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The Rev. William Klock: “Seeking Out the Lost” (John 4:1-10)

February 26, 2012

The Rev. William Klock of Living Word REC in British Columbia has been preaching a series of messages based on the Gospel of John, and for Quinquagesima, Fr. Bill had a thoughtful sermon titled Seeking Out the Lost, based on John 4:1-10.  In this message, Fr. Bill takes a look at the encounter of Jesus with the Samaritan woman at the well of Sychar, and draws some helpful lessons from this.  His introduction sets the stage quite well:

This morning we’re moving on to the fourth chapter of St. John’s Gospel.  John 4 is just as much about evangelism as John 3 is, but it gives a very different picture.  In Chapter 4 we read about Jesus’ encounter at the well in Sychar with the Samaritan Woman and it’s hard to think of anyone or any situation that contrasts more starkly with his encounter with Nicodemus.  Nicodemus was a religious leader and authority.  This woman was probably only religious by the skin of her teeth.  Nicodemus was a Jew; she was a Samaritan.  He was a scholar; she was uneducated.  He was a man of the highest moral fibre; she was horribly immoral.  He came to Jesus at night to protect his reputation; she came in the middle of the day because her reputation wasn’t worth protecting.  As James Boyce put it: “A great contrast.  Yet the point of the stories is that both the man and woman needed the gospel and were welcome to it.  If Nicodemus is an example of the truth that no one can rise so high as to be above salvation, the woman is an example of the truth that none can sink too low.”

I think St. John put these two stories side by side for a reason—to make it clear to us that the Gospel is for everyone, no matter who they are or where they come from.  But the story also contrasts with what we saw in Chapter 3 in other ways.  Nicodemus sought out Jesus.  Sharing the Gospel with people who seek us out is very different from sharing the Gospel with the people we seek out ourselves and that’s just the sort of situation we see with the woman at the well—Jesus went looking for her and in that he shows us what our own seeking out of the lost should look like.  He shows us what it means to care for lost souls; he shows us that we need to be willing to cross boundaries for the sake of the Gospel; he shows us what it looks like to connect with people where they’re at; and he shows us the importance of using those crossings and connections as ways to communicate the Gospel with people.

We Christians (and Anglicans in particular) often have trouble with evangelism.  This sermon gives us a lot to think about on this subject, and I hope you’ll read the whole thing!

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