Cruce Tectum

Cruce tectum, hidden under the cross, a blog for Epiphany Lutheran Church, Dorr, Michigan

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Location: Moscow, Idaho

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Third Sunday in Lent

Third Sunday in Lent (A) March 27, 2011 Text: John 4:5-30, 39-42 It is not an accident that Jesus is sitting at this particular well, Jacob’s well, on this particular day at this particular hour, the sixth hour. It is not an accident that Jesus meets this particular woman in this particular time and place. This is divinely appointed. It is not by accident that Jesus sends His disciples away to buy food. It is not by accident that we meet Him all alone with the Samaritan woman. It is not an accident, because Jesus knows precisely what this woman needs. She has come to draw water. Jesus knows that she needs living water. Jesus is the living water. Jesus knows that this woman needs Him, and very soon, she will know it, too. Because Jesus will expose her thirst and give her the living water that alone can quench her thirst for righteousness. Jesus will give Himself to her as “a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:14; ESV), even as He gives Himself for her, for the forgiveness of her sins. The situation is tenuous from the beginning. Jesus really shouldn’t be talking to this woman at all, at least not according to the standards of the day. The difficulty is three-fold: First, no respectable Jewish man would ever speak to a woman alone to whom he was not related. Second, this woman has a reputation. She is a notorious sinner. No respectable Jewish man would ever be seen keeping company with a disreputable woman, lest his own reputation be tarnished. Third, this woman is a Samaritan. No respectable Jewish man would associate himself with Samaritans, the half-breeds, the remnants of the ten Northern Tribes of Israel who worshiped in all the wrong places instead of Jerusalem, and who intermarried with the pagans after the Assyrian captivity. But Jesus has come to seek and to save that which is lost (Luke 19:10). Jesus comes for men and women alike. Jesus comes for sinners. It is not the healthy who need a physician, but the sick (Luke 5:31). Jesus has come to heal those sick with sin by calling them to repentance (v. 32) and giving them the medicine of living water. And Jesus has no room for racial barriers. He has come from the Jews, “for salvation is from the Jews” (John 4:22), but He has come for Jew and Gentile alike. In fact, in Christ “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28). It is not an accident that Jesus commits this social faux pas. For this Jesus was sent by the Father. For this Jesus came, willingly, the Son of God in the flesh, to be one with sinners. Jesus has come to impart living water to sinners. Jesus promises that everyone who drinks of the water He gives “will never be thirsty forever” (John 4:14). The woman thinks it might be nice not to have to draw water from the well anymore. She wants Jesus to give her this magical water. But of course, she has it all wrong. Jesus is speaking of a greater water than that which is in the well. And the woman has a greater need than physical thirst. Whether she realizes it or not, she thirsts for righteousness. She knows an emptiness within herself that can only be filled with the living water Jesus gives. She has tried to quench her thirst with everything else. She has filled her life with men, thinking that they can slake her desire. But she goes on thirsting. Jesus points out her obvious need. She has had five husbands. Now she lives with a man outside of marriage. She knows this is sin. Jesus does not have to point it out to her. She is a social outcast. She is an adulteress. Notice she is alone at the well. She must come at a time when the other women are not at the well to draw water. Because she wears the proverbial scarlet letter around her neck. The other women shoot her dirty looks and talk about her indiscretions behind her back. Jesus does not talk behind her back. He confronts her directly with her sin. Why does He do this? To make her feel bad about herself? Out of meanness? No. He does this that she might know her great need and desire that cure that Jesus here offers, that Jesus alone can give. From the preaching of the Law, she perceives that Jesus is a prophet, but she has not yet come to faith. Jesus fills that need by proclaiming the Gospel to her. “The woman said to him, ‘I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.’ Jesus said to her, ‘I who speak to you am he’” (vv. 25-26). You can’t see this as well in the English translation, but this is an “I AM” statement. Jesus is pointing to Himself and saying, “I AM, YHWH, right here, in the flesh!” “Dear woman, I am the Messiah. I AM, YHWH, is speaking to you in the flesh right here and now. I have come to save you from your sins.” This, beloved, is the decisive point. If Jesus is the Messiah, there is no need for any other helper. There is no possibility that anyone or anything else can help. The only cure for sins is Jesus. The Gospel is that Jesus has come to save His people from their sins. The Gospel is that Jesus has come to save this poor sinful woman. The Gospel is that Jesus has come to save you, to give you living water, to give you Himself, even as He has given Himself for you. Believe it and it is yours. For faith is the true divine worship. What does it mean that “the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth” (v. 23)? It means that whether you’re a Jew worshiping in Jerusalem, or a Samaritan worshiping on Mt. Gerizim, or an American worshiping in Dorr, Michigan, you worship by faith in your Lord Jesus Christ, the faith the Spirit Himself has given you and preserves in you, by receiving the gifts of Christ in His Word and Sacraments, and believing the truth of His Word. That’s what it means to worship in spirit and in truth. It means to believe, to trust, to receive, to live by faith. That faith flows to you in the living water that is Jesus Christ. Beloved in the Lord, it is not by accident that Jesus is in this particular place, on this particular day, in this particular hour, to meet you here. He is here really and substantially, as God and man, here in the flesh. This is divinely appointed. It is not an accident that Jesus is here, because Jesus knows precisely what you need. You need living water. You need Jesus. And you know it, too. Because you also know your sins. They weigh you down. They drown you in death. They drag you to hell. Your thirst has been exposed. You thirst for righteousness. Only Jesus can give you the living water that is able to quench your thirst. You have tried to quench this thirst with anything and everything else. Perhaps like the woman you have tried to quench it with the pleasures of the flesh. Perhaps you have sought relief in substance abuse. Perhaps the false promises of earthly wealth and possessions have claimed your trust. In any case, you have believed that living for yourself is the answer, that which can fill the emptiness you know all too well inside of you. But none of it has worked. It has left you as empty as you were before. The preaching of God’s Law exposes your great need. And the Gospel delivers the cure that is Jesus Christ, the living water. Whoever drinks this water will never be thirsty forever. For in drinking deeply of Jesus by faith, you now possess His perfect righteousness. It is not by your own works that you become righteous before God. You have no righteousness of your own, only sin. You become righteous before God because He credits Jesus’ righteousness to your account. He covers you with Jesus’ righteousness. By faith in Christ you are pronounced righteous, justified. “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:1). Jesus is the living water. He is the rock in our Old Testament lesson (Exodus 17:1-7), the rock that Moses struck with his staff, and water poured out of it for the thirsting people. St. Paul says that “all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ” (1 Cor. 10:4). Indeed, when the centurion struck the crucified Savior’s side with the spear, there flowed forth from His sacred body water and blood. The water fills the font. The blood fills the chalice. The Church is born and lives from this saving flood. From the riven side of Christ the new Adam, the Church, the Bride of Christ, the new Eve, is born and nourished. She worships in spirit and in truth. She lives by faith. She lives by every word that comes from the mouth of God. You are the Church beloved. You are sinners who have drunk deeply of the living water that is Jesus Christ. You are the Samaritan woman, the unclean sinner, to whom Jesus comes, and it is no accident. Jesus comes to you, to make you clean. Jesus comes for you, to save you from your sins. It is divinely appointed. Jesus loves you. Jesus comes to give you eternal life. “For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly… God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:6, 8). It is no accident. This living water is for you. Come and drink deeply, and thirst no more. In the Name of the Father, and of the Son (+), and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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