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Transaction or Connection?

• Mark Stromberg

Mark preached from John 4:4-30, 39-42, the famous passage that records Jesus’ conversation with the Samaritan woman. Mark stated that this section of Scripture illustrates the difference between transactional relationships and relationships that connect with people.

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Mark Stromberg, Director of Development for the Northwest Conference of the Evangelical Covenant Church, preached this morning. In his position, he has worked closely with Efrem Smith in planting the Sanctuary Covenant Church in North Minneapolis.

Mark preached from John 4:4-30, 39-42, the famous passage that records Jesus’ conversation with the Samaritan woman. Mark stated that this section of Scripture illustrates the difference between transactional relationships and relationships that connect with people. Jesus builds relationships that connect with others. The context within which Jesus models this is stunning. During Jesus’ day, Jews did not associate with Samaritans; they viewed them as inferior. Moreover, women had very little power and dignity. In his conversation with her, Jesus broke down both cultural barriers and connected with her. In contrast, Jesus’ disciples, in this passage, modeled transactional relationships. John 4:8 states that the disciples went into town to buy food. Mark shared that in a cultural context of neighborliness, where people freely opened their homes and shared food with strangers, this action was amazing. It illustrates that the disciples were willing to transact business with the Samaritans (i.e. buy food), but were unwilling to engage in connecting relationships. By keeping the relationship purely on the transactional level, the disciples were free from any personal engagement.

In what ways does Jesus’ example illustrate how to connect? First, Jesus took the woman seriously as an equal. In his humanity, he conveyed a sense of vulnerability by sharing his need for a drink of water. (John 4:7). Secondly, Jesus valued and respected her. He did not impose who he was on her. Instead, in honoring her, she asked him questions, which led to the opportunity to share about his offer of Living Water. Third, Jesus leveled the playing field by stating that the place of worship was no longer some external location (which the Jews and Samaritans argued over), but instead was within the hearts of individuals (John 4:19-24).

Moreover, this Scripture passage records one of the few times that Jesus shares explicitly his identity as the Messiah (John 4:25-26). This amazing relationship led the woman to testify about Jesus to the whole village, which caused many from the village to believe in him (John 4:39).

Mark closed by challenging the audience to build connecting relationships. He shared that this will happen if we love people unconditionally with no strings attached. Followers of Jesus should model what Paul writes, “Let love be genuine” (Romans 12:9).

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Focus Scripture:

  • John 4:4-30, 39-42

    17 “I have no husband,” she replied.

    Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. 18 The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true."

    19 “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. 20 Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem."

    21 “Woman,” [b] Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth."

    25 The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us."

    26 Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he."
    The Disciples Rejoin Jesus
    27 Just then his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman. But no one asked, “What do you want?” or “Why are you talking with her?"

    28 Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, 29 “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” 30 They came out of the town and made their way toward him.

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