Lent 3

March 3, 2002

Text:     John 4:5-42 (emphasis on verses 27-30)

Title:     “Call Me Now”



I.          Insomnia

·        Have you ever been unable to sleep?

·        Even after a long day, hard work

o       We’ve all been putting in long days lately

§         Building committee

§         After-school program

§         Lenten activities

·        Get home late in the evening – 9, 10, 11 p.m.

o       Collapse onto couch in study

§         Brenda already asleep

o       Expect to doze

§         Wide awake

·        The dangerous move

o       Turn on TV


II.         What’s on late night TV

·        Infomercials

o       Not all that compelling, unless you’re into fat-reducing grilling machines or miracle stain removers

·        Assorted movies

o       Usually so bad that they can only be shown between the hours of midnight and 5 a.m.

·        News, sports highlight shows

o       Yawn

·        That really leaves the late-night TV aficionado with only one viable option

o       Talk

o       Not just “normal” talk shows, but all their dysfunctional iterations

·        “Just happened” to tune into one of these shows while channel surfing in search of an obscure documentary on the History Channel

·        Jerry Springer

o       Ugh

o       Awful

§         But…

§         As I saw the story unfold

·        Typical Springer – “I’m having an affair with my mother’s brother’s cousin’s grandmother – and I’m not sorry!”

§         It occurred to me that the story for this week is rather sordid

§         Kind of story that might merit treatment on Springer or other shows of it’s ilk

·        Try this on for size

o       “She says she has no husband, but in truth…she has had 5!  And the guy she’s sleeping with now isn’t her husband!”

o       you can almost hear the crowd whooping in the background, as the five husbands and the boyfriend all file out on stage

·        arguments ensue – chairs thrown

·        the usual Springer scene

·        why do we watch?

·        What is so compelling about seeing dysfunctional families paraded before us?

·        Some people watch and say, “at least I’m not like them”

·        Others watch and say, “at least I’m not the only one”

·        Why do we watch?


III.       Even more compelling

·        More than daytime/late night shock talk

·        More compelling that Jerry Springer or Howard Stern or Sally or Maury or any of these exploitative shock jocks

o       Miss Cleo

§         Do you know her?

§         “Call me now”

§         self-proclaimed Jamaican shaman, from a line of Jamaican shamans

·        she wants to tell you the future

o       setting rife with mystical trappings

§         candles

§         incense

§         rune graphics

§         thick Jamaican accent

§         just one problem

·        she’s a fake

§         not really from Jamaica

·        from California

o       parents not from Jamaica

§         California and Texas

·        Accent – fake

·        Clothes – fake

·        Name – fake (Youree Harris her real name)

·        Predictions – fake

·        Only thing that’s real is the money she cons people out of

·        In legal trouble in Missouri, Washington, Florida, Texas

o       Many other states investigating

o       All in the news

o       Most amazing fact?

§         In the midst of detailed stories of fraud, deception, dishonesty, etc.

·        People still calling

·        ??????


·        Knowing the future is the be-all-end-all for so many people

·        They’ll do anything

·        Lose all good judgment if there’s just a chance to know

o       Know about future

§         Romantic future

§         Employment future

§         Financial future

§         Relationship future

·        Popular scam that Miss Cleo’s minions use?

o       Tell callers their spouse is cheating

§         Guarantees many more minutes of desperate questioning by the caller

·        All at $4.99/minute

·        Do anything for a chance at knowing future

o       Real issue

o       Control

§         Knowing the future puts me in control

·        Romantic future

o       Dump old boyfriend, new one in the cards

§         You’re in control

·        Employment future

o       Tell off your old boss, new job in the cards

§         You’re in control

·        Financial future

o       Buy whatever you want, windfall in the cards

§         You’re in control

·        Relationship future

o       Catch your spouse cheating, give him the old heave-ho

§         You’re in control


·        All doubt removed

·        All uncertainty eliminated

o       Know who’s the father of your baby

o       Know who’s checking you out

o       Know who your husband or wife is running around with

§         You’re in control

§         “Your readin’ will be amazin’ to ya, Mon!  Call me now!”

·        If only somehow, I could know the future

·        I could finally get control of my life

o       Right?


IV.       The Samaritan Woman

·        To the well for water

o       Alone

§         Apparently she’s not popular among the other ladies of the city

§         Comes in the heat of the day, when no one else will be there

·        Shame and scorn best avoided

·        Encounters Jesus

·        Conversation ensues

o       Longest recorded conversation in NT between Jesus and anyone

o       Seems to be going no where at first

§         To many barriers

§         To much distance between the two

·        Race – she a Samaritan, he a Jew

·        Gender – She a woman, he a man

·        Religion

·        Nothing in common, no means for extended conversation it seems

o       Can’t even agree on terms

§         He says water, she says water

·        But what Jesus means by water is completely different than what she means

§         Johannine double meaning

§         Finally find some common ground in Jacob

·        “Are you greater than Jacob, our ancestor?”

·        “How can I get some of this living water?”

o       Go call your husband

§         Uh-oh

§         The cat is about to be out of the bag

·        My husband?  Don’t have one.

o       You got that right.  You’ve had five, and the one you’re with now isn’t your husband.

§         Back to Jerry Springer

§         She recognizes him as a prophet

§         But is he the Messiah she has heard about?

·        He will proclaim all things to us

·        “I am” vs. “I am he

o       Jesus is Messiah

§         Identifies himself as such

§         But Jesus is more

o       All through John’s gospel

§         Jesus as God’s presence among people looking for a Messiah

·        In the midst of political, cultural, social corruptions of messianic expectations

·        I am the Messiah you have been waiting for


·        Her response?

o       Leaves her water jar and goes back to city

o       “Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done”

§         Can’t be Messiah, can he?

§         Come and see

§         You’ve got to see this

·        Told me everything

o       Unbelievable

o       Astonishing

o       Mystical

§         Almost as good as Miss Cleo

§         Would have been good TV



1.                  what Jesus tells

·        not as many details

·        hits the highlights

·        just enough for her to see that he is a prophet

2.                  accuracy of Jesus’ insight

·        while not as detailed, there’s one thing re: Jesus’ forecast

·        he’s right

3.                  why Jesus tells

·        this most important

                                                               i.      Miss Cleo tells so that we can be in control

1.      “Hey mon, that guy yer seein’, he’s the father of yer baby, yeah.”


·        Jesus tells so that we will give up control in favor of redemption

                                                               i.      Completely different dynamic

                                                             ii.      Control – we’re on the hook

1.      you had control, why didn’t you get it right, etc..?

                                                            iii.      Redemption

1.      We’re off the hook

2.      Christ on the hook

·        Actually, on the cross

·        Christ is headed that way

·        “He told me everything I have ever done”

                                                               i.      amazing

                                                             ii.      astonishing

                                                            iii.      better than Miss Cleo

1.      Because it’s true

2.      Because many believed

3.      Because of why he told her

·        Redemption rather than control

                                                           iv.      She goes to tell others

1.      even though she’s not completely certain of who Jesus is

2.      authentic doubt and authentic witness can go together

3.      the proof?  Others believe

4.      not because of what the woman said

·        because they heard it for themselves

·        now they know

·        “This is truly the Savior of the world”


·        He can’t be the Messiah, can he?