Sin’s Ugliness vs. God’s Grace

So the Lord Jesus Christ takes us, a company of poor, worthless sinners and things that are despised, and, by the transforming power of His grace, He lifts us into His own likeness, and crowns us with His glory.” – A.B. Simpson from the book Danger Lines in the Deeper Life. 

It would not take much for any of us to get depressed at the things we have done in rebellion to God.  It can be overwhelming to stand before the holiness of God and wonder how it could ever all be made right again.  How can I ever change?

In John 4 there is a story about a woman who had a long list of issues in her past. We find out that she has had 5 husbands and was living with what could potentially be number 6.  She was certainly living with a regret or two with a side of guilt or shame.

I am pretty good, compared to that guy!
I am pretty good, compared to that guy!

The story is of her going to the well to get water; this is a task she had to do over and over again.  I can’t imagine what that was like because we don’t have to work hard to get water today.  But, all the time walking back and forth to the well would leave one to their thoughts a lot.   Jesus interrupts her daily routine to ask her for a drink.  She has no idea why he would ask her for a drink given that she was a Samaritan woman and He was a Jew.  Either he had no idea about the cultural issues between the Samaritans and Jews, or he just had a lot of nerve.  In either case, she had no idea what his angle was. So, Jesus pushed a little more.

“If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” – John 4:10

Can you picture the look on her face?  I think she probably had a rather confused expression while her mind tried to understand what this was all about.  In fact, she vocalizes this: “You have nothing to get water out of the well from.”   In other words, “sir, you are making no sense.  The well is deep and you are empty-handed.”

Jesus goes on: “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I Give him will never thirst.  Indeed the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” – John 4: 13-14

This seemed like a good thing.  I mean, after all, she was coming here daily to carry heavy water back home.  I think any opportunity to make life easier would be nice.  Except Jesus was after something deeper than that; He was after her heart.   He tells  her to go get her husband, hitting at a likely sore spot in her life.   Of course she doesn’t have a husband, something he tells her he is aware of.  In fact,  He makes it clear that he is well aware of her sin and He still wants to offer her a way out.

She is clearly impressed and leaves to go back to town without her water jug.  She came to get water and Jesus had offered her something far greater.  He changed her life.

So many people live with heavy sin burdens like this woman.   They walk around with a burden of sin and regret.   They work hard each day to satisfy a thirst in order to just keep things together.  Jesus offers a way out of that.  In fact, it says that she went back and told everyone about Jesus and many of them believed.  He got to the heart of the matter and offered her grace.  She knew she needed it and that others needed it as well.

Jesus meets people where they are at and calls them out to a place of forgiveness and hope.   The question we all need to consider is: what well are we drawing our water from?  If it is any other place than Jesus Christ, we will never be satisfied.  The thirst quickly returns and the cycle continues.  Sin is not something we should take lightly because when we look at it all in light of the cross, it makes the good news that much better.

“Let me never forget that the heinousness of sin lies not so much in the nature of the sin committed, as in the greatness of the person sinned against.  When I am afraid of evils to come, comfort me, by showing me that in myself I am a dying, condemned wretch  but that in Christ I am reconciled, made alive, and satisfied;  that I am feeble and unable to do any good, but that in him I can do all things;  that while I now have in Christ His mind in part, but shortly I shall have it perfectly in heaven.  – Humiliation from The Valley of Vision.

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