Lift Up Your Eyes and Look
April 7th, 1957 @ 10:50 AM
LIFT UP YOUR EYES AND LOOK
Dr. W. A. Criswell
4-7-57 10:50 a.m.
In preparation for our meeting, the two sermons today are from the Gospel of John, and the one this morning is in the fourth chapter. It’s a loved and familiar story in the fourth chapter of the Gospel of John. Starts off with our Lord leaving Judea and departing into Galilee:
And He must needs go through Samaria.
Then cometh He to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph.
Now Jacob’s well was there. And Jesus, being wearied with His journey, sat thus on the well.
And there cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water: and Jesus saith unto her, "Give Me to drink."
(For His disciples were gone into the city to buy meat – to buy food.)
Then saith the woman of Samaria unto Him, "How is it that Thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria?" For the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.
Jesus answered and said unto her, "If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, ‘Give Me to drink; thou wouldst have asked of Him, and He would have given thee living water."
The woman saith unto Him, "Sir, Thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep –
I’ve looked down in that well, and it’s a way, way, way down there –
"From whence then hast Thou that living water?
"Art Thou greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, his children, his cattle?"
Jesus answered and said unto her, "Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again:
"But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life."
Then He continued –
"The hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth . . .
God is Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth."
The woman saith unto Him, "I know that Messiah cometh . . . when He is come, He will tell us all things."
Jesus saith unto her: "I that speak unto thee am He."
And upon this came His disciples, and marvelled that He talked with a woman –
not just this woman, a woman, any woman –
Yet they didn’t say, "What do you seek?" or "Why talkest thou with her?"
The woman then left her waterpot –
She came to draw water, forgot about that. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if people could be that interested? –
Left her waterpot, went away into the city, and spoke of the Lord . . .
Then they went out of the city, and came unto Him –
the whole city –
In the mean while His disciples prayed Him, saying, "Master, eat."
And He said unto them, "I have meat to eat that ye know not of." –
All day long He’d fasted, tired with a long journey, but He wasn’t hungry. Wouldn’t that be great? Wouldn’t that be great? So engrossed in the ministry of the Lord, just not hungry –
"I have meat to eat that ye know not of."
Therefore said the disciples one to another, "Hath any man brought Him ought to eat?" –
While we were gone, did somebody feed Him? –
Jesus saith unto them, "My meat is to do the will of Him that sent Me, and to finish His work.
"Say not ye, ‘There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest?’ "Behold, I say unto you, lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest.
"And he that reapeth receiveth wages, and gathereth fruit unto life eternal: that both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together.
"And herein is that saying true, ‘One soweth, and another reapeth’
"I sent you to reap that whereon ye bestowed no labour: other men laboured, and ye have entered into their labours."
Now, I think all of us are familiar with the explanation of why this story begins as it does. Jesus is in the south. He’s in Judah, and He’s going to Galilee. He’s going to the north. And the Scriptures say: "And He must needs go through Samaria" [John 4:4]. Well, wouldn’t that be obvious? Judah here, and Galilee there, and Samaria in the middle: in order to go from Judah to Galilee, you’d go through Samaria, but not a patriotic Jew. No. He would go down into the Jordan Valley and across the river into Perea, and up on the Perean side, and then cross over the Jordan and into Galilee – way away, two or three times as far. He would not dare put his foot on the hated and despised and accursed soil of Samaria.
Well, there’s a reason for that, I say – goes way back to the time when jealousy was ripe between Judah and Ephraim. Then it continued in the wars between Jerusalem and Samaria. Then in 722 BC, when Sennacharib came [2 Kings 18:13, 17], and Sargon [Isaiah 20:1], and destroyed the whole country of Samaria, Esarhaddon, the successor in the Assyrian kingdom [2 Kings 19:37], brought Mesopotamians and settled them down there [Ezra 4:2]. And because they did not prosper, they asked for a priest who would teach them the religion of the land [2 Kings 17:27-28]. And so they became kind of half-Jews, half followers of the Judaic faith. But they were never Jews like the patriotic loyal people who lived in Judah. And [Zerubbabel] refused to let them share in the rebuilding of the temple [Ezra 4:1-3]. And when Nehemiah built the wall, Sanaballat and Tobias, Samaritans, did all they could to hinder the work [Nehemiah 4:1-3].
And that bitterness and hatred grew and grew and grew, and, finally, the Samaritans built a temple of their own on Mount Gerizim, right where Jesus was seated. Mount Gerizim right there – the well here, the mount right there. They built a great temple on Mount Gerizim, a rival of the temple in Jerusalem. And when the Maccabees won the independence of the Jewish nation in 129 BC, John Hyrcanus [164-104 BCE], one of the Maccabees, destroyed the temple.
Ooh, I couldn’t describe the deep-seated bitterness between the patriotic loyal Jew and the Samaritan. So, I say, when Jesus wanted to go to Galilee, ordinarily He’d gone all of that roundabout way. A Samaritan was publicly cursed in the synagogue; a Samaritan could not be adduced as a witness in any kind of a trial; a Samaritan could not be won to the Lord – he was damned forever; the soil of Samaria was cursed soil; and the worst thing they could say about Jesus is in John 8:48: "Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan and hast the spirit of a devil?"
"But he must needs go through Samaria" [John 4:4]. Well, the disciples said, "Master, if we’re going through Samaria, let’s make it quick. Let’s go just as fast as we can. We don’t expect any additions to the kingdom of God in Samaria." And they went to trade with the Samaritans in Sychar [John 4:5, 8] – never occurred to them to tell them that the Messiah is seated out here at the well. "The Lord Himself is in your vicinity. He’s just outside the gate" – never occurred to them. They weren’t looking for anything in Samaria.
So when our Lord spake to them in this wonderful story that I’ve just read in the fourth of John, when our Lord spake to them, He said, "Look up, look there." And the disciples lifted up their eyes and there was a whole little city of eager, hungry-hearted Samaritans coming out to see the Lord Jesus [John 4:30]. "Lift up your eyes and look, look, look." And He not only said that, but He said:
There are influences that work. There are providences of God that you don’t know anything about. You say it’s a hard field, and it is very difficult, but what you don’t know is that on the inside of that heart and on the inside of that house and on the inside of that life there are providences of God that have been working that you know nothing of. Herein is the saying true, "One soweth and another reapeth, that he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together."
[from John 4:30-36]
That brings me to the brief little word for our hearts this morning hour. First, we are to work and to preach with great assurance. We are to expect God to give us a reward and a harvest.
There’s nobody who’s been in this church very long but that knows every time I preach in this pulpit, I expect a reward, a harvest. I look for it. And if it doesn’t come, I just die on the inside of my heart because I know we haven’t prayed and we haven’t worked and I haven’t done good myself. We ought to work with great assurance and high expectation. There are providences, I say, that work for us, that we know nothing about. While I’m here preaching the Gospel, and reading out of God’s Book, and making an appeal for the Lord, the Holy Spirit of God is out there in that congregation and in every man’s heart, and He works and pulls for the preacher. While I say, "Come to the Lord," the Holy Spirit whispers in a man’s heart, "You go; you go."
This great harvest is ripe and ready said our Lord [John 4:35]. How many times is our attitude, "Now, pastor, we must be very cautious now. Now, pastor, we must not be over enthusiastic now. Now, pastor, we must not expect too much now. Now, pastor, remember: it is a great city, and in the city Satan has his throne and the work is hard and difficult"?
No! We’re not to look on it like that. We are to look upon it with great expectation. God will bless the sower, and God will give us a reaped harvest. God will do it "that he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together" [John 4:36]. Our reward is always sure and always certain if we are sowing and reaping in the power and the Spirit of God. And that’s our reward.
Tell me, if I were to stand here and say to you, "My brethren, I’m preaching the Gospel because I am paid to preach it. Mr. Dean Willis, the business administrator, writes me out a check every month. Here I am preaching the Gospel for a paid reward," what would you think?
I am glad to say that the first time I ever was given money for preaching a sermon, I refused to take it. And the good deacon, overwhelmed and astonished and surprised, said, "Why, we’re so happy to have you come, and you paid your way here on the train to preach for our congregation, and you’re going back to school, this is a pittance. We wish it were more, but this is our joy to give it to you." I said, "I won’t take it. I don’t preach for money."
Isn’t it funny that never entered my mind how I was going to live, how I was going to eat, how I was going to buy any clothes? I just hadn’t thought it through. And I was the last one to leave the church, and he left that bill in the hat band of my hat. And I took it home and gave it to Mother. I said, "Mother, this is money for preaching the Gospel, and I don’t know what to do with it." Mother and I dedicated it to the Lord.
A true scientist works and works not for the money he gets out of it, but he works for the reward of finding something God has done and God has wrought. The great English astronomer Kepler [Johannes Kepler, 1571-1630] lived on a pittance and nearly starved to death as he plotted the great planetary motions of the heavens.
Dr. Davidson, a true physician, works and works that he might minister to human need. There’s a lot of them, I know, that work for money – for what they get out of it – but there are lots of consecrated, beloved physicians who work and work till the late hours and the wee hours of the morning in order to minister to people. And their reward is in the feeling in their hearts that this has been done as to God. And now, may I apply that to all of us?
What is our reward? "That he that soweth and he that reapeth" may what? "That they may rejoice together. That both he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together" [John 4:36].
Well, I got to thinking, "What kind of rejoicing is that?" And it just came to my heart. Don’t you remember when the Lord said: "And there is joy in heaven over one soul that repenteth"? [Luke 15:7] "That he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together" [John 4:36].
This is the rejoicing. This is the reward, I think: some of these days, even down here, but especially some of these days when we get to heaven, there’ll be somebody there; and in the heart of that little fellow, you sowed the seed of the Word. And upon a day when the pastor was preaching, down the aisle did the little fellow come. And he’s saved, and he’s in heaven. There was a fine, faithful, devoted Sunday School teacher sowing the seed, and there was a preacher reaping the harvest. The Sunday School teacher is glad, and the preacher is glad. Isn’t that reward enough? Isn’t it? What more would you want?
We have to toil with our hands and work out in this world to make a living, to pay the house rent, to buy the car, to buy food, to buy clothes, but I tell you, that’s about all it’s for. The great rewards are on the inside of the soul. They’re in the heart. They’re of God. They’re of heaven. They are spiritual rewards.
I say, "Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields" [John 4:35]. People are far more ready than you think. "He that reapeth receiveth wages" – maybe not money, but a harvest of souls – "and gathereth fruit unto life eternal" – what God can put in a man – "that he that soweth and he that reapeth may rejoice together. And herein is the saying true, ‘One soweth, and one reapeth’" [John 4:36-37].
Oh, what God hath given to us – we who are privileged to name His name and to share in this incomparable work! So we begin these days of intercession, visitation, and of earnest revival appeal.
Now we’re going to sing a hymn of invitation. The hymn is a church hymn:
I love Thy kingdom, Lord,
The house of Thine abode,
The church our blessed Redeemer saved
With his own precious blood.
I love Thy church, O God;
Her walls before Thee stand,
Here is the apple of Thine eye,
And graven on Thy hand.
For her my tears shall fall;
For her my prayers ascend;
To her my toil and prayers be giv’n,
Till toil and cares shall end.
["I Love Thy Kingdom Lord," by Timothy Dwight, 1800]
And while we sing that song, somebody you, give his heart to the Lord, put his life in the church. In the balcony around, down these stairwells, anywhere on this lower floor, somebody you, give his heart to the Lord or put his life with us in the fellowship of the church, you come. You come while we stand and while we sing.
LIFT UP YOUR EYES AND LOOK
Dr. W. A. Criswell
I. "He must needs go through Samaria."
A. No loyal Jew would go through Samaria
1. Years of jealousy between Judah and Ephraim
2. War between Jerusalem and Samaria
3. After destruction of Northern Kingdom, Assyrians brought Mesopotamians to settle there; became half-Jews
4. Ezra refused to allow Samaritans to rebuilt temple
5. Nehemiah harassed
6. Samaritans built rival temple
E. Worst thing they could say about Jesus (John 8:48)
II. Spirit of disciples
A. Did not expect additions to the kingdom
B. Never thought to tell the people the Messiah had come
III. Appeal of Jesus (John 4:35)
A. Lift up your eyes
1. There are things that have been working on the heart
B. Disciples saw whole city of eager Samaritans coming to see Jesus
IV. The message to us
A. Our ministry is to be done with great expectation and assurance
B. Our reward is sure and certain if we sow and reap in power of God
1. Rejoicing (John 4:36, Luke 15:7)