2014-02-02 – Rev. Dr. Ryan Sato

2014-02-02 – Rev. Dr. Ryan Sato

2014-02-02 – Rev. Dr. Ryan Sato – First Baptist Church Edmonton

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GodStory, Act IV: Jesus!
Key Event #22 of 40
Reading: John 4:1-42
Title: “At the Well, Go and Tell”

Intro to “multi-voice” reading…

Today’s Jesus-story is one of the most famous in the gospel of John…Jesus the barrier-breaker, taking a detour through territory where Jews wouldn’t necessary frequent because they weren’t particularly fond of the “halfies” known as Samaritans. Every race seems to have their pride issues hmmm? You know… “If you ain’t Dutch…you ain’t _____!” For the proper and highly religious Jews, Samaritans were 2nd (3rd?) class citizens so Jesus taking a detour through Samaria seems strange for a full-blooded Jew….if you didn’t NEED to go through Samaria, why do it?

As we read through today’s story, we’re using several voices….so sit back and enjoy the story…but I would ask, that you pay attention…we often talk here at FBC about “being moved by the Story” Pay attention to what captures your imagination, or snags you up…we’ll come back to these things later, so do take time as you listen, to pay attention enough to let the story “touch” you…make a dent in your ordinary Edmontonian life…this is our sacred text, yes, but it is a living Word, so let’s allow the Holy Spirit, again, to do make some “movement” through our lives…

NOTE: see your insert? There’s also a place for y’all to chime in, right at the very end!

[the reading of John 4]

Post-Reading Comments

This unnamed WOMAN, marginalized, 6-times victimized or traumatized by overbearing or deadbeat husbands…becomes Jesus first true evangelist!
Sure, the other disciples might have shared the news of Jesus with a few close friends or family members, but this unnamed, unheralded woman wins a whole city over to the cause and person of Christ.

Maybe there’s hope for you and I huh? If this poor, disenfranchised woman at the well can be an EVANGELIST…surely you and I could come up with some kind of Evangelism “energy” or “mojo” so to speak.

How often do we self-describe as evangelists?? We leave that to the famous ones don’t we? Billy Graham. When I lived in California it was Greg Laurie and the Harvest Crusade. Or when I was in university, I left all the evangelism to my “on fire” Christian buddies. We are prone to be “arm chair” evangelists…leaving the work to the professionals while we watch with a bowl of chips and our favourite dip all cozy on our laps.

Well, today, I’d like us ALL to take on the challenge to be evangelists…not alongside Christian superstars…but alongside the unnamed woman at the well. Unspectacular. Understated. Yet…Undeniable??

I’m borrowing a 3-word phrase from one of my favourite preaching professors, David Lose…and we as a church council were reflecting on this “triad” several days ago.


David Lose urges us to “re-frame” our efforts in evangelism with these 3 words. He suggests that it demystifies the “E-word” and perhaps returns it to how it originally played out in the early days of Jesus ministry.

So that’s why, before the reading, I encouraged you to pay attention…to NOTICE what grabs your attention in today’s Jesus story.

Pause to think about it…what image/phrase/word sticks with you as you reflect on this living story today?

[ take answers ]

When we start NOTICING God at work as we hear/read the GodStory, we might get better at NOTICING God at work in the world. Or NOTICING God at work in the story of our lives.

The 2nd word is SHARE. Once you NOTICE God at work, either in the GodStory or in some life circumstance, the next movement in being an Evangelist is to SHARE it! Our unnamed woman in today’s story has such a staggering encounter with Jesus, that she literally drops everything…she leaves her water jar…and runs back to the city. When was the last time you forgot your original destination/duty because your mind was “blown” by some other encounter?
Or to make it more “Jesus-y”…when was the last time you had your mind blown/jolted by our living God, and it changed the course of your life??
Now, you don’t have to get all hype and Jesus-jukish here…I’m not suggesting that every hour of everyday has to be a “jar-dropping” experience. But it does seem that the GodStory models to us that when we NOTICE God at work in our lives, or in our world, we’re called to SHARE that Good work, that Good news. And God knows, our world could use good news eh?

So….. let’s SHARE. And I’m not going to make you share about what you noticed in the Jesus-story today (though you could if you felt like it!). Let’s take it down a notch…I would like you to share with someone why you came to church today…and particularly why you came to FBC Edmonton. Because, as I’ve said before, it’s a miracle, that 200 of us, got out of bed on a Sunday morning when thousands and thousands of people in this city decided to do other stuff. So SHARE!
Share 1 reason why you like this church OR why you come to FBC Edmonton.
[you have 45 seconds to SHARE]

[Anyone find out something interesting they’d like to SHARE with the larger group?]
*with permission of course!

INVITE. We’ve actually heard it a few times in the gospel of John. The simple phrase “Come and See!” It all started with Jesus in Chapter 1, when disciples are following him and asking him “where are you staying?” Jesus says: “Come and See.”

When Nathanael says that famous phrase about Jesus: “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip says to him “Come and See.”

And this sets up today’s story where the unnamed woman preaches the shortest, yet most effective sermon in the whole of the gospels…and she starts off with “Come and See”….and then there’s just 17 more words in this sermon…she boldly declares:

“Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done! He cannot be the Messiah, can he?”

It’s an INVITE. And she’s not just inviting her close friends and family members, she’s inviting the whole city. We don’t really know how big the city of Sychar was, but it could have been anywhere from 2000-5000 people!

Can you imagine? The woman whose known to have 5 or 6 husbands, saying “Come and See a Man…” it almost seems comical, and yet, this is her hilariously good news…

“Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done! He cannot be the Messiah, can he?”

It’s such a great message. And she’s such an enthusiastic messenger! Such honesty too! There’s even an element of doubt mixed in…isn’t that comforting [she didn’t have it all together, air-tight arguments, truth without a shadow of a doubt]?

And so as you ponder this word INVITE, I’m going to ask you to pause for 15 seconds and imagine who God might want you to INVITE to this community of faith. I’m just asking you to consider 1 face….1 name….now if God starts putting a whole city or town on your heart, so be it…pray it up! But we are told to have just a mustard seed of faith….so feel free to just start with 1 person. Pray that God would go ahead…and prepare the way for you to INVITE them to church…so that they might get in on the good stuff that you get to be a part of week after week here at FBC.

Now, please don’t hear me as trying to pressure you to pressure someone else to get religious or to go to church because it’s somehow the new trendy thing to do. Instead, I hope you’ll trust the promise of v. 38 in today’s story, where Jesus says: “Others have labored, and you have entered into their labour.”

Fred Bruner talks about “others” as God, the Triune Community, going ahead of us, and doing the work that we enter into. So when we pray for the opportunity to INVITE that 1 person…know that it’s not up to you to manipulate the circumstances so that they’ll want to come to church…or learn more about the Christian faith…know, trust and believe that it is God (Father, Son & HS) at work….and you and I get to simply “enter in” to what the community of God has sown for us.
We reap all the beauty of a harvest that is planted and nurtured by a God who so loved the cosmos!


One of the great truths for us in today’s story is that we are all Evangelists. And the bar is not staggering-ly high…all we have to do is be willing to sit, linger and banter with the Living Christ…through his Word, through his Spirit, through his people… and then allow ourselves to be springs/fountains of gushing water (I love that image!)…

If you’re not quite feeling like a gusher today…don’t feel bad…come and see.

Come to the table! Don’t attempt to “gush” in your own strength.

Allow our “gushing God” to fill you up!

Feed on Christ in your hearts. Drink of the cup of your salvation.

And as you participate in the communion meal with Christ today, perhaps you might even personalize the communal cry of v. 42:

“It is no longer because of what [others have] said that I believe, for I have heard it, tasted it, seen & sensed it for my myself, and I know that Jesus is truly the Saviour of the World.”

Closing prayer:

A Celtic Daily Prayer

O God,
I cannot undo the past,
or make it never have happened!
Neither can You.
There are some things that are not possible even for You
– but not many!

I ask you, humbly, from the bottom of my heart:
Please, God, would you write straight with my crooked lines?
Out of the serious mistakes of my life
will You make something beautiful for You?

Teach me to live at peace with You,
to make peace with others and even with myself.

Give me fresh vision.
Let me experience Your love so deeply
that I am free to face the future with a steady eye,
forgiven, and strong in hope.