Full text of author and bishop TD Jakes’ sermon tiled “It’s Not What It Looks Like.”
Best quote from this message:
“Some trust in horses, some trust in chariots, but I will remember the name of the Lord.”
TD Jakes – Bishop of The Potter’s House
Greetings friends in the name of Jesus Christ our King I’m so excited to have this opportunity to share the word of the Lord with you. I’ve got an exciting word for you: IT’S NOT WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE. You’ll understand it better in a moment.
I believe the word is going to bless your life. Get ready, get ready, get ready, here it comes: It’s not what it looks like.
The fourth chapter of St. John, the 25th verse, is at the end of a narrative where the Gospel of St. John points to a unique story about Jesus coming to the Samaritan woman down at the well, and the conversation has ensued between them and we will begin at the ending or near the conclusion of the conversation, between the woman at the well and Jesus.
Verse number 25: The woman saith unto him, I know that Messiah is coming which is called Christ. 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 the woman: yet no man said what seekest thou or white talkest thou with her?
The woman then left her waterpot and went her way into the city and saith to the men: come see a man which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?
Then they went out of the city and came unto Him.
Now the normal direction of reading such a text would lead us to this evangelistic endeavor of this woman who goes down into the city of Samaria to say come see a man which told me all things that I’ve ever done.
But I going to avoid that, and instead go to verse 27, and upon this came his disciples. Upon what? Upon the conversation between him and the woman.
And upon this came his disciples and marveled that he talked with the woman, yet no man said what sleekest thou or why talkest thou with her? That’s where I’m going to focus my thoughts this morning.
The 27th verse… and my subject is: IT’S NOT WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE.
Look at your neighbor and say: It’s not what it looks like.
It is odd that John takes us in the fourth chapter to a rest stop if you will, where Jesus sets down to rest at the well and sends his disciples after meat… and sends them out to get meat so that they might return to the well.
And when they returned to the well, the oddity of the situation is the Lord who sent them to get meat and bread, when they returned with the meat and bread says I’m not hungry.
Now you must understand that they traveled by foot and it took a while to go on such an errand. It took quite a while ago on an errand, and you would think that if you sent your disciples twelve to go get lunch and all of them walked off and left you by yourself, twelve men going to get lunch for one man, he should have been pretty hungry.
And then when they come back with the lunch, there he is sitting by the well talking to this woman. And though they had too much respect for him to question him, the Gospel of St. John reads their mind, says, “Wait a minute, I thought you were hungry. Now you say you have meat that we know not of. And I thought you were tired, and we come back and you’re engrossed in this conversation with this woman.”
And he says, “It is not what it looks like.”
You must realize my brothers and sisters, for Jesus to say that he must need go through Samaria, that was startling alone. If we could excuse the fact that he has become engrossed with this conversation with this woman of a questionable past, we still have the glaring reality that what is this Jewish teacher doing in Samaria.
Any self-respecting Jewish theologian would have never come into Samaria in the first place. There was a war between the Samaritans and the Jews as it related to the fact that the Jews rightly resisted the fellowship with the Samaritans, because the Samaritans had a form of godliness denying the power thereof and they would not allow them to pass themselves off as if they were the same thing when they were not at all the same thing.
There was a war between them. The Samaritans were considered unclean. They had no dealings with them. They had no plan for them. They had no future for them because they knew things about the Samaritans that would have exempted them from being eligible to have a legitimate relationship with God.
Now it’s one thing when people are saying things about you that are not true. But it’s another thing when they have legitimate reasons to alienate you and attack you on the basis of past mistakes. It is not that Jesus is not aware of what is being said about the Samaritans; he is pointedly and poignantly aware of the Samaritans about their idolatrous ways, about their mistakes, about their failures. And yet he says I must need go to Samaria.
Why would you be bothered with Samaria anyway? They are heathens; their past is ruined; their mistakes are bad; they didn’t help us in the rebuilding of the temple. In fact, they were thorns in our flesh. They are a mixed multitude and amalgamation of a lot of different ideas, these people are confused.
And what church people have a tendency to do… when they think that you are confused and they don’t agree with you, they either attack you or alienate you.
But I’m so glad that Jesus is not like church people. He said I must need go through Samaria. In other words, “I’m going out of my way to go after a group of people that everybody else has rejected, because just because you have not included them does not mean that I don’t have a strategy for their lives.
And not only are they important enough that I have added them to my agenda, included them on my itinerary, but I am willing to sit by the well all day to find one person who can help me break down the wall and get into Samaria, one person.”
Now, I would have thought Jesus being the son of God, Jesus being of the tribe of Judah, Jesus being the seed of Abraham, Jesus being the root of Jesse, that if he was going to infiltrate the Samaritans and break into their world, he might have talked to their magistrates, their kings, their leadership, their authority.
I would have thought that he would have made an appointment, at least with one of their priests, in their ruined temple and battled their Scripture against Scripture to bring them into a reformation of truth. I would have thought that Jesus would have written a blog site and said, “They’re in error, and they’re in heresy,” and attacked their integrity.
I would have thought that Jesus would have put them on blast in some sort of way, dealing with their leadership to break into the city, but, no, Jesus doesn’t pick the aristocracy of Samaria. He doesn’t pick the religious scribes of Samaria, but he sits by the well not even waiting on a man. He waits on a woman, a woman of Sychar, to come down to the well.
The Bible doesn’t even give us the name of this woman. She is a nameless woman, and yet Jesus sits down at the well and waits to meet her. He sends his boys on an errand because sometimes even the people who are with you do not understand your vision, and they will alienate you from the very people that God sent you to serve and to save, because there is nothing and there is no group of people that act any more important than the people that are with the man of God, often act more important than the man of God himself.
I’m going to work on this a little while. Jesus knew that he could not get done what he was trying to do surrounded by his disciples. They had already tried to shut up blind Bartimaeus who sat by the highway side begging. He was too loud, and he makes too much noise.
And what about the woman who came to Jesus crying after her daughter? They said, “Send her away, for she crieth after us.” These disciples would have messed up the mission because they were so indoctrinated with preconceived ideologies, that there was no room for revelation to break through their orthodox religion.
Some people are so religious that they miss the revelation that there are other people who may be theologically wrong but God still has a purpose for their life and them also must I bring. Oh, glory to God, so Jesus sat down at the well, and he began to wait for this woman to come down to the well.
And when she comes down to the well she has an attitude. She has the kind of attitude that results from people who are used to being attacked. She does not wait for him to attack her. She comes down to the well and attacks him, saying, “Now you know that your people and my people don’t have any dealings. You already know, so don’t come down here trying to be nice to me, because you know we don’t have any talk.”
Sometimes people who have been hurt are the hardest people in the world to help, because even when you reach out to help them, they already have an attitude. You have never been fought like you will be fought by somebody you are trying to save from drowning. Even though your intentions are good, their desperation is so bad that you can get killed trying to help somebody who’s hurting. Oh, y’all know here what I’m saying to you.
But Jesus begins to deal with her, until in the next phrase she goes from being sarcastic to calling him “sir”. She calls him “sir” because now she begins to understand that he is due some respect, and then later on she acknowledges him as a prophet, and then later on she brings up the Messiah, and then later on he says, “I that speak am he.”
Look at how God is bringing this woman into gradual revelation. He goes from being an enemy and an alien to a sir, from a sir to a prophet, from a prophet to the Messiah. Isn’t it nice how God will bring you into truth? Not one step, but several steps to bring you into the enlightenment of what God would do in your life.
And I want to take a moment and just thank him for waiting on me. I haven’t always thought what I think now, and I didn’t always know what I know now, and I didn’t always feel the way I feel now. But when I had the wrong attitude and the wrong spirit and the wrong aspect on faith, I want to thank him for being the kind of patient God who could have cut me out of his schedule, but sat down by the well and waited for me to come into a progressive revelation of who Christ is in the earth.
“I that speak unto thee am he.”
Touch somebody and say, “He is”. Everything you’ve been looking for, he is everything you need, everything you want, everything you seek, everything you long for, everything you have been craving for, and he’s been waiting on you.
All your life, all while you were drunk, all while you were high, all while you were in hotels, all while you were serving other gods, he sat down by the well, and he waited on you. You might not be important to anybody else, but you must be important to God. He stopped the gun from killing you. He stopped the car wreck from destroying you. He stopped the disease from attacking you. He said, “Leave that girl alone. I got a plan for her, and I’m waiting on her.”
Everybody who’s ever had God wait on you, take just a moment and give the Lord a praise!
In order to infiltrate the indoctrination of their theology Jesus allows this woman the benefit of a comparative analysis. He does it this way: he comes to Jacobs well. It is called Jacob’s Well, because Jacob dug this well through solid rock. It is a cistern of water that has now begun to feed these people who have become indigenous to this area and are living in Samaria. It is Jacob’s Well… Israel’s well, what the well is in the earth, Christ is in the spirit, for Christ is of Jacob. He is born to Israel. He is the well of living water.
So what you have here is a well sitting on a well, and here comes an empty woman down to the well that she has already come to all of her life, but now there is a well sitting on a well. He starts the conversation by saying, “Give me to drink,” knowing that her pots are empty when he asks the question, knowing that her religious dogma would alienate her from giving him water, knowing that even his own disciples would not approve of him asking this woman for some water seeing as she is a Samaritan woman.
He knows she cannot give him what he asked for. God always ask us to give something that we cannot give without him so that his request will create a thirst to ask him to give us what he asks us for so that we can give it.
Oh, now can I go just a little bit deeper with this? The well is sitting on a well, and he asked her for water, and she’s suspicious. She said, “Mm, you come down here saying you want something to drink, and you didn’t bring nothing to draw with? Sound like a pickup line to me”.
She said, “You ain’t got nothing to draw with.”
And he says, “If you knew the gift of God, you would ask me for water”.
Now, he’s switching up on her because he asked her for water. He said, “But if you saw the well that’s sitting on the well instead of cross-examining me about that which is temporal, you would bypass your well and come to my well and ask me for that which is eternal.”
She said, “Oh, yeah? What’s so good about your water”?
He says, “If you drink of the water in here, you will thirst again. But if you drink of the water in here, you will never thirst again.”
Now she’s confused. She knows she has a need. She knows she needs to draw. She doesn’t know whether to draw from the physical or the spiritual. She says, “But this is water, and this is a well, and this is where everybody else goes.”
And he’s saying, “It’s not what it’s look like.”
Just because everybody goes there doesn’t mean that it will satisfy your thirst. It may look like it will satisfy your thirst, but it is not what it looks like. I don’t know who I’m preaching to this morning, but I feel like I’m already talking to somebody.
The enemy is showing you how to get your needs met, and he says he’s got a solution to your problem, but the Lord sent you here this morning so that you would have a warning. That that looks good is not good. It is not what it looks like. Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord.
Some trust in horses, some trust in chariots, but I will remember the name of the Lord. Slap your neighbor and tell ’em, “It’s not what it looks like”. All that glitters is not gold. Just because it winks at you doesn’t mean it’s a blessing. Just because it takes advantage of your need doesn’t mean that God has answered through what you’re about to do. You need to stop and be still.
I hear the Lord saying that the coming of Ishmael is a sign that Isaac is on his way. The false always comes before the real and if you have the power to say NO to this well, you will open up to this well, and your latter day shall be greater than your former day. I don’t know who I’m preaching to, but if you think it might be you, give God a praise or credit.
And she says, “Well, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw.” She says, “I am tired, since you brought it up, stranger. I am tired of going back and forth and back and forth and back and forth and back and forth to the same old stuff that just gets me by for a little while and then I gotta go back and do it again and again and again and again. And I’m old enough now and I’m wise enough now to value my time, and I don’t want to go through the next year what I went through the past year, going through the same old deadbeat stuff to get a little water to get me by for the weekend. Give me this water so I can finally thirst not, settle down, master what God has called me to be, step into my destiny, out of my history. I’m ready to get this water. I’m too old to spend another year going through the same old stuff over and over again. I need a breakthrough.”
Is there anybody in the house this morning who’s ready for a supernatural breakthrough? Give God 20 seconds of praise.
Touch three people for me and tell them, “You’re getting close”. You’re closer than you’ve ever been. You’re closer than you’ve ever been in your life. You’re nearer than you’ve ever been in your life. You’re nearer to the peace you’ve been looking for. You’re nearer to the power you’ve been looking for. You are nearer to the goal that you’ve ever been in your life. Ain’t no time to stop now; press your way. That’s why the devil’s fighting you. That’s why the enemy’s trying to destroy you. That’s why all hell is breaking loose in your life, because the enemy knows you have an appointment with destiny, an appointment that you didn’t set, an appointment that you didn’t know you had.
You think you’re just going down to the well to get the same old stuff again, but this is a setup. God is about to change your life. God is about to give you a breakthrough. God is about to deliver you. God is about to snatch you out.
Tell your neighbor I’m on the verge of something big. I’m on the verge of something big. I know it looks like I’m not much. I know it looks like I don’t have anything. I know I did some dumb things in my past but I’m on the verge of something big.
And I want to tell the devil you think I’m a chump; it’s not what it looks like. God has a plan for my life. God has a joy for my life. God has the victory for my life. God has deliverance for my life. Somebody praise Him. Anybody praise Him. Everybody praise Him. Let everything that has breath.
Walk over and slap somebody and say, “It’s not what it looks like.” You think I’m not going to be nothing, but the devil is a liar. You think I’m not going to make a comeback, but the devil is a liar. You think I’m not going to get a breakthrough, but the devil is a liar. Tell everybody who left you, “It’s not what it looks like. You thought I was a sinking ship, but the devil is a liar.”
I’ve got a closure but it’s been a real joy to have the opportunity to be a part of your life and to share the word of the Lord with you. I pray that the word would sink deeply into your heart and then it would bring forth real fruit into your life. May God bless you and heaven smile upon you until you and I can get together again. Take care.
Resources for Further Reading:
- Preparing for Hard Times: David Wilkerson (Transcript)
- The Healing of the Troubled Mind: David Wilkerson (Transcript)
- Priscilla Shirer: You’re Right Where You Need to Be (Transcript)
- R.C. Sproul: What Is Evil & Where Did It Come From? (Transcript)
- Israel, Hamas, and End Times: Gary Hamrick (Transcript)