SERMON – LENT 3 – 19 / 3 / 2017 – ST.JOHN 4:5-42 (after singing Living Praise 164: O Breath of life come sweeping through us)
Today’s Gospel shows Our Lord Jesus Christ “gossiping” the Good News. Here is no manual to be learned off by heart, instead he shows how fully human he is just by being Himself and being completely relaxed about it, for the fact is that he is tired and thirsty. It’s the middle of the day and he has been walking for several hours, so he chooses not to go in to the village with the others to buy food, and sits down at the well.
The Samaritan woman who walks out to the well alone has chosen to do this because she’s been ostracised (shunned) by her community; she’s had an eye for the men and had stolen 5 husbands using her abundant sex appeal. The Samaritan community is very angry about this!
Jesus asks her for a drink – he’s not afraid to share his need, and as we heard, she responds to Jesus’ offer of living water, misunderstanding him in the process but in a way which doesn’t offend Jesus at all. In the course of this encounter Our Lord is quite straightforward:-
“If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.”
The woman responds in her own straight-forward, matter-of-fact way, “Where can you get this living water?”
Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will never thirst again, but whosever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Instead the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
The woman misunderstands because she is thinking “what if?” “Sir, I don’t want to be thirsty again nor do I want to come out in the heat of the day to avoid the scorn and bitter words of others. So,Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”
Jesus knows that the woman is not understanding, so he changes the subject. “Go, call your husband and come back.” “I have no husband” and Jesus tells her the facts of life:- “You’ve had five husbands and now you have a live-in lover.” He seems to know all about her, yet there are no words of condemnation.
The woman is surprised that Jesus knows everything but changes tack to deflect any further embarrassment – she’s learnt to defend herself in tight situations before.
“You Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”
“Negative,” says Jesus, and then offers us all a spiritual principle:- “True worshippers worship the Father in spirit and truth. God is spirit and his worshippers must worship in spirit and in truth.”
In our worship of Almighty God we must come before him in penitence and faith, humbling ourselves before him, offering him, in love and obedience, our very lives, in the power of the Holy Spirit. If we can do that, we will be close to worshipping him in spirit and truth.
Again the woman changes tack. She’s out of her depth spiritually speaking:- “I know that Messiah is coming – when he comes he will explain everything to us.” And Jesus blows her away:- “I am He.” We are not told whether Jesus ever got his water from the well. Hopefully he did!
Don’t ever get into a serious debate with Jesus over any issue close to God’s heart and mind – you’ll lose. No matter how much we duck and dive, the issue is ultimately is this: Are we going to submit and be obedient to God, or rebel and sin? There is no middle course, and we are continually being challenged to choose God’s way as we go about our daily lives.
The next principle, arising from this morning’s Gospel, is:- “Jesus said to his disciples, “my food is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.” Can we ever say that? We claim to be followers of Jesus – Good! But follow through, please – what is the will of Jesus for yourself? Try writing what you believe to be God’s will for yourself down on paper. Wrestle with the matter – get clarification from Our Lord himself – It’s just you and him, sitting at the well. Being together with Jesus in the silence is important. What is God’s will for yourself in Lent 2017? This is, I believe, an important question.
St. John records that when the Samaritans came to him they urged him, pressed him, to stay with them, and he stayed two days. This is unheard of! Jews accepting hospitality from a mixed-breed race, Jews are an exclusive people. But Jesus breaks rules; so often, God’s view-point is so different from our own. If you dare to consult with Jesus you will be challenged radically! Because of his staying 2 days (and his disciples must have been powerfully disturbed initially, wanting to run away. “This has never been done before – what is my family going to say?”) But they soon relax and enjoy the new experience, as we will too when we allow Jesus to embarrass us to help us grow!
The net result of that visit was that (vs.43) many more became believers. “We have heard for ourselves” they said, “and we know that this man really is the Saviour of the World”, a conviction sometimes lacking amongst believers – which brings us back full circle, to the living water – the gift of God’s Holy Spirit to comfort, challenge, inspire and restore us to the divine benchmark we are called to be!
If you are confused, or not sure, or troubled about Our Lord Jesus Christ and his promise to satisfy your life fully, then you are to believe and take Jesus at his word, for his dialogue with the sassy Samaritan woman is in fact Christ’s personal dialogue and confrontation with you and me. So when you get home, open your Holy bible at St. John chapter 4:10 and burn it into your heart and mind:- “If I know the gift of God, and who it is speaking with me, I must reach out in faith to ask him to give me His very own Living Water. Jesus said: “Whoever drinks the water I give him will never, ever, be thirsty again, for it will become in him/her a spring of water welling up to Eternal Life.” That will make a huge difference to our lives!
So, come Lord Jesus, and fill us to overflowing with this Divine Gift, tailor-made for us all. “Thank you Lord that we don’t have to draw water laboriously, as from a well”, our worship should not be hard work.
Instead, inside each of us this morning, please give us a living, spring of water (God’s Holy Spirit) welling up continually, affecting, influencing our personalities, our thoughts and our bodies. For Eternal life with our Creator and Saviour can be real and meaningful now, and it begins when we believe. Others will notice, and want this living water, too! AMEN.