March 12, 2023
Third Sunday of Lent
READINGS AND PSALM
Grace and Peace to you from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
The writer of John paints a stark contrast between the Jewish leader, Nicodemus in chapter three and the Samaritan woman at the well in chapter four. The Pharisee and religious leader in chapter 3 has a name, the woman in our lesson for today from chapter 4 is unnamed. The man was a Jew and the woman was a Samaritan. Nicodemus approaches Jesus in the middle of the night. The woman encounters Jesus in broad daylight at noon. Nicodemus is confused, the woman is insightful. Nicodemus returns to his home still in the dark, still not convinced that Jesus is the Messiah. The woman goes and tells the people of her village that she has found the savior of the world.
Here in western Nebraska, we know what thirst is like during our hot summers. We also know how delightful it is to drink a cold glass of water on those hot days. When we were thirsty, the thought of seeing people in undeveloped countries drinking water that looked disgustingly dirty may have crossed our minds. We probably told ourselves that we would never drink water like that. But when we were thirsty and without water, the thought may have crossed our minds that even that dirty water would taste good.
The woman who met Jesus needed to come to the well to fetch water regularly. Since it was so hot, most of the women came to get water early in the morning or in the evening to avoid the scorching Palestinian sun. This woman came at noon…probably to avoid all the other women, who probably ostracized her for her lifestyle. She had been married 5 times and was now living with a man who wasn’t her husband. At any rate, she met Jesus and after a brief conversation Jesus offered her living water—he offered her himself.
We are a thirsty people—not only physically but also spiritually. Saint Augustine is credited with saying, “You have created us for yourself, and our heart is not quiet until it rests in you.” Too often though, we attempt to quench our thirst by filling our hearts with the dirty water of this world—power, prestige, comfort and security. Jesus offers us himself—living water—but we don’t discipline ourselves to take the time to drink the water Jesus offers so that we will never be thirsty again.
Jesus’ comments to the woman about her not having a husband cause her to realize that Jesus is at least a prophet. She asks him where the proper place for worship of God is located. The Jews worshipped at the Temple on Mount Zion in Jerusalem. The Samaritans worshipped at the temple on Mount Gerizim. Jesus replies that the days are coming when the temples will be obsolete. It won’t matter where a person worships because God is spirit and people will worship God in spirit and in truth. Now there are many ideas about what Jesus meant when he said this, but I think Jesus is saying that the point of our worship is the Holy Spirit who is present in our lives. His reference to the truth doesn’t mean correct beliefs or proper rituals. Instead, I think Jesus is talking about how people should live lives of integrity and authenticity in response to God’s love and grace.
As Jesus and the Samaritan woman are still at the well, the disciples return from their shopping trip and are astonished that Jesus is talking with a woman. The woman leaves her water jar—she has more important things to do than collect water—and she returns to her village. The woman tells the people what has happened to her and invites them to come and see Jesus. The people follow her back to Jesus, see him and listen to him and ask him to stay. Jesus stays with the people for a couple of days. When he leaves, the people comment that at first they believed because of what the woman said. Now, however, they say that they believe because they have seen and heard Jesus.
The Samaritan woman is one of the first evangelists in the Bible. She can be a model for how we share God’s love and grace with the people around us. We invite our family, friends, neighbors and co-workers to “come and see.” Jesus will meet them where they are and offer them living water exactly like he has offered it to us. One sip and they too will realize that Jesus is the savior of the world.
Seekers come in every shape, color, nationality and age. Like us, they come because they are thirsty. Together we “come and see”—not once but daily. We live in God’s grace and love and drink from God’s bottomless well of living water.
And All of God’s People Say…Amen
GRACE: Lyn Wilds, Bob Teague, Rob (Bob’s son), Gene Bittner, Gerald Bairn, John & Cristy and their 5 kids
GLORIA DEI: The Family of Chris Paulsen, The Family of Don Gehrig, Wayne Fraass, Lloyd Frerichs, Pat Rufenacht, , Richard Bruns, Gerald Bairn, Norma Michelman, Paul Kaiser
BLESSING: And may the Lord bless you and keep you. May the Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious unto you. May the Lord lift up His countenance upon you and + give you peace. Amen.