LENT 3, A – March 23, 2014

SCRIPTURES – Ps. 84; Exodus 17:1-7; Romans 5:1-8; John 4:5-39

 

     “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty forever. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4)

 

I’m sure you’ve had this happen to you: you go to a restaurant, place an order, and then end up getting something you didn’t order. Aaaagh, that’s frustrating! Well, imagine being told: “Oh, I didn’t mess up your order. I know what you wanted, but I decided to give you something better instead.” Boy, would this make you angry! You’d probably walk out!!

 

Well, this is what our Lord does with us. We hear in today’s Scriptures that Jesus is thirsty, but we’re not told if He ever gets a drink. This is because He makes His own thirst secondary. He primarily thirsts to give water, and when the opportunity arises to do so He sets His thirst aside. His focus becomes the Samaritan woman and her thirst; and, not the water she is thirsting for, but the water she should be thirsting for. But, to get her to focus on this He must take her outside of her comfort zone. He does so by making her focus on her sins.

 

What were her sins? Well, having been married and divorced (it seems) five times was certainly not good. Nor was the fact that she was currently living with a man to whom she was not married. She was looking for love in all the wrong places! This was true of her faith, also; and that, ultimately, was her greatest sin. The most uncomfortable thing that this Samaritan woman had to confront was that her true Messiah and Savior was a Jewish man! Jews and Samaritans, you see, hated each other and had no dealings with one another. But, she, along with the rest of the people from her village, comes to believe that Jesus is “the Savior of the world.” He takes her outside of her comfort zone and gives her the living water that wells up to eternal life!

 

What is your comfort zone? What sins do you not want Jesus to bring up? Well, know this: you can’t hide them, not any of them. As surely as Jesus knew the life of a woman that He had never met, so He knows your life. No sin of yours can be hidden from His eyes.

 

But, don’t let the worst of your sins be that you avoid bringing them to Him. We need to take to heart what the Samaritan woman needed to take to heart: that salvation is located in a Jewish man! The water of life – of forgiveness and peace with God that wells up to eternal life – comes from the man Jesus of Nazareth. Go to Him with your sins and drink from the water of life that He thirsts to give and freely and gladly provides!

 

Go to Him; this is where you must get outside of your comfort zone. The modern Lutheran comfort zone is faith. You know, “we are saved by faith alone, and not by what we do.” This, I hope, is what most of us Lutherans will say, and it is true. But, take note that Jesus says, “God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” You must not content yourself with spirit alone, with faith in the heart. Spirit and truth; heart and true teaching; faith that is located, in a Jewish man who died and rose to forgive your sins and who is present to pour forth living water for you – this is what Jesus points you to. He was present in flesh to pour forth living water unto eternal life to the Samaritan villagers. He is present in Word and Sacrament to pour forth that same living water to us. Go to Him and drink up!

 

But, as you do, also know this: after He quenches your thirst Jesus is going to send you outside of your comfort zone. He is going to send you to others.

 

Did you notice that Jesus’ disciples are barely mentioned in the story of the woman at the well? They were kind of dragged along for the ride. How hard it must have been for those good Jewish men to even be at that well in Samaria! Religious Jews, you see, would not even set foot in Samaria but would go out of their way to avoid it. Well, their Master not only took them into Samaria and to that well; He even made them stay two whole days in their village! Jesus didn’t seem to be too concerned about their comfort.

 

Oh, but He was. He had called them to Himself. He walked with them; He taught them; He shared His Father’s love and mercy with them. He was an ever-flowing spring of water welling up to eternal life from whom they were blessed to drink daily. How blessed they were in Him!

 

But, He wanted them to be a blessing to others, and so He took them outside of their comfort zone. Jesus was not only their Messiah. He was “the Savior of the world.” As He brought the water of eternal life to a Samaritan village, so He would use them to bring it to the world.

 

He will do the same with you. How blessed you are to be with Jesus, to drink from Him as an ever-flowing spring of water welling up to eternal life! “Welling up to eternal life,” Jesus says. Eternal life in Him is not just something you have to look forward to, something that will be yours after you die. It is present within you now, welling up within you to give you strength to fight against temptation; to comfort you when you fail with the peace of knowing that your sins are forgiven; and, oh, so much more! Countless are the blessings we have in Jesus! Great, indeed, is the peace we have with God through our Lord Jesus Christ!!

 

How will Jesus well up in you and overflow to others for their blessing? The Lord tested His people Israel with thirst after He brought them out of Egypt (Ex. 17). He makes us uncomfortable by laying various sufferings upon us:

  • Difficult people. They may be strangers, like the Samaritans were to the disciples, or they may be people who are close to you.

  • Difficult and uncomfortable situations: sins; sicknesses; sorrows; and the like.

    He sends us into the fire of difficulties and sins and trials so that we might pour out upon them the water of life. Being a Christian doesn’t spare you hardships. It gives you “peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:1) so that you can “rejoice in [your] sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” God will bring about good, for you and for others. Christ’s water of life will well up within you and bless you unto eternal life!

     

    The end of all of this was seen by Jesus’ apostle John in the visions that he saw and recorded in the Book of Revelation. He writes in chapter 22:

    The angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads.

    Some of those servants will be Samaritans who had lived in a town called Sychar, who drank from the water of life after they met Jesus personally. Some may be those who drank from the water of life after meeting you. Drink, that Christ and His life may well up within you and overflow from you to the eternal blessing of many!