Monday, March 24, 2014

Lent 3 Sermon: "Living Water"

+ Lent 3 – March 23rd, 2014 +
Redeemer Lutheran, HB
Series A: Exodus 17:1-7; Romans 5:1-8; John 4:5-26

Note: As I went looking for images to display with this sermon, I stumbled across a number of icons of Jesus and the Samaritan woman at Jacob's well. As you look at the iconography posted below here look for the common theme in shape and design of the various wells portrayed. It's no coincidence that they look like baptismal fonts, one even being cruciform in pattern. After all, the waters of the font are teeming and surging for us with the living water of Christ's eternal life poured out on the cross.

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

It was the middle of the day – the 6th hour by Jewish reckoning - yet she walked in darkness. She came for well water; but she found living water. She came to quench her thirst; she found the cleansing of her sin. She came to Jacob’s well; she found one who is greater than Jacob, Jesus, the source of living water.
Give me a drink.

Of course our Lord was thirsty. He was weary. It was high noon. But Jesus was interested in more than a cup of cool water from this Samaritan woman. He was there for her.
The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?”

John’s little parenthetical note reminds us that the Samaritans were outcasts and outsiders. Most Israelites saw them as heretics and half-breeds (Harry Potter fans, think mudbloods or muggles). But again, Jesus wasn’t most Israelites. Jesus talked with Samaritans…just as he shared a table with tax collectors and sinners. 

Jesus came for outcasts and outsiders – like that Samaritan woman…like you and me. Jesus comes for those whose hands and hearts dirty and filthy with sin. Not the righteous, but sinners.
For the Son of Man came to seek and save the lost.

Christ dwells with sinners. Christ came to find that Samaritan woman, and to take her sin upon himself, to take it all the way to Jerusalem, to the cross. Christ came for you too, to take your sin all the way to his death.

 “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.”

There are two kinds of water. Well water and living water. Well water takes work. Every day she came to the well. Every day she lowered the rope and hoisted up the water. Every day she carried the water on her head back to town. Work, work, work.

Not so with living water. Living water moves freely from its source to you. You do nothing, the water does everything. It’s pure gift. Faith is like living water - we, like the Samaritan woman, are at the receiving end. And living water always has a source – like Portland and Mt. Hood. Jesus is our Source of living water; the stream was opened at His death when water and blood flowed from His side to supply the Sacraments. And a fountain of forgiveness flows from Calvary to you in Baptism and the Supper. 

“Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob? You bet he is! But, like the Jews always claiming Abraham as father, Samaritan pride kicks in. He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.”

Jesus has something better than well water to give her, living water from a well that goes deeper than Jacob’s well.

Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again…
That’s how it goes with well water. It’s repetitive. She’d be back again tomorrow at the same well, same time, for the same water.

But whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.

Woah! Now that’s some high quality H2O. Never thirst again?! Sir give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water. No more buckets. No more balancing water jugs on the head. No more walking in the hot sun. But of course, that’s not what Jesus has in mind. He’s speaking about heavenly things, eternal things.

So Jesus moves the conversation a little closer to home.

“Go, call your husband, and come here.” Problem is, she has no husband.
“You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.”

Jesus’ word of Law does its work. She dodges Jesus’ words and tries to change the subject. Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet

We’re no different. The Law exposes, convicts, and kills and we try to avoid, pass blame, and run for our life.

But where you and I see a meaningless question about where to worship - in Samaria or Jerusalem – Jesus directs the conversation back to who he is and what he’s doing in Jerusalem.

The hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.
This is what sinners do: we worship in ignorance. Our hearts are idol factories. And no amount of well water or work is going to keep us alive. Salvation is not in our hands and neither was it in the Samaritans’ hands. Salvation is from the Jews, says Jesus. So, what does that mean?

 “The hour is coming and now is. Now is. Now in her hearing. Now also in yours. Now with Jesus standing there in front of her. The time now is when true worshippers, including you, will worship the Father in Spirit and Truth.” 

Jesus isn’t speaking of some kind of abstract new-agey spiritual gibberish. Spirit and Truth should be capitalized. Jesus is talking about the Trinity. True worshippers of the Father worship the Father in the Holy Spirit and in the Truth, namely Jesus the Son: the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through the Son. No one comes to the Son except by the Holy Spirit. 

Jesus has been leading the Samaritan woman – and us– upstream to this final word.

 “I know that Messiah is coming.” Jesus said to her, “I AM, the one who is speaking.”

Behold, someone greater than Jacob is here. Jesus uses God’s divine Name: I AM…YHWH. Jesus is saying that He is the God of Abraham in human flesh. And He is to be worshipped in Spirit and Truth.
And for the Samaritan woman that’s really the beginning of the story. She leaves her water jug and runs home telling her friends and neighbors about this guy “who told me everything I ever did and might actually be the Messiah.” And the whole town went to meet Jesus and believed Him too, all because of this sassy Samaritan with a messed up life who met Jesus at Jacob’s well one day at high noon and started talking about living water.

But of course this story isn’t just about a Samaritan woman. Jesus is your living water too.

“Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did.” 

He really knows everything we’ve done? Everything? Yes. Every sin. Every commandment broken. Every spot, blemish, and wrinkle. Admittedly this is terrifying…until you find out that Jesus loves you like he loved the Samaritan woman. For though he knew her sins, every one of them, and though he knows our sins – everything we’ve ever done or failed to do – he loves us anyway. Each one of those sins – the Samaritan woman’s and yours and mine – are paid for on the cross.

Jesus dives head first into the cesspool of our sin and soaks up all our lies, false witness, stealing, lusting, coveting, gossiping, hate, and lovelessness and drowns it all in living waters of Holy Baptism. All because Jesus barged into the sludge of guilt, sin, and death that we’ve dammed up in order to break us free from death and release the living waters of eternal life upon us
Remember that it was at the 6th hour that Jesus hung on the cross for you, enduring the scorching heat of God’s wrath for our sin. And now, at this hour Jesus floods us with forgiveness, a deluge of divine goodness and mercy. Jesus comes today, just as he did for that Samaritan woman, and sits beside us, here at this well, in His word, at His altar with His living water.  

No more well water for you. Jesus has something better: a refreshing stream of life and Spirit from Him to you. Living, Holy Spirit-ed water bringing you the new birth from above, making you a new creation, joining you to Jesus’ death and life. This isn’t water you work for, it’s water that works for you, a washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit.

Jesus’ living water flows downstream from the cross to you. 

This is why Jesus comes to you as he did the Samaritan woman, to save sinners. Sinners with messed up lives that are beyond cleaning up. Lives like that Samaritan woman who was probably reminded of her messed up life every day on the walk to Jacob’s well, where the men stared at her and the women gossiped behind her back. 

That is, until she meets a Jewish rabbi who dares to ask her for a drink and offers her living water of eternal life, free of charge. For the Son of Man did not come into the world to condemn the world but in order that the world, that this Samaritan woman, that you and me, would be saved through Him.
 “While we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person – though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die – but god shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for you. 

Are you thirsty? Then come and drink. There is a spring of living water flowing from Jesus’ cross to you. Do you wish to worship God in Spirit and Truth? Then you have come to the right place. For where Baptism, Body, Blood and Word are, there Jesus is, and the Spirit, and the Father, and there His true worshipers are.

“Blessed are you who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for you shall be satisfied.

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

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