Posted on Wed, Mar 29, 2017
March 19, 2017
3rd Sunday in Lent
John 4:5-42 – “Give me this Water”
5 So he came to a Samaritan city called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6 Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired out by his journey, was sitting by the well. It was about noon.
7 A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, ‘Give me a drink’. 8 (His disciples had gone to the city to buy food.) 9 The Samaritan woman said to him, ‘How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?’ (Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans.) 10 Jesus answered her, ‘If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, “Give me a drink,” you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.’ 11 The woman said to him, ‘Sir, you have no bucket, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? 12 Are you greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us the well, and with his sons and his flocks drank from it?’ 13 Jesus said to her, ‘Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.’ 15 The woman said to him, ‘Sir, give me this water, so that I may never be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.’
16 Jesus said to her, ‘Go, call your husband, and come back.’ 17 The woman answered him, ‘I have no husband.’ Jesus said to her, ‘You are right in saying, “I have no husband”; 18 for you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you have said is true!’ 19 The woman said to him, ‘Sir, I see that you are a prophet. 20 Our ancestors worshipped on this mountain, but you say that the place where people must worship is in Jerusalem.’ 21 Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.’ 25 The woman said to him, ‘I know that Messiah is coming’ (who is called Christ). ‘When he comes, he will proclaim all things to us.’ 26 Jesus said to her, ‘I am he, the one who is speaking to you.’
27 Just then his disciples came. They were astonished that he was speaking with a woman, but no one said, ‘What do you want?’ or, ‘Why are you speaking with her?’ 28 Then the woman left her water-jar and went back to the city. She said to the people, 29 ‘Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done! He cannot be the Messiah, can he?’ 30 They left the city and were on their way to him.
31 Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, ‘Rabbi, eat something.’ 32 But he said to them, ‘I have food to eat that you do not know about.’ 33 So the disciples said to one another, ‘Surely no one has brought him something to eat?’ 34 Jesus said to them, ‘My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to complete his work. 35 Do you not say, “Four months more, then comes the harvest”? But I tell you, look around you, and see how the fields are ripe for harvesting. 36 The reaper is already receiving wages and is gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. 37 For here the saying holds true, “One sows and another reaps.” 38 I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.’
39 Many Samaritans from that city believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, ‘He told me everything I have ever done.’ 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them; and he stayed there for two days. 41 And many more believed because of his word. 42 They said to the woman, ‘It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the Savior of the world.’
When I go out into the neighborhoods, board meetings, shopping and even to the beach, no matter where I go, because of my calling as pastor, I go out as a representative of all of Calvary by the Sea Lutheran Church, meaning I go out representing you and our ministry. It is a huge responsibility, but it is the burden of an ordained pastor. It is almost impossible for a pastor to go out and not carry this identity and just be myself. Thankfully, I am no good at living two lives at once, so what you see me with my collar on, I am the same as when it is off. But somehow, like I alluded to last week, I have found that my collar and office, aren’t a barrier or even a symbol of judgment for most people who aren’t even familiar with the church, but they do seem to recognize that there is a person, pastor, priest in their midst that they can go to if they need to if they need to talk, are lonely, need direction, affirmation or even yes, to confess sins and hear they are forgiven. People come to my office for this all the time, but you won’t find their numbers on the almighty attendance numbers. It seems that people don’t realize that my ministry is for so many people than just those who come to church who can give and make our numbers look good.
Two days ago, I was at Safeway, and saw one of these persons that came to my door for several visits. We saw each other, and we gave each other hugs, and she told me she was doing much better. It was assuring to see how God was working in her life. But what struck me is that a little while ago, she recognized in her heart that she really needed to talk to a pastor about issues in her life that were really more spiritual than emotional or economic. She was very mindful of herself and her needs. We live on an island, so I know I will see her again soon.
On morning of March 17, I began my devotions with these words, and as I read them, I thought about how the woman who came to my door understood her need to be reassured of God’s love and faithfulness. The devotion went like this:
Imagine Jesus speaking to you; “Come to me for understanding since I know you far better than you know yourself. I comprehend you in all your complexity; no detail of your life is hidden from Me. I view you through eyes of grace, don't be afraid of My intimate awareness. Allow the Light of my healing Presence to shine into the deepest recesses of your being – cleansing, healing, refreshing, and renewing you. Trust Me enough to accept the full forgiveness that I offer you continually. This great gift, which cost Me My Life, is yours for all eternity. Forgiveness is at the very core of My abiding Presence. I will never leave you or forsake you.
When no one else seems to understand you, simply draw closer to Me. Rejoice in the One who understands you completely and loves you perfectly. As I fill you with My Love, you become a reservoir of love, overflowing into the lives of other people.” (Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. 2 Corinthians 1:21-22)
Today’s text is about, the transformation of the woman at the well from being an outcast, trapped for the sake of survival in her village, feeling totally alone and rejected amongst her own people, and then she is freed from her bondage because Jesus broke all the social, custom and religious rules just in order to free her from her bondage.
Jesus has sent his disciples out to buy some food, and He enters a Samaritan village all alone and goes right to the well; this is amazing in the fact that Jesus, considered a Jewish Rabbi, has entered a village his colleagues would have considered ‘unclean.’ Jesus was never too concerned about rules when it came to bestowing forgiveness, healing the sick, comforting the afflicted and certainly afflicting the comfortable.
One thing we know is that Jesus is thirsty, but she has the bucket! She has the means of providing water, which even Jesus needs, but Jesus has the Water of Life, which she so desperately!
The woman understands the social norms and etiquette their religious difference demands and responds to Jesus with, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?” This is a very good question for her to ask because one main reason for her being an outcast in her own village is because the local customs and religious demands. (Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans.) Since John wants us to know that Jesus is the Messiah and Savior to all people, Jesus gets to the point of the purpose of approaching her … Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.”
At first she wants this water Jesus offers because if she had water that would allow her to never be thirsty again, and she would be freed from having to come to the well everyday at midday, when the sun was at its hottest, when no one was around to give her ‘stink eye;’ “Give me THAT water!” she says.
But the life that the water Jesus has to offer, is for more than just for quenching our thirst, the water Jesus offers is for quenching our guilt, regrets, self deprecating thoughts, loneliness, and feelings of inadequacy; So then Jesus lets her know what the scripture tells us over and over again. God knows everything about us, even more than we would dare to admit to ourselves let alone our neighbor.
Jesus then openly talks about her past, and the issues that have caused her life to be so difficult and painful. We don’t know exactly why she had 5 to 6 husbands, but according to the customs of her village, women were powerless and considered “unproductive” if they couldn't take care of a family or a husband, were considered as somebody would could be cast our… Her situation was probably more about survival because of the demands of society in her village. Sadly, there are many women living today that live under the very same oppressive and limiting customs.
When she noticed that Jesus had cut to the quick of her painful situation, and did not judge or reject her, the seed of hope in her heart began to sprout. After sharing more about their religious connections rather than difference, she says, 25 ‘I know that Messiah is coming’ (who is called Christ). ‘When he comes, he will proclaim all things to us.’ 26 Jesus said to her, ‘I am he, the one who is speaking to you.’ Just then, her heart perceived Jesus for who he was, and she was filled with so much joy because she was in the presence of the Messiah of both Israel and Samaria, and he was loving, understanding and non-judgmental, she left her precious bucket behind and ran off to tell the others in her village who had judged and rejected EVERYDAY, without any sense of shame, bitterness, guilt or anger. She could have been angry with the people who alienated her and called her dirty for years, but instead she had a heart full of compassion, freedom and joy! It didn't matter how much her neighbors had hurt her, she needed to tell them that the Messiah, the Word made Flesh, the Prince of Peace, the Son of God was in their midst!
Many of the villagers, after hearing from the woman about Jesus, went to see and hear Jesus for themselves. Jesus stayed with them for two days, I can just imagine the excitement and the questions they had for Jesus and the lessons, stories and parables Jesus had for them.
This story is about DOING CHURCH! It is about BEING THE CHURCH! It is about us, as disciples of Christ not just sitting in this beautiful setting being comfortable with ourselves, and our music and programs, doing church is about sharing the Good News about the salvation and forgiveness we have already received through the Cross of Christ and sharing it with our neighbors, inviting people to hear the stories about the one who knows everything we have ever done, and are not judged.
The joy we receive when people hear that Good News of Amazing Grace given to us in a God that knows everything about us, the good and the bad, and still calls us “God’s Children.”
Go out of this beautiful place and share the Good News, live the gift of forgiveness and joy. Let you heart be filled with Joy and Purpose. Amen.
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