Service That Satisfies
15 February 2015
A study in the series on the Gospel of John by John Dugas
Grace Bible Church, Tulsa
Full Audio Message
Service That Satisfies
Happiness is found in the most unlikely place. When asked what would make them happy, people suggest everything but the right answer: pleasure, lack of pain, new shoes, a cool car, a new toy, a wife or husband, true love. What is the right answer? Happiness is found in doing God’s will.
People have always had this problem. The best example is in the garden. Doing God’s will for Adam and Eve meant doing ANYTHING and EVERYTHING except ONE thing. Doing God’s will meant not eating from the one tree. But you know, they thought they couldn’t be happy by simply doing God’s will. They could only be happy if they did their own will. Israelites in the wilderness had just experienced the most amazing display of God’s power that the world had ever seen. But they didn’t think they could be happy simply doing God’s will. They wanted a god who would do their will. Greek philosophers had ideas about how to find happiness: deny yourself, distance yourself from pain, resign yourself to fate or just gorge yourself. Everything revolved around self.
Happiness is found in doing God’s will. Today we get to finally see what happened after Jesus shared the Gospel with the woman at the well. What a delightful story! And what a powerful lesson!
I want to show you this morning that the recipe for happiness, for real satisfaction, for contentment, is rather simple. It is found in simply doing God’s will. Although simple, this can change our lives.
I. Doing God’s will is more important than social customs (John 4:27).
God saw to it in His providence that the disciples did not arrive too early and interrupt Jesus’ conversation with the woman. They weren’t sure what to make of this scene. And so they were surprised to see Him speaking with a woman—a clear violation of custom. Some Jews believed that for a rabbi to talk very much with a woman—even his wife—“was at best a waste of time and at worst a diversion from the study of Torah, and therefore potentially a great evil that could lead to Gehenna, hell” (Carson, p. 227). While Jesus kept God’s law perfectly, He wasn’t shy about breaking with custom. Jesus set the example for His disciples to treat women as the OT taught, not as the rabbis taught. God’s word holds women in high regard. Let us follow Jesus’ example!
II. Doing God’s will involves planting Gospel seeds (John 4:28-30).
When Jesus turned on the gushing fountain of living water within her soul, the woman’s excitement takes over and she bolts for the city, forgetting her waterpot. Her spiritual thirst has been quenched. Bodily thirst is no longer her top priority. Telling others about her new discovery is.
As soon as this woman believed in Jesus, she became an evangelist. Did you notice her transformation? She rushed to take the Good News to the very people who treated her as an outcast. They wouldn’t accompany her to draw water but now she brings news of living water to those who hated her. Switching metaphors, Jeremiah also felt how impossible it is to keep God’s word to oneself. When he became discouraged over the lack of effect that his ministry had on others, he wanted to keep God’s message to himself. But when he tried to do that, he found that God’s word was “like a burning fire shut up in my bones and I am weary of holding it in” (Jer 20:9).
I fear that we have found ways to douse that flame and to dam up the flow of living water. Where is our zeal to spread God’s good news? Calvin pointed out, “The knowledge of God cannot lie buried and inactive in our hearts and not be made known to men. For that word must be true: ‘I believed, and therefore I will speak’ (Ps. 116:10)” (p. 104).
The woman exhorted her townspeople, Come, see a man who told me all the things that I have done. Never suppose that people are always unwilling to hear about God’s perspective on their sin. When God is working in a person’s soul, having their sin exposed as sin is actually a relief. One thing that I’ve noticed in many years of ministry is that when God is on the move, sinners are willing to have their sins exposed.
We can learn a lesson from her in learning how to use good questions when sharing the gospel! She frames her question in such a way as to raise their interest and curiosity, this is not the Messiah, is it? As we’ll see shortly, those men immediately decided to investigate for themselves. But first…
III. Doing God’s will brings true satisfaction (John 4:31-38).
When the disciples had left Jesus, He was tired, thirsty and hungry. But now, food isn’t important to Him. They can tell that something has happened. They encouraged Him to eat but He replied, I have food to eat that you do not know about. They wonder if someone slipped Jesus some food.
Jesus did require literal food. But His all-consuming desire was to do His Father’s will. Can you see what He’s doing? It’s like He’s saying, “I’m actually satisfied and full. I’ve already eaten. What do I mean? I’ve just been doing My Father’s will. That is the most satisfying thing for Me. I just found one of My lost sheep and have saved her from her sins. And soon I’ll be feasting again.”
Jesus experienced what Moses taught in Deut 8:3 that “man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord” (Mt 4:4 also). We saw in Heb 10:7 that what drove Messiah in life was this: “I have come…to do Thy will, O God.” That is a quote from David in Ps 40:7-8 “Then I said, ‘Behold, I come; in the scroll of the book it is written of me, I delight to do Thy will, O my God.’” How did Jesus find delight and satisfaction? His will was happily surrendered to God’s will. His will was fully engaged to do God’s will. And just as literal food nourished His body, this spiritual food nourished His soul. How? Doing God’s will produced contentment and satisfaction.
Think about the satisfied feeling you get after a nice meal. You’re content. Full. Happy. That’s how Jesus felt after doing God’s will. Laborers in God’s kingdom experience peace and satisfaction when they’ve been busy at work in ministry.
Along with doing God’s will, Jesus said that He found contentment in accomplishing [God’s] work. Let us stay in our ministries for the long haul. While we may not see immediate results (as happened with Nicodemus), we need to not grow weary and give up. Kevin’s emphasis recently on the glory of God as our goal in ministry is so appropriate. When we don’t see apparent results from our ministries, let us keep doing them as long as we believe God is being glorified. Let us be faithful to persevere. God will use our faithful service to bring about the results He has planned.
The spiritual realm doesn’t always work like the earthly realm. Farmers know that months pass before it’s time to harvest. But Jesus points out that when you sow Gospel seeds, you might be able to harvest right away. And so Jesus helps His disciples see with spiritual eyes.
He instructs them now, lift up your eyes, and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest. Picture this, in the Middle East, it is common for people to wear white robes and white head coverings due to the sun and heat. As many people are making their way out of the city coming to meet the Messiah, Jesus points this out to His disciples. As the Samaritans make their way across the fields, they look like waves of grain ready to be harvested.
Others have labored in sowing seed. Jesus and the woman have been busy! But now the disciples get to go straight to reaping. They will soon be receiving wages, and…gathering fruit for eternal life. This time both sowers and reapers get to rejoice together. Whether you find yourself sowing or reaping or both, you can rejoice in the satisfaction of doing God’s will.
Lift up your eyes. When you look at the lost world around you, can you see spiritually? Do you see thirsty souls? Of course, you don’t know if they need sowing or if they are ready to reap. You won’t know until you engage them with the Gospel. You will sometimes only sow seeds. Others will follow afterward and reap. But there are times when you will reap where someone else has already sown. Be faithful to do both.
IV. Doing God’s will connects sinners to the Savior (39-42).
One thing to learn from these verses is that each person must interact with Jesus. They must be exposed to Jesus, not just to our testimony. Our testimony is not the Gospel. It only draws people to the Gospel. We must make sure that they read the Scriptures for themselves and meet Jesus personally. Our testimony is very important as we see here. But what is far more important is that they are converted to faith in Jesus, not to our testimony. Personal contact with the Savior is vital.
Jesus decided to stay (abide) with them for two days at their request. As they listened to Jesus’ teaching, many more believed because of His word (His Gospel message). We saw the wind blow the first wave across the fields of grain when the people emerged from the city. Now subsequent waves blew across the grain and many more were harvested into the kingdom of God!
We see the ultimate cause of the Samaritans’ faith. It was not the woman’s testimony. They declared that they initially believed because of her testimony but genuine faith took effect because, we have heard for ourselves and know that this One is indeed the Savior of the world. Jesus was not only the Savior of Jews but of Samaritans too. As Savior, Jesus delivered these Samaritans from their sins and from eternal punishment. In its place, He gave them eternal life with God!
Jesus says to us, His disciples: “Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields, that they are ready for harvest.” Serve Him in your ministry and experience the joy and satisfaction of knowing that your Father is pleased with your day. Solomon said we should enjoy our work. How much more should we enjoy our ministry!