READ | SERMON NOTES
Summary l The recent earthquake in Turkey and Syria reminds us that we live in a broken world. However, brokenness is not confined to the external world but is also amongst and within us. Most of the stressful events in our lives affirm that brokenness is close to home. Whether it be the death of a loved one, divorce, personal injury or illness, marriage or marital reconciliation, many in our midst are facing hurts. On this side of eternity, none of us are spared brokenness. Scripture does not paint a picture of perfect families or relationships. From the murder of Cain by his brother to Abraham’s affair with his wife’s maid, from David’s adultery and murderous acts to our nail-pierced Lord dying in front of His mother, the Bible reminds us that brokenness is the great equalizer of humanity. We take comfort in knowing that Jesus is with us in our brokenness. He is the only One who can make us whole again.
a) Jesus knowingly seeks us out in our brokenness.
The Samaritans and the Jews did not associate with each other. Their enmity had existed for generations. Furthermore, the cultural norm of the day forbade men and women to communicate publicly. The Samaritan woman in John 4 had a dubious background. Going to the well at noon was deliberately to avoid meeting others. Yet Jesus sought her out. He intentionally started a conversation with her (vs 9). Today, Jesus seeks us out, as we struggle with our bitterness and shame. His presence assures us and grants us peace. We may not understand His plan but we continue to hold on to His hand.
b) Being vulnerable to Jesus positions us to receive restoration.
Though the woman at the well had not understood the meaning of “living water”, she yearned for it (vs 15). Jesus was referring to the Holy Spirit, the Source of our never thirsting again. But why did Jesus say “Go, call your husband…” (vs 16) when He knew she had several failed marriages? The question sounds like an odd response to the woman’s eagerness to accept the gift of living water. Jesus wanted her to recognise her brokenness and to understand the grace of God. If we deny our brokenness, our hearts will not be ready to fully appreciate and/or receive the redemptive grace that Jesus is offering us. So come in hunger and thirst before the Lord. The woman tries to evade the issue by changing the subject (vs 19,20). Do we cover our brokenness and wear a mask to hide our shame? The first step towards restoration is to step into and recognise our brokenness. “Jesus invites us to embrace our brokenness as he embraced the cross…and not to reject our brokenness as a curse…but to accept it and put it under God’s blessing for our purification and sanctification” (Henri Nouwen).
c) Jesus can turn our mess into His message.
Despite her evasiveness, Jesus continues to engage the Samaritan woman with compassion. Unlike many other places in Scripture where He does not wish His identity to be known, He discloses to her that He is the Messiah. This gentile woman, rejected by her community, was invited to be a child of God. God is constantly seeking us out in our brokenness. Will we surrender all to Him? The woman believed and was transformed (vs 39). She, who was always hiding from others in shame, openly gave her testimony and led others to Christ. God can use our brokenness for His glory. We can become redemptive agents in our homes, workplaces and community. We need to walk with one another through difficult times. Let us not be cold-hearted and callous to those who are broken. Instead, let us show compassion and love to those who are suffering.
Through our Lord Jesus, brokenness can be transformed into blessedness.
(Sermon notes by Angela Goh)
PONDER | REFLECTION QUESTIONS
- What is your understanding of brokenness? Why might some people be afraid of sharing their brokenness? Share an instance when you shared your brokenness with someone and the response was helpful/unhelpful.
- Read John 4:4-26. How did the Samaritan woman try to hide her brokenness? How do people try to hide their brokenness? Why is being in denial about our brokenness unhelpful?
- How does the Samaritan woman’s encounter with Jesus encourage you to turn to Jesus in your brokenness? What did Jesus do or say that encourages you to be vulnerable before him?
- Read John 4:39-42. How was the Samaritan woman transformed from her encounter with Jesus? How did Jesus change her messiness into His message?
- “God uses broken things. It takes broken soil to produce a crop, broken clouds to give rain, broken grain to give bread, broken bread to give strength.” (Vance Havner) Reflect and consider how your brokenness might be used by the Lord to minister to others.
- Share a personal area of brokenness. Pray for one another.