Friday, March 17, 2017

Lent 3

Lent 3
March 19, 2017
John 4:5–26 (27–30, 39–42)
Hymn of the Day; LSB #824 “May God bestow on us His grace

O God, whose glory it is always to have mercy, be gracious to all who have gone astray from Your ways, and bring them again with penitent hearts and steadfast faith to embrace and hold fast the unchangeable truth of Your Word; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. 

The contrast between last week's Gospel and this week's couldn't be stronger! -- Nicodemus is male. Jewish. A religious authority. An "insider." 

This woman. Has three strikes against her! She was an outcast…she was a woman…and she was a Samaritan. This probably explains why she came to draw water a noon. The worst time of day to draw water. But a time in which you are least likely to encounter others.  

Relations between Jews and Samaritans were never good. The Samaritans were a mixture of Jews whom the conquering Assyrians in the year 721 BC had deemed “too insignificant” to deport back to Babylon. So they intermarried with Gentiles whom the Assyrians had settled in Palestine.  

Their religion was not mainstream. They accepted only the first five books of the Bible. And that was it. Their temple was on Mount Gerazim instead of on Mount Zion in Jerusalem.  

Rather than contaminate themselves by passing through Samaritan territory, Jews who were traveling from Judea to Galilee or vice versa would cross over the river Jordan…bypass Samaria by going through the Transjordan, and then…cross over the river again as they neared their destination. (Almost akin to taking the long road to get to the Nine Mile Place.) Just to avoid traveling through Poe…

The Samaritans also harbored antipathy toward the Jews. Nope. They didn’t play well together. So, it’s quite natural for this person to ask Jesus, "How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?" (v.9)  That’s the backstory to this chance meeting at high noon. In a far gone Samaritan village.

Yet, through this encounter. We discover the true gifts of God.  

Jesus leads us to know the gift of God

1. Jesus makes us aware of our need for God’s gift.
A. He reminds us that earthly wells cannot quench spiritual thirst. “Jesus said to her, ‘Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again.’” V. 13
1. We, like the Samaritan woman, have earthly wells of whose waters we boast. She says, “Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock." (v.12) – So what are those things you take stock in? The list is endless. Money. Success. Possessions. Ambitions. All these things are good. However, they are NOT who you really are.  
2. There are times when we yearn for something more than the water of these miserable wells. “The woman said to him, ‘Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water’." (v.15)
B. Jesus puts His finger on the cause of our thirst. “Jesus said to her, ‘Go, call your husband, and come here’." V. 16
1. The woman answered him, "I have no husband." Jesus said to her, "You are right in saying, 'I have no husband'; for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true."  (Vv. 17-18)
2.   We can no longer hide or equivocate. The woman said to him, "Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet.” (v. 19) Notice Jesus’ words. Jesus is not chastising her or calling her to account. Rather He sees her. Compassionately naming and understanding her circumstances. Jesus is not uncovering her shameful past. Or exposing her life of sin when he says she has had five husbands and the man she is living with now is not her husband.  Possibly, she was widowed. Or divorced. Or abandoned. Five times this had happened. And is now. She’s likely dependent on another - for subsistence and survival. In fact, we really don’t know anything about her. Yet she calls Jesus a prophet. Now that she has met Jesus, "who told me everything I have ever done," she leaves her jar behind -- the token of her present difficult and dependent life - to go tell others. She has, indeed, encountered living water. She has been freed by her encounter with Jesus. And having done so. She wants to share this living water with others.
3. What is wrong in our life must be made right if we are to have satisfaction. Hence, we come today in repentance and faith.  And what is repentance?  Repentance is giving up all hope of a better past. While faith is found in forgiveness. Which is no longer haunted. By a troubled past. 
4. Jesus stimulates in us a desire for the gift of God.  “Whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." (v.14)

Transition: Jesus leads us to know the gift of God by first bringing us to an awareness of our need for that gift. Then He show us where to find it. 

2. Jesus shows us where to find God’s gift.
A. We find it in the true church.
1. Many today are perplexed. As to which church is right. The woman responds, “Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.”  (v. 20)
2. The true church is present where God’s Word is taught purely and the sacraments are administered according to Christ’s command. There we find the gifts of God – salvation. Jesus responds. “You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know.” (v.22) - John has already told his readers that Jesus supersedes Jewish purification rites at the wedding of Cana… and later he will remind us that the “risen Lord” replaces and unseats the Jerusalem Temple. Jesus is the truth, for he is the revelation of God.
B. We find it among true worshipers.
1. They are not bound to any particular place. "Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father.” (v.21)  - To worship in spirit and truth is Trinitarian. To worship the Spirit, in Truth, with the Father.
2. They worship the true God in spirit and in truth. –“for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.” (v.23)
a. God is not bound to any outward group or building.
b. Church organizations can cease to exist, but true worshipers, who make up the church, will continue. 
C. We find it in the Savior Himself.
1. Jesus reveals Himself to us in the Word. “Jesus said to her, ‘I who speak to you am he’."  (v.26)
2. You can have Him now. As you are. In your emptiness and thirst. 
3. He is the gift that satisfied. “So the woman left her water jar and went away into town and said to the people. ‘Come; see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?’” (Vv. 28-29) 

Do you know the gifts of God? Jesus says to you, “I who speak to you am He.”
Words – 1,280
Passive Sentences –3%
Readability – 77.8%
Reading Level –4.7
Image: Schnorr von Carolsfeld woodcuts © WELS for private and congregational use

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