John | Grace Reformed Church
Last week, when we were meditating on worshipping “in spirit and in truth,” I mentioned briefly, as a side point, the revival in preaching that took place during the Reformation. Before the Reformation, the church had almost abandoned exposition of the words of scripture, and had turned their focus toward ritual and formalism, really distracting from what the people needed, which was to hear the gospel, hear the Word. I think that’s something we need to keep standing up for, with vigilance, because I think we have a similar problem today.
Here we come to the second of our sermons on the story of Jesus meeting the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well. We looked last week at the first 15 verses. If you missed it, the recording and full text should be online already. But I can give you the high points.
We looked at some of the background to the great divide between the Jews and the Samaritans, how it went back hundreds of years. And of course when we considered the depth of the animosity between the two peoples, we were able to see how surprising such an event was, a Jewish man even talking to a Samaritan woman.
We turn this morning again to the gospel of John. We’ve finished with chapter 3, one of the most often-quoted chapters of scripture in the entire bible, and it is remarkable what we’ve uncovered so far. If you remember back to the very beginning of this series, when I introduced the book of John, I mentioned that of the four gospels, it holds a very unique place. Since it was likely written a bit later than the others, and John seems to assume that his readers know the content that is in the other gospels, the gospel of John has the opportunity to do two things that the others do not.
We have the joy again this morning of coming to God’s Word. To open it, to read it, to study it, to unfold the truths that it has for us, and to apply it to our lives. It’s been another tough week in our lives as a nation, thinking especially about goings-on at the national political level. But in the end, those things have less impact on our lives than our personal struggles. Undoubtedly it’s been an even tougher week for many people individually.
Happy New Year to everyone! I want to thank you for allowing me the time to be gone last week. I was a little disappointed to spend so much planned time off as a healthy person in quarantine, but alas, these are the times we live in! But the holidays are over, it is a joyous new year, and we begin it just as dependent on the grace of God as we were this time last year, do we not?
Well, the decorations are hung, the first candle is lit, we’ve all eaten plenty of food this week (I know I have), so it must be Advent! I decided to take a break from our study of John and do a series of four Advent messages, but you’ll notice, we are still in John. You may not remember, but last year I was going to do the same thing while we were studying Philippians, but then when Advent rolled around, we happened to reach a spot in the text that was really perfect for Advent messages, so we just stayed there.
We return again this morning to the gospel of John, and today we’re going to start chapter 3, which is a chapter containing possibly the most referenced verse in all of scripture—maybe you’ve seen it in the background at a sporting event or on the bumper of a car—that verse that so encapsulates the gospel in its essence that it is the one verse that we point people to if they’re going to hear just one verse of scripture.