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Obviously Oblivious

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Scripture:  John 4:27-38

" Just then his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman. But no one asked, “What do you want?” or “Why are you talking with her?”


Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?” They came out of the town and made their way toward him.


Meanwhile his disciples urged him, “Rabbi, eat something.” But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.” Then his disciples said to each other, “Could someone have brought him food?” “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.


Do you not say, ‘Four months more and then the harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. Even now the reaper draws his wages, even now he harvests the crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. Thus the saying ‘One sows and another reaps’ is true. I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.”


Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. And because of his words many more became believers. They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.”" (John 4:27-42, NIV)



1.   The returning disciples are surprised.

They left him “tired”, sitting by a well, water within reach but inaccessible and they went grocery shopping.  It wasn’t a bad thing or a good thing.  It was just a thing.  It might have been at the direction of Christ.  It might have been their own idea.  The disciples were prone to care for their physical needs.  Like most of us, they had an acute sense of personal need.  Like most of us, there are times when we are preoccupied with our needs and oblivious to the needs of others.  This crazy “faith” notion challenges us to never become so concerned with ourselves that lose concern for others.  There is even the suggestion that there are times when it is more necessary to care for others than it is to care for ourselves.

But their return was ill-timed.  According to the scriptures, they returned just as Jesus revealed his identity to the Samaritan woman.  She didn’t stay long after the disciples returned.

There was a level of discomfort.  The scriptures tell us that they were “surprised” to find Jesus talking with this woman.

There was an uneasy silence.  There were questions that they wanted to ask – questions for both of them.

“What do you want?”  Hardly a warm inquiry.

“Why are you talking with her?”  Almost accusatory.  Have you taken leave of your senses Jesus?  I am convinced that if Christ were physically among us today he would raise a serious level of discomfort in our lives.  He  wouldn’t accept our flimsy excuses.  He wouldn’t be impressed with our efforts to protect our own reputations by the needy people that we turn a blind eye to.

2.   The departure of the Samaritan woman

She wouldn’t have needed to possess keen intuitive ability to know that these men were different than the one that she had just been talking to.

I’m sure that she knew that if one of the others had been there waiting at the well, she would have been long gone.  She’d have filled the water pot with her eyes downward and would have left without a single word.

God help us to be people who invite others to connect with us and our church.  If God could give us grace enough to invite people to life their eyes and to be recognized with acceptance and love.

She left her water pot.  That was the good thing.  She was taking something back to her friends and neighbors that she didn’t bring with her.  Something that she had never found at the well in other visits.

I wonder who she told when she went back.  She had no access to the more respectable strata of small town of Sychar.  She told those who were here friends and acquaintances.  She told those who accepted her for what she was rather than those who rejected her for what she wasn’t.

We each have a network.  Every person who comes to this church has one.  You have a group of people with whom you have some influence.  People that you could bring witness to. 

She gave testimony of Jesus – one better than that – she brought her friends back to the well to meet Jesus.

I talked to one of our ladies this past week who told me that a co-worker mentioned that she would like to come to church.  Quite a compliment to this lady’s testimony.  If she wasn’t liked and respected she would never have her friends wanting to come to her church.

Do you know that if people do not like you, they will never come to your church?  I don’t care how good your theology is and I don’t care how good your message is, if you are not intentionally or naturally loving to others, then it’s all a waste.  People can hold to truth firmly and fail to practice it.

You are not what you profess, you are what you practice.

   It is not what we eat

   but what we digest

   that makes us strong;

   not what we gain

   but what we save

   that make us rich;

   not what we read

   but what we remember

   that makes us learned;

   and not what we profess

   but what we practice

   that makes us Christians.

   -- Author unknown

3.   Christ declines their suggestion

Do you remember those times as a child when you had to force feed yourself.  My mother used to talk about “squirt gun soup”.  We’d rush in from our activity and she just squirt the soup in and we’d be on our way again.

Jesus might have been tired and hungry when the disciple left but something had revitalized him in their absence. 

His weariness was gone.  It was this encounter with this woman and in helping her to have her own needs met, he had his own met as well.

His hunger was satisfied.  And so he suggests to the disciples that he was well fed and that they knew nothing of the food that he ate.

He was speaking to the deeper hunger of his disciples.  There is a sense of fulfillment and satisfaction that is therapeutic when we have the privilege of helping others to find their needs met.

4.   He defines his sustenance

You can find anything in this world that you want but unless you find the personal knowledge that your life makes a difference then you will have a “flat line” experience.  Jesus offers us abundant which comes from serving God and others.  We have a mirror type relationship with the success principles of this world.

  Upon first reading, these precepts gleaned from the gospels seem to defy human logic.  A deeper study, however, will reveal that in them the Lord has outlined a wondrous pattern and a wise design for believers who want to enjoy a successful, overcoming life.  Note these paradoxes:

q      We see unseen things (2 Cor. 4:18);

q      We conquer by yielding (Rom. 6:16-18);

q      We find rest under a yoke (Mt. 11:28-30);

q      We reign by serving (Mark 10:42-44);

q      We are made great by becoming little (Luke 9:48);

q      We are exalted by being humble (Mt. 23:12);

q      We become wise by being fools for Christ's sake (1 Cor. 1:20, 21);

q      We are made free by becoming His bond servants (Rom. 6:10);

q      We wax strong by being weak (2 Cor. 12:10);

q      We triumph by defeat (2 Cor. 12:7-9);

q      We find victory by glorying in our infirmities (2 Cor. 12:5);

q      We live by dying (John 12:24,25; 2 Cor. 4:10,11).

   A real Christian is an odd number, anyway.  He feels supreme love for One who he has never seen; talks familiarly every day to Someone he cannot see; expects to go to heaven on the virtue of Another; empties himself in order to be full; admits he is wrong so he can be declared right; goes down in order to get up; is strongest when he is weakest; richest when he is poorest and happiest when he feels the worst.  He dies so he can live; forsakes in order to have; gives away so he can keep; sees the invisible, hears the inaudible, and knows that which passeth knowledge.

   -- A.W. Tozer

It’s one of the most amazing things in the world to understand that God proposes to provide for us when we deny ourselves.

5.   He describes the state of the harvest field

I believe that Jesus was verbally reflecting on his experience with this marginalized woman.  What did he want to communicate in the interest of the gospel.

q     That there was something better that she could know of life.

q     That he knew her past prior to his invitation and that she could hide nothing from Him.

q     That she was valued.  Jesus dismantled her stereotype and left her open to his words and his message.

The disciples however were oblivious that Jesus was pre-engaged in the work that He had come to do.  He had not yet faced the cross but he brought the message of the cross to her and she found safety in relationship to Him

No better time.  So He said to his disciples that there is no better more preferable time to be engaged in harvesting for the kingdom of God. 

The work was already beginning.

The scripture tells us that today is God’s appointed day for you.  I will always remember Willace Wilcox’s words to my dying father, “Hinky, it’s time to talk to Jesus.”

The hard work has been done.  That was another of his messages to his disciples.  Reaping is the easy part.  The hard work is done by the sower, the person who nourishes and cares for the planted seed.  There is in each of our lives a person who has “watched over” us and a person who has bathed our hearts and spirits in prayer.  Some plants are slower to ripen than others but in time God brings the evidence of those prayers to light as we give our lives to Him.

Why do we struggle to see what God sees?

Our primary focus is to please ourselves and to care for our own needs.

Awkwardness that makes others uneasy. We don’t know how to behave around people whose attitudes or lifestyles are incongruent with our own. 

We are too guarded to be high risk lovers of men.  We want to protect our selves from harm or abuse.  We have this desire to categorize or to “box” people in order to make our lives manageable.

Reputations to protect.

We have an agenda that is sometimes misinterpreted as arrogance and aloofness. 

It sometimes makes us too busy to minister to people.  Our programs take precedence.  So we are unaware of people’s needs because we think that we are serving those needs.  We neglect ourselves as well in the process of serving God and we lose sensitivity because we are not close enough o hear God’s promptings.

A sense of “appropriateness” that overrides our effectiveness.

We do not know how to love without motivation.

We don’t know how to love in the face of opposition.

Because we do not engage ourselves non-judgmentally in the lives of unsaved people we have a greater consciousness of their sin than their souls

IF. . . .


If to be a Christian is worthwhile, then the most ordinary interest in those with whom we come in contact should prompt us to speak to them of Christ.


If the New Testament be true -- and we know that it is -- who has given us the right to place the responsibility of soul-winning on other  shoulders than our own?


If they who reject Christ are in danger, is it not strange that we , who are so sympathetic when the difficulties are physical or temporal should be apparently be so devoid of interest as to allow our friends and neighbors and kindred to come into our lives and pass out again without a word of invitation to accept Christ, to say nothing of sounding a note of warning because of their peril?


 If today is the day of salvation, if tomorrow may never come and if life is equally uncertain, how can we eat, drink and be merry when those who live with us, work with us, walk with us and love us are unprepared for eternity because they are unprepared for time?


If Jesus called his disciples to be fishers of men, who gave us the right to be satisfied with making fishing tackle or pointing the way to the fishing banks instead of going ourselves to cast out the net until it be filled?


If Jesus himself went seeking the lost,, if Paul the apostle was in agony because his kinsmen, according to the flesh, knew not Christ, why should we not consider it worthwhile to go out after the lost until they are found?


If I am to stand at the judgment seat of Christ to render an account of the deeds done in the Body, what shall I say to Him if my children are missing, if my friends are not saved or if my employer or employee should miss the way because I have been faithless?


If I wish to be approved at the last, then let me remember that no intellectual superiority, no eloquence in preaching, no absorption in business, no shrinking temperament, or no spirit of timidity can take the place of or be an excuse for my not making an honest, sincere, prayerful effort to win others to Christ.


[1] The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984 (electronic ed.). Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

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