Monday, March 28, 2011

One Greater Than Jacob

T Lent 3 – March, 27th 2011 T
Text: Exodus 17:1-7; John 4:5-26

In the Name of the Father and of the T Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.
            Today’s Gospel reading feels a little like an Old Testament déjà vu.  Anytime you want to know where to meet people, you go to the local watering hole.  It’s how Isaac met Rebekkah; Jacob met Rachel and now centuries later at a different well - weary from travel, Jesus came to satisfy His thirst at the well that Jacob had given for his sons to drink.  Jesus - the One to whom sun, moon and stars bow down, the One whom fields and trees truly adore - was thirsty. 
            Jesus knows what it means to thirst – and that’s no metaphor.  Jesus really became hungry and tired and later bled and suffered and died.  He really thirsted because thirst is real.  And in the same way, Jesus didn’t come to bear metaphorical sins but real ones – because you don’t have metaphorical sin, but real sin.  And greater still, a real Savior.  For this is not the last time Jesus would thirst.
            But, Jesus wasn’t the only one in need of a thirst quenching drink.  He met a woman from Samaria who had come to draw water.

              It’s almost like He’s courting, although not in a tawdry, Davinci-Code-conspiracy kind of way.  Rather, Jesus comes with love - divine, sacrificial, merciful, crucified-and-risen-for-you love - for the Samaritan woman and all who are far off.  Jesus is the gift of God for that Samaritan woman and you, His Bride, the Church.  That is what He does best – He gives to the point of denying Himself even the slightest bit of water to wet his whistle.  For the same living water Jesus gave to Ms. Samaritan, He gives to you. 

            Jesus asks for what we – and the woman –should be asking for.  “Give me a drink.”  Jesus wastes no time lecturing Ms. Samaritan on the long and bitter history of Jewish-Samaritan relations.  He knows exactly who she is, what she has or hasn’t done, even how many hairs are on her head.  He knows she is a lost and condemned sinner in need of rescue, just like the rest of us.  She is a faithless bride in need of a Husband more – in fact, infinitely more – faithful than she will ever be.  And we are no better off without Him.  When Jesus said, let the little children come to me; He wasn’t just talking about Sunday-school children.
            Jesus cuts straight to the point:  “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.”  This is Jesus’ not-so-subtle way of reminding us that we don’t even know what it is we need unless He tells us first. 
            If you knew the gift of God.  If you knew that, nothing else would really matter, for you would have Him who is the source of everything – body and soul eyes, ears, and all my members, my reason.  And even when senses fail, salaries drop, pink slips show up in the mail box, or terror and calamity throughout the world strikes despair in your heart - you could even be as poor as old Job and yet they have not won.  Jesus’ flesh restoring living waters remains.
            If you knew the gift of God you wouldn’t care what the world thought of your reputation or any of your past sins – 5 husbands or one; divorce or happily married; it wouldn’t matter what kind of sins the devil or your Old Adam would try and throw in your face, for you have acceptance, love and a pure conscience in the only perfect Bridegroom, Christ.  He has taken your sin and drown it all in His bloody baptism on the cross.
            If you knew the gift of God you would need no other gift of self-satisfaction – no gossip in the hallways between services, no prideful comparison between you and your “Samaritan” neighbors, no thirst quenched apart from devotion and study of God’s Word, no matter how busy life is.
            Repent.  Leave your sins with Jesus at Jacob’s well.  For He draws them all to Jerusalem on His back.  He is both the gift of God and the Giver of all God’s gifts.  And He pours out His living water upon you just as He did for that woman at the well.

            For One greater than Jacob is here.  That patriarch worked 14 long years to gain his lovely bride, Rachel.  But our Jacob worked harder, worked longer, worked His hands and feet to death to wed all of us who are so uglified and parched in sin.  He labored to gain Ms. Samaritan and you and all her ugly twin sisters, as His wife.  Our Jacob loves you, His bride, His Church and gave Himself up for you, that He might clothe you in royal, sacred beauty, cleansed and eternally satisfied through the spring of living water filled by His Word and Spirit.
            Greater love has no Husband than this; that Christ lay down His life for you, His bride; you who are holy and spotless in His sight, without blemish; clothed in crucified, baptized splendor.  You who drink from the well that He dug with His own hands; you who dine at his table and drink from His cup; you, to whom our Jacob has pledged His undying love and fidelity.  You are brought to a deeper well.
            Where you worship with angels and archangels and all the company of heaven…not in Jerusalem or Mt. Gerizim but at the pierced feet of the crucified and risen Lord – at the Lamb’s High feast, you sing, you eat, you drink – a table is prepared and the cup brims with blessing.  And blessed are you who hunger and thirst for righteousness, here you are and you will always be, satisfied.

           For what Ms. Samaritan told the townspeople was true: “Come, see a man who told all that I ever did.  Can this be the Christ?”  You mean, He can see everything?  Yes, everything.  But do not fear – this isn’t like some magical island where all dreams come true.  No, Jesus knew exactly who this woman Samaritan was.  Jesus talked to her, showed her where true living water is really poured out and then she led the others back to drink in those words:  “I am He who speak to you, the Messiah.” 
             Jesus knows exactly who you are – chequered past, false religion and all.  He takes it all to the cross to save, rescue, die and rise for you.  And now Jesus comes to sit and talk with you: “In the stead and by the command I forgive you all your sins.  Take; eat.  Take; drink.  I, Jesus, take you sinners to be my beloved bride, the Church.  To have and to hold from this day forward, for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish – not even death will part us; I pledge you My faithfulness.”

In the Name of the Father and of the T Son and of the Holy Spirit.  Amen.

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