was not to bypass Jerusalem, for He set His own face like a flint to go there for the sacrifice He had to perform, not as a priest with animals, but as a Prince with nobility and sinless purity, to redeem (Luke 9:53, Isaiah 50:4-10). It was however to bring the woman to the consummation of the Cross, where by that one episode, all and any might find God, without room for further priestly ministration in this place or that. Then it would be FINISHED (John 19:30 cf. Hebrews 9:12-28, 10:10-14), in, by and through HIM, to be resurrected and not at all bound to any one place! The place would become His face.
The woman was impressed, but sought yet for the One to come. HE will explain all of this, she exclaimed! "I AM, WHO SPEAK TO YOU!" - this was His declaration. Now in Greek, the first two words are precisely those in the Greek translation so commonly used then, the Septuagint, for God in his first affirmation in Exodus 3:14. It is found in Isaiah 41:4, 43:10, at the end of the clause, for God as a distinctive name; and in connection with creation, we find "I am the Lord" in 45:18, the same two Greek words here having "the Lord" after them. Thus this translation, and the Hebrew of Exodus 3:14 have these two words as crucially the Lord's signature, especially when without addition. It is used that way by Christ in John 8:58, simply: Before Abraham was, "I AM".
Self-affirmed, He needs nothing made to support Him; for it all depends on Him who in Christ is so revealed, saying in John 14, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father.” The author of created characters does not call on these for support, but those in the creation to Him! In history, then, YOU call to HIM for support; and from HIM it comes (Ps. 145:18-29, Mark 11:23, Matthew 7:7ff., John 15:7,16). It comes as written in the Book which came WITH and for this creation, for auto-assessment!
HIS is eternal existence for which time interpolation is mere nonsense: HE IS. OUR future and past are like epochs in a novel, to an author. They do not cover Him; HE covers them.
I AM, He said to the woman, who speaks to you!
Excited, she called people from the village, who were amazed, came and saw Him for themselves, asked Him to stay, which He did for two days, more yet being converted. Yet Christ did not eat when the disciples came with food on that first tiring day, telling them that His 'meat' was to do the will of God and to finish His work. In time, the timeless Being desired greatly to complete the Chapter assigned to Him, from eternity!
There is the Way for the removal of resistance: insistence on intimate and close companionship with the Lord, the immovable relish for service in Christ, and His detailed dynamic, covering every point of His duty, His mission as Messiah, giving endless stimulus to us who believe, for pardon, power and purpose. It is not that we can redeem, but in the same Spirit we can make completion of our individual specialised tasks for Christ in His will, in the Church which is His body and in our lives which are the dwelling place of His Spirit, for every Christian (Romans 8:9). Our priorities need to be decisive for the Lord, and they will move in that way when filled with the water which springs up, we too spring up, thus fortified, and leap into service, not like dead batteries groaning their last whimpish failures, but like the lame when healed.