THIRD SUNDAY IN LENT - Series A
15 March 2020
John 4:5–26 (27–30, 39–42)
or John 9:1-7, 13-17, 34-39
Collect for Lent 3 – 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.
We Worship the Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Spirit and Truth of His Gospel
Though the Lord had brought them out of Egypt, “all the congregation of the people of Israel” grumbled against Him, because “there was no water for the people to drink” (Exodus 17:1). Despite their quarreling, the Lord graciously provided for them. He did not strike the people for their sins, but by the hand of Moses He struck the Rock instead and brought forth water for the people. In the same way living water flows from the pierced side of Christ “about the sixth hour” (John 4:6, 19:14), when He is lifted up on the Cross for the sins of the world. He is “the gift of God” (John 4:10), the Well from which the Holy Spirit is poured out and becomes in His people “a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:14). By this grace in which we stand, being at peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, we “worship the Father in spirit and truth” (John 4:23). “We rejoice in hope of the glory of God,” because “God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Romans 5:2, 5).
- John 4:5-26
WORSHIP IN SPIRIT AND TRUTH
Rev. Dr. Daniel J. Brege
But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him (v. 23).
Interestingly it was to a Samaritan woman that Jesus most clearly identified himself as the Christ. She, as a Samaritan, knew that the Christ was coming (although the Samaritans had a different view of the Christ than the Jews), and Jesus states plainly that He, the one speaking with her, is that very Christ, the Messiah who the woman says will declare all things to “us”.
The Samaritans believed that true worship occurred on Mount Gerizim, and the Jews believed it was at the Temple in Jerusalem. Up until the Christ, the Jews were correct, true worship was at the Temple in Jerusalem. In the Christ, however, worship would no longer be associated with a specific location (the Jewish Temple). Salvation is indeed from the Jews (v. 22), but now that the Savior-Christ has arrived, worship would no longer be associated with Jerusalem, nor with the Temple that God directed the Jews to erect there, nor uniquely with the Jewish people. Salvation accomplished in the Christ stretches such concepts beyond any Old Testament worship realities.
Jerusalem, the Jewish race and the Jewish Temple were earthly, physical realities. They were important, but were mere shadows of the ultimate reality (Col. 2:16,17). In the Christ, true worshipers will no longer need to go to Jerusalem to worship. It will no longer be a necessity for worshipers to be Jewish. There will no longer be a need for a physical temple in Jerusalem.
There will indeed be a physical reality to heaven. We will rise with physical (albeit immortal) bodies, and there will be a “new” earth—a physical reality; yet there will be a spiritual reality to such things, even as St. Paul describes our resurrected bodies as “spiritual bodies”—though they will have been physically raised from the graves (1 Cor. 15:42-44). All of this is established because of the physical Christ, and through Him our current earthly realities have been elevated to a truly spiritual level. The earthly Jerusalem has been superseded, for in Christ Jerusalem above, she is our mother (Gal. 4:26). God’s people are no longer a group physically descended from Abraham; they are now those in Christ, for if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s offspring (Gal. 3:29). And the Jewish Temple is now Christ Himself, for He avowed, Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up (John 2:19); and one with Him stand His people as the Temple of God.
So now the worship of the Father is no longer by only Jews at the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem. Now, in the Christ, God’s people of all nations worship Him in spirit and truth. God’s’ people worship the Father not with mere earthly, “fleshly” regulations, but with spiritual (yet tangible) realities that are actually linked with God through the Christ. The work of the priests in the Temple at Jerusalem did not directly link people to and through the Christ. The sacred meals and the holy washings associated with the Jerusalem Temple were preparatory regulations, pointing forward to a time when worship would be in spirit and in truth.
Now Baptism, Holy Communion and the preaching of the Word of Christ are truly direct spiritual links to God. Christ’s death fulfilled all that the Old Testament worship elements were pointing to. Now worship no longer needs such Old Testament shadows, for worship after Christ’s resurrection ascends to God through His Christ. To worship with the New Testament Word and Sacraments is to worship in spirit and truth. Such worship is directly linked to God—who is spirit—by the physically crucified and risen Christ.
ἔρχεται οὖν εἰς πόλιν τῆς Σαμαρείας λεγομένην Συχὰρ πλησίον τοῦ χωρίου ὃ ἔδωκεν Ἰακὼβ τῷ Ἰωσὴφ τῷ υἱῷ αὐτοῦ•
So he came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the field that Jacob had given to his son Joseph.
Jesus had just celebrated first Passover, is headed toward Caprenum and is walking through Samaria.
See Verses 3-4: “he left Judea and started back to Galilee. But he had to go through Samaria”: The direct route from Judea to Galilee was through Samaria. The Samaritans were a mixture of Jews whom the conquering Assyrians (in 721 BC) had deemed too insignificant to deport to Babylon and of Gentile people whom the Assyrians had settled in Palestine. See 2 Kings 17; Ezra 4:1-3; Nehemiah 4:1-9. Relations between Jews and Samaritans were never good, but in 52 AD a clash was so serious that it was resolved by Roman intervention (see Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews 20.6.1-3 118--36; Jewish Wars 2:12.3-5 232--46).
ἦν δὲ ἐκεῖ πηγὴ τοῦ Ἰακώβ. ὁ οὖν Ἰησοῦς κεκοπιακὼς ἐκ τῆς ὁδοιπορίας ἐκαθέζετο οὕτως ἐπὶ τῇ πηγῇ• ὥρα ἦν ὡς ἕκτη.
Jacob's well was there; so Jesus, wearied as he was from his journey, was sitting beside the well. It was about the sixth hour.
It was about "noon”: That a person would visit the well to draw water in the middle of the day is surprising; Water was usually drawn during the less hot times of the day: morning and evening. That the woman draws water about noon suggests that she was an outcast from her village.
Ἔρχεται γυνὴ ἐκ τῆς Σαμαρείας ἀντλῆσαι ὕδωρ. λέγει αὐτῇ ὁ Ἰησοῦς• Δός μοι πεῖν•
A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, "Give me a drink."
Everything Jesus asks is at face value...asking for a drink is not the issue...He gets the drink at the cross
To ask for a drink is similar to a marriage proposal see Moses, Abraham's servant. Nicodemus was Christ's reaching out to the Jews now the Gentiles....
οἱ γὰρ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ ἀπεληλύθεισαν εἰς τὴν πόλιν, ἵνα τροφὰς ἀγοράσωσιν.
For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.
λέγει οὖν αὐτῷ ἡ γυνὴ ἡ Σαμαρῖτις• Πῶς σὺ Ἰουδαῖος ὢν παρ’ ἐμοῦ πεῖν αἰτεῖς γυναικὸς Σαμαρίτιδος οὔσης; οὐ γὰρ συγχρῶνται Ἰουδαῖοι Σαμαρίταις.
The Samaritan woman said to him, "How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?" (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.)
The woman has strikes against her (three)...outcast, woman, Samaritan...
ἀπεκρίθη Ἰησοῦς καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῇ• Εἰ ᾔδεις τὴν δωρεὰν τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ τίς ἐστιν ὁ λέγων σοι• Δός μοι πεῖν, σὺ ἂν ᾔτησας αὐτὸν καὶ ἔδωκεν ἄν σοι ὕδωρ ζῶν.
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."
Verse 10: “the gift of God”: Traditions found in targums show that Numbers 21:16-20 was interpreted such that the place name “Mattanah” there was interpreted in terms of its root (which means gift) combined with the promise in 21:16c, “I [God] will give them water.” Jesus’ comment that he is “the gift from God” may echo this tradition. 7:37-39 links “thirsty”, “living water” and “Spirit”: Jesus becomes the source of living water, the Spirit.
Verse 10: Comments: A legend about Jacob: for him water rose to the top of the well and overflowed: For the legend, see Targum Yerusalmi I Numbers 21:17--18 and Targum Neofit I Genesis 28:10.
Verse 10: “living water”: In Jeremiah 2:13, Yahweh, speaking through the prophet, refers to himself as “the fountain of living water”. See also Jeremiah 17:13.
λέγει αὐτῷ ἡ γυνή• Κύριε, οὔτε ἄντλημα ἔχεις καὶ τὸ φρέαρ ἐστὶν βαθύ• πόθεν οὖν ἔχεις τὸ ὕδωρ τὸ ζῶν;
The woman said to him, "Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water?
Notice the use of plural personal pronouns
μὴ σὺ μείζων εἶ τοῦ πατρὸς ἡμῶν Ἰακώβ, ὃς ἔδωκεν ἡμῖν τὸ φρέαρ καὶ αὐτὸς ἐξ αὐτοῦ ἔπιεν καὶ οἱ υἱοὶ αὐτοῦ καὶ τὰ θρέμματα αὐτοῦ;
Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock."
Vv. 13-15: Not only is Jesus greater than Jacob (for whom the well was an entirely adequate source of water for him, his family and his flocks) but Jesus supplants the reality described in the Old Testament. He is also “the bread of life” which supplants the bread from heaven. See also 6:49-51. In Exodus 16:4, Yahweh tells Moses “I am going to rain bread from heaven for you”.
See Psalm 1, Psalm 46, the tree of Life in Revelation
ἀπεκρίθη Ἰησοῦς καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῇ• Πᾶς ὁ πίνων ἐκ τοῦ ὕδατος τούτου διψήσει πάλιν•
Jesus said to her, "Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again,
ὃς δ’ ἂν πίῃ ἐκ τοῦ ὕδατος οὗ ἐγὼ δώσω αὐτῷ, οὐ μὴ διψήσει εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα, ἀλλὰ τὸ ὕδωρ ὃ δώσω αὐτῷ γενήσεται ἐν αὐτῷ πηγὴ ὕδατος ἁλλομένου εἰς ζωὴν αἰώνιον.
but 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."
Verse 14: “a spring of water gushing up to eternal life”: In 10:10, Jesus says: “‘I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly’”
λέγει πρὸς αὐτὸν ἡ γυνή• Κύριε, δός μοι τοῦτο τὸ ὕδωρ, ἵνα μὴ διψῶ μηδὲ [f]διέρχωμαι ἐνθάδε ἀντλεῖν.
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."
Λέγει [g]αὐτῇ• Ὕπαγε φώνησον τὸν ἄνδρα σου καὶ ἐλθὲ ἐνθάδε.
Jesus said to her, "Go, call your husband, and come here."
Verses 17-18: Jesus’ insight would not surprise his readers: see 1:42 (Jesus knows who Simon Peter is); 1:48 (he knows Nathanael); 2:24-25 (“... he himself knew what was in everyone”).
ἀπεκρίθη ἡ γυνὴ καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ• Οὐκ ἔχω ἄνδρα. λέγει αὐτῇ ὁ Ἰησοῦς• Καλῶς εἶπας ὅτι Ἄνδρα οὐκ ἔχω•
The woman answered him, "I have no husband." Jesus said to her, "You are right in saying, 'I have no husband';
πέντε γὰρ ἄνδρας ἔσχες, καὶ νῦν ὃν ἔχεις οὐκ ἔστιν σου ἀνήρ• τοῦτο ἀληθὲς εἴρηκας.
for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true."
Although Jesus knows everything about this woman's life, as indeed he knows what is in everyone (2:25), there is no mention of sin or sinfulness in this text and no word of judgment or even encouragement to change her life. He simply states fact.
...the woman’s private life, her having had five husbands..is not necessarily proof of a licentious life. She could have been trapped in the custom of levirate marriage (see Tamar in Genesis 38) and the last male in the family line had refused to marry her.
The text portrays her as an example of growing faith. The five husbands can also be a reference to people from five foreign nations who were brought as colonists by the Assyrians when they conquered the region in 721 B.C.E. (see 2 Kings 17:24). This created a situation of intermarriage that was aggravated by Herod the Great who continued with this pattern of colonization by settling thousands of foreigners in Samaria.2 If that is the case, then Jesus is commenting on the Samaritans’ mixed race and culture due to imperialism, not on her private life.
λέγει αὐτῷ ἡ γυνή• Κύριε, θεωρῶ ὅτι προφήτης εἶ σύ.
The woman said to him, "Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet.
Notice the use of plural personal pronouns in verses 20-22)
οἱ πατέρες ἡμῶν ἐν τῷ ὄρει τούτῳ προσεκύνησαν• καὶ ὑμεῖς λέγετε ὅτι ἐν Ἱεροσολύμοις ἐστὶν ὁ τόπος ὅπου [j]προσκυνεῖν δεῖ.
Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship."
λέγει αὐτῇ ὁ Ἰησοῦς• Πίστευέ μοι, γύναι, ὅτι ἔρχεται ὥρα ὅτε οὔτε ἐν τῷ ὄρει τούτῳ οὔτε ἐν Ἱεροσολύμοις προσκυνήσετε τῷ πατρί.
Jesus said to her, "Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father.
To worship in spirit and truth is Trinitarian Spirit, Truth, with the father
ὑμεῖς προσκυνεῖτε ὃ οὐκ οἴδατε, ἡμεῖς προσκυνοῦμεν ὃ οἴδαμεν, ὅτι ἡ σωτηρία ἐκ τῶν Ἰουδαίων ἐστίν•
You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.
Verse 22: The Samaritans accepted only the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Bible) as Scripture.
Verse 22: “for salvation is from the Jews”: John has already told his readers that Jesus supplants Jewish purification rites (see 2:6-11, the wedding at Cana, and 3:25-30) and that the “risen Lord” supplants the Jerusalem Temple (see 2:13-22, Jesus cleanses the Temple), so they know the sense in which this clause is meant.
ἀλλὰ ἔρχεται ὥρα καὶ νῦν ἐστιν, ὅτε οἱ ἀληθινοὶ προσκυνηταὶ προσκυνήσουσιν τῷ πατρὶ ἐν πνεύματι καὶ ἀληθείᾳ, καὶ γὰρ ὁ πατὴρ τοιούτους ζητεῖ τοὺς προσκυνοῦντας αὐτόν•
But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.
Verse 23: “truth”: Jesus is the truth, for he is the revelation of God. In 8:45, Jesus tells some unbelievers: “... because I tell the truth, you do not believe me”. See also 14:6; 17:17-19.
πνεῦμα ὁ θεός, καὶ τοὺς προσκυνοῦντας αὐτὸν ἐν πνεύματι καὶ ἀληθείᾳ δεῖ προσκυνεῖν.
God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth."
λέγει αὐτῷ ἡ γυνή• Οἶδα ὅτι Μεσσίας ἔρχεται, ὁ λεγόμενος χριστός• ὅταν ἔλθῃ ἐκεῖνος, ἀναγγελεῖ ἡμῖν ἅπαντα.
The woman said to him, "I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things."
"who is called Christ" or "which means Christ."
"I know that Messiah is coming’”: The exact nature of Samaritan messianic hopes is unknown. Whatever it was, it was surely based on Deuteronomy 18:15 (a prophet like Moses) for they recognized none of the prophetic books.
λέγει αὐτῇ ὁ Ἰησοῦς• Ἐγώ εἰμι, ὁ λαλῶν σοι.
Jesus said to her, "I who speak to you am he." -
Verse 26: “I am he”: Perhaps Jesus points to his divinity, in an echo of God’s self--identification in Exodus 3:14: “God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM.’ He said further, ‘Thus you shall say to the Israelites, ‘I AM has sent me to you’’”. This is the first of a series of self--revelatory sayings, all echoing an Old Testament formula This is particularly striking in those sayings ( 6:20; 8:24, 28, 58; 13:19; 18:5-8) in which Jesus uses the words I am without any predicate. This verse is in striking contrast to the synoptic gospels, where Jesus tells his disciples not to disclose to anyone who he is. Perhaps he felt he could say openly in Samaria what would have seriously impeded his mission in Jewish territory.
What do you do when you’re thirsty, and you have no bucket, and the well is deep?
Any time we label someone as “other”, for whatever reason be it social, political, racial, religious, sexual, we dehumanize them. That’s a slippery slope. With the label “other”, it becomes easier to call someone a name. It becomes easier to limit rights and create a second-class citizen. It becomes easier to do things that are so cruel and inhuman that we are left wondering how did this happen?
Have you ever had such an experience?
Where do you see this happening today?
In what way can you identify with the woman at the well?
What is the one question you would ask Jesus if you could?
What token of your difficult life would you leave behind? Why?
The contrast between last week's reading and this week's couldn't be stronger -- Nicodemus is male, Jewish, and a religious authority (an "insider"). The woman is, well, a woman, a Samaritan (it might be useful briefly to explain the enmity between Jews and Samaritans), and an outsider (which probably explains why she came to draw water a noon, the worst time of day to draw water but the one where you are least likely to encounter others).
Jesus is not uncovering a 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. Rather, she has most likely been widowed or divorced/abandoned (much the same thing at this time) five times and is now likely dependent on another for subsistence. Jesus, then, is not chastising her or calling her to account; rather he sees her, compassionately naming and understanding her circumstances. This is why she calls him a prophet and risks asking him the central question that divides Samaritans and Jews: the question of where it is proper to worship.
While she came to the well to get water, now that she has met Jesus, "who told me everything I have ever done," she leaves her jar -- the token of her present difficult and dependent life -- behind to go tell others. She has, indeed, encountered living water, has been freed by her encounter with Jesus, and wants to share this living water with others.
Jesus, who is human - in every respect; who suffered weariness and thirst for us, has come and pleads, “If you knew the gift of God…” He comes to you today to offer that gift. His own self, to know and enjoy.
1. Jesus makes us aware of our need for God’s gift.
A. He reminds us that earthly wells cannot quench spiritual thirst. (v.13)
1. We, like the Samaritan woman, have earthly wells of whose waters we boast (v.12) – money, success, possessions, ambitions.
2. There are times when we years for something more than the water of theses miserable wells. (v.15)
B. Jesus puts His finger on sin as the cause of our thirst. (v.16)
1 Jesus condemns as sin actions we may have excused (Vv. 17-18)
2 We can no longer hide or equivocate. (v.19)
3 What is wrong in our life must be made right if we are to have satisfaction.
4 Jesus stimulates in us a desire for the gift of God. (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 shows us where to find it.
2. Jesus shows us where to find this gift.
A. We find it in the true church.
1. We may be perplexed as to which church is right. (v.20)
2. The true church is present where God’s Word is taught purely and the sacraments administrated according to Christ’s command. There we find the gifts of God – salvation (v.22)
B. We find it among true worshipers.
1. They are not bound to any particular place or ritual. (v.21)
2. They worship the true God in spirit and in truth. (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 (v.26) in His Word.
2. We can have Him now , ass we are, in our emptiness and thirst.
3. He is the gift that satisfies (Vv. 28-29)
Do you know the gift of God? Jesus says to you, “I who speak to you am He”
-The Greek New Testament: SBL Edition. Copyright © 2010 by Society of Biblical Literature and Logos Bible Software
-ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
-Schnorr Von Carolsfeld woodcuts, ‘The crucifixion’ and ‘The woman from Samaria’© WELS permission granted for personal and congregational use
-LCMS Lectionary notes © 2017
-Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis
-Lectionary Preaching Resources – Series A © 1986 Concordia Publishing House, St, Louis