Lent – the walk with Jesus Lent 3

Posted by Fr. Tere on 03/18/2017

Enduring Presence, goal and guide, you go before and await our coming. Only our thirst compels us beyond complaint to conversation, beyond rejection to relationship. Pour your love into our hearts, that, refreshed and renewed we may invite others to the living water given to us in Jesus Christ our Lord.

Thirst – our bodies crave water. In fact, we are approximately 65% water, on average. No wonder we sometimes feel like we’re sloshing around! Because of this, we need to replenish our supply often.

Jesus and the disciples have been traveling for some time. They were traveling from Judea to Galilee, about 70 miles, a trip of 2 ½ or so days walking in the hot sun. As John calls attention to Jesus’ divinity at the beginning of his Gospel, now he calls attention to his humanity. At about 6 PM, he tired, dirty, hungry and thirsty. The disciples go to town to buy food, but Jesus waits at Jacob’s Well, 100’ deep, spring-fed. While he waits, a woman appears from the town to draw water to carry back to Sychar, about a mile away.

Under normal circumstances, no words would have been exchanged, for three reasons: 1) she was a Samaritan. They were seen has half-bloods (remember Harry Potter) – half-Hebrew, half the religion. 2) she was a sinner – and Jesus knew that. 3) she was a woman – who were held in especially low esteem by male Jews. But speak to her, Jesus did.

By watching carefully this story, we can see one way that Jesus led others to faith in him and in the Kingdom of God.

First, he got her attention – he went out of his way to ask her for a drink of water. Since she never expected to speak to him, she was startled: how can a Jew ask a Samaritan for water? They have nothing in common.

Second, he increased her attention – he said that if she knew who he was she would have asked him for a drink of living water. She wanted to find out more about this “living” water.

Third, with his explanations, she knows she wants some of this living water. By asking her to bring her husband to see him, he allows her to expose her deepest sin and her painful background. She has been dumped, abandoned, by five different husbands. Now she’s living with a man who is not her husband. Can you imagine her view of herself? She has been kicked around her entire life, and is now living in deepest sin. Yes, she needs something new.

Fourth, he gives her a spiritual path to forgiveness. He tells her that salvation does come from the Jews, but it involves worshiping in Spirit an in truth, not worshiping at a particular place in a particular way. He draws Samaritans into the realm of forgiveness by eliminating one of the greatest obstacles – worshiping in Jerusalem. He doesn’t let them get by with their faulty theology and changing the rules when it suited them – salvation could only come through the Jews.

Five, he didn’t leave her without hope. If salvation could only come from the Jews, she was all but lost. She knew her theology, though, as she was hoping for the Messiah.  Jesus told her he was the Messiah, and it was through him (a Jew) who could bring salvation. He believed and trust him for salvation.

Six, having received and accepted forgiveness, amendment of life, and salvation, she did what a new follower usually does – she shared what she had learned, and excitedly told the entire city about this Jewish Messiah who could set people free from their sins. She must have been very excited – the entire city came out to the well – and salvation came to Sychar, and eventually to Samaria.

How are we at sharing the good news with someone to whom God leads us? Can we accept them where they are, move at their pace of understanding, share the most important news that anyone can ever receive, especially when they are deep in sin, deep in sorrow and despair? Are we willing to be like this woman, and share all that we have been given, even knowing it is likely to be refused and people might laugh at us? Or worse, might report us for “attacking” them with religion, or Christianity?

Jesus doesn’t ask much from us – he asks everything.                             Pastor Tere

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