God’s Heart for the Lost

John 4:7-19, 24-30, 39-42The Woman at the Well

Grace and peace to you in the name of Jesus who was born for us. Amen.

Merry Christmas to each one of you and God’s richest blessings in the year ahead.

In the celebration of Christmas, do you ever wonder why God the Father would’ve sent His Son Jesus to be born of a virgin? To be born of a girl in Bethlehem? Why would God send His angels to proclaim joy on earth, and peace in heaven because of this child’s birth to shepherds on a hillside? I believe it’s because God has a heart of passionate love for lost people. God loves those who don’t yet understand that He who created the world and hung the stars in place, (like the star over Bethlehem’s manger) wants to pour His grace into them and share the journey with them. This is why Paul said to Timothy, “God desires ALL to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth” (I Tim. 2:4). This is why there’s a Christmas – because God’s heart loves those who are lost. Is that you?

Many years ago I read an article in the Dallas newspaper of a woman whose son had been tragically killed in an accident. His heart was donated for transplant. Fortunately another young man was saved by receiving this healthy, strong heart. After a period of time, the woman who lost her son met the young man who had her son’s heart, and she said to him, “Would it be okay with you if I put my ear on your chest to listen to the heartbeat of my son one more time?”

In this Christmas season I want to ask you, If God were to put His ear to our chest, would He hear the heartbeat of Jesus within us? Jesus has been born to the world and hopefully born into our lives as we receive Him in faith. Does His heart resonate inside us with God’s heart for the lost of the world who need to know and understand Him?

In order to understand the motive of Christmas, I’d like to share with you again the story of the Samaritan woman who met Jesus at Jacob’s well. Many people described her as immoral. Immorality might be defined as deliberately violating accepted principles of right and wrong. A person of bad character, depraved, perverted, always deviating from the good. So I have two images of this woman at the well who Jesus reached out to.

One image is a woman who is flirtatious, coquettish in her behavior. She uses her sexual power to climb the ladder and gives herself away to profit personally. It is her ingrained method of conquest. Man after man is left discarded in her wake after she’s done with them. She uses her womanhood for personal gain.

Image number two of the woman whom Jesus met at the well has had a painful early childhood, which left her wounded. Her daddy was addicted to booze, and she had a tense, cold relationship with mommy. She was abused inappropriately throughout her childhood and now she views herself as dirt. So she has a skewed vision of relationships and has difficulty trusting anyone. Therefore, this woman sabotages every love relationship that gets too close.

Which image is the correct one for this woman at the well whom Jesus talks to? Whichever it is, for sure she is lost and lonely, an outcast who was rejected.

This story becomes a good picture of how Jesus has come to win the heart of the lost. Throughout the Bible, the Old Testament describes God pursuing His disobedient, rebellious people through the prophets, begging them, Come back to me. I love you. In Luke 15 we read a series of stories about God reaching the lost sheep whom the good Shepherd goes to find, the lost coin, the lost son in the story of the prodigal who wandered from the father.

The message of Christmas – Jesus born to us – is an image of God’s heart for lost and estranged people. He wants to win their trust and have them believe His love is for them. I find it beautiful how Jesus engages this woman at the well. He does not judge or reject her, but meets her where she is, as she is. He is open and flexible, not too busy to talk. He is not blocked by religious or racial differences. He is not concerned about His image as He would talk with a woman at noon, and He is not prejudiced against her, even though He knows everything about her.

Jesus finds a connecting point to build a bridge in the conversation using thirst to talk about the spiritual truth of living water in the Holy Spirit. He talks about Jacob’s well, and it becomes a segue to discuss worship of God in Spirit and truth. He reveals Himself ultimately as the Messiah. To take the conversation to a deeper level, a matter of the heart, He says, I’m the one who has come to the world to deliver all people in the saving love of God.

Are you lost? Jesus comes to find you where you are, as you are. As He pours His living water into your soul, the Spirit flows. In that living water, the heart of this woman was changed forever. Wherever living water flows the stagnant, polluted, foul souls of people are washed clean.

In Jesus’ love we are given a new beginning. Guilt and shame melt away. This woman becomes an unlikely witness to Jesus. Exuberantly and honestly she goes to the people of her village and says, “Come and see the one who told me everything I’ve ever done. Could this one be the Christ?”

Here’s the truth of Christmas for all who have embraced Jesus’ birth as our salvation. God wants for the presence of Jesus within us to turn our lives into a wellspring of living water for others. God wants us to listen to others with compassion, show the tenderness of love, and believe that when we engage people, the presence of Jesus within us will bless them.

I recently read the story of a man named Gib Martin in his book “A Theology of Personal Ministry.” When Gib was 27 years old, he was a schoolteacher. After each day teaching his students, he would unwind by stopping at a bar to have a beer and bemoan his life. He had a thirst of a different kind. He was a man who needed living water. Gib had come from a religious background, but now for three years had described himself as an atheist. He was going through a dark period of desperation and didn’t even feel like being with anyone.

Every day when Gib came to the bar, he saw an older man named Charlie. Charlie was a carpenter, and for many years had struggled with severe alcoholism. But then, not too many years before, Charlie had been led to Christ by Gib Martin’s great-grandmother. Charlie had heard from her that the love of Jesus could break the power of his addiction and free him to a new life, a life of grace. Through Charlie’s receiving of Jesus, he was set free.

Charlie was now so burdened for souls that after work each day he still stopped at this bar, but he drank coffee and shared his life with anyone who would listen. He told them how Jesus had redeemed his life.

Charlie could tell Gib was a miserable man. He tried to befriend him, but Gib was resistant. Charlie wasn’t even able to share about Jesus’ love with Gib because of his attitude. Eventually, though, Charlie invited Gib to go with him to hear a guest speaker coming to the community. Gib agreed to go with Charlie if they could discuss what the man talked about after the meeting.

That night Gib heard the gospel of Jesus for the first time. He was so convicted of the sin in his life and of all the rhythms of unhealthy living that he literally, by his description, vomited all night long and thought he was dying. The next day about noon, he dropped to his knees and gave his life to Christ. He invited Jesus to come into his heart. Gib later found out that Charlie and some others had spent the evening praying for him.

Isn’t that beautiful? God used Charlie, who had already been redeemed by Jesus’ birth into his life, to reach Gib, and yet another soul was cleansed in the living water of Jesus’ Spirit.

Dare we to believe that
✝ God desires to use each one of us to share His living water?
✝ Jesus would not want us to judge anyone, but love them?
✝ We are to keep our hearts open to every opportunity to share Jesus’ love?
✝ We would pray to be a blessing to each person we meet?
✝ We would learn to find the connecting point to engage people in a conversation that goes to a deeper level?
✝ We would listen to understand with compassion and
✝ Eventually we would hope to share why Jesus is a blessing to us as He lives in our heart?

Will you pray and believe the Spirit will use you? Then will our lives reflect the heart of our Father.

If God would put His ear to our chest, would He hear the heartbeat of His Son Jesus? The beautiful truth of Christmas is the Spirit of Jesus lives within us. As we sing in the hymn, “O come to us, O live with us, our Lord Immanuel.”

May the glorious truth of Christmas and the presence of Jesus within you, give you joy, and may God powerfully use your life to love people in His name. Amen.

Pastor Lee Laaveg