Third Sunday in Lent
3-12-23 series A
Third Sunday in Lent
Text: John 4:5-26
Title: Gracious Love
As I was reading the Gospel lesson for this Sunday earlier this week, I was reminded of a newspaper article that I read some time ago. I believe it was in the San Antonio Express and News. If I remember correctly, the article was titled: "In Times of Stress, Just Call on Rover". It went something like this: When it comes to times of stress, the most reassuring companion isn't your sweetheart, husband or wife, it's your dog.
When the reporter asked the research scientist, I do not remember her name, the reason behind that statement she replied, "I think it is because dogs do not evaluate us, they just love us as we are".
They do not evaluate, only love. That must have been the reason I thought of the article when I was reading John’s account of Jesus and the woman at the well. For you see that is the way Jesus is, accepting and loving. He just accepted her as she was, even though she was a Samaritan and in a sense an enemy to his people. He spoke to her of God even though she was a woman and not thought worthy of such conversation. And in the end, even though she questioned his statements, he offered her a wonderful blessing by telling her that he was the Messiah.
All he asks her to do is to acknowledge her past life and then believe his words concerning how the time is coming when true worshippers will worship the Father in Spirit and in Truth. Jesus in reaching out to her where she was, gave her what she needed, just as he gives all who accept him, the good news of life, hope, and the assurance of salvation.
He talks to her and she rushes off to tell others of this man. I do not believe it was just because he knew of her past. I do not believe it was just because he could tell her things that no stranger should know, that she spoke of him to her friends and neighbors. I do not even believe that it was just because he said he was the Messiah, as important as that is, for he had told many others that, and they did not accept him.
No, I think the reason she rushed off was because he showed his acceptance of her, right where she was in her life, even with her marriage problems and her present living arrangements. Jesus showed her that he loved her. He did not condemn her, he treated her as a person worthy of respect, worthy of affection, worthy of love, and worthy of salvation. That is why I love this particular story, for in it you see Jesus accepting and embracing those whom many times we find less than worthy of our love. That is where he is at, and I say thank you Lord! I thank you dear Jesus for accepting me just as I am, as unlovable and as unworthy as I am. I Thank you for giving me the living water of your salvation.
I'm not much of gardener, but one thing I do know is that every plant needs two things to grow, even when it planted the best soil. It must have light and water. It needs light to make it grow and it needs water to survive, so it can grow.
I read an article Friday on an experiment in growing plants in space. In this one experiment half of the plants had light and half did not. Those with the light, had a nice green color, and were growing tall and straight, as they were attracted by the light. Those plants without the light, were dying and what little growth there was, was in all directions. There was nothing to keep them healthy, even though they had plenty of water. There was simply no light that could give direction to their lives.
That is how our lives would be without the light of Christ, for without his light, we would become spiritually anemic. Without Jesus’ light guiding our lives we would be just like those plants that went off in all directions searching for light, but never finding it.
Another thing about plants is that you can put them in the brightest light, but if they are in dry soil, they really struggle to survive, and the dryer the soil gets the more they begin to wither. Those plants, whose leaves are starting to curl or droop, need water, and lots of it fast, so that they can survive, and thrive.
It would not help them to give them more sunlight, they need water. They need water so that their roots can soak up the life-giving water. After a dry plant has had a good soaking of water they change. Some plants will change in front of your eyes, others will just begin to look better, but they all will begin to grow and in time if they are the proper kind of plant will produce the fruit that they have been designed to produce. All plants need light and water to thrive, and spiritually we are no different.
Just like that woman at the well needed to see the light of Jesus, so that she could receive living water. So just as Jesus is the Light to the world, We need his living water for some of us might be awfully dry right now, while others of us are probably well watered. But each one of us, whether we are dry or moist at this very moment, needs the living water that Jesus says he has come to give, that water which wells up to eternal life, that water which never stops flowing into our lives as it continues to bring life to us.
I give thanks to God today, for his love shown by Christ, that love which is poured out on me whenever I am withering and in danger of not producing good fruit.
I give thanks to God today, for his love which gives me hope in those times that I feel hopeless.
I give thanks to God today, for his love that gives me peace, in those times I can not find peace.
I give thanks to God today, for his love has given me assurance of forgiveness, when I was feel like I cannot be forgiven.
In giving thanks to God before you today I am doing what the woman at the well did after encountering Jesus. I am pointing to the one who is the Messiah, the one promised from long ago. I am pointing to the one who has accepted me as I am, the one who calls me a brother and does not hold my human failings against me, the one who encourages me when I need encouragement and challenges me when I need challenging. I am pointing to the one that never, even when I argue with him, or push him aside, rejects or condemns me.
In closing I would like to say a little more about the living water that Jesus was talking about giving to the woman in our text. I think that most of us, if not all, would agree that the living water that Jesus is talking about is a metaphor for Jesus life, death, and resurrection, for without him we cannot have eternal life.
I want to throw out for your consideration something that you might never have thought about, another way of thinking of the living water Jesus is talking about. To help make my point, I am going to use the Greek text, of verse 14, “Indeed, the water I give, whoever I give it to, it will become in that person a spring of water welling up to eternal life."
Not too much different, but enough to suggest that we are to be extensions of Jesus’ living water. We are not to be just containers that hold his water, for water that is still and not kept flowing soon becomes stagnate and finally worthless. We are to be containers that are overflowing with Christ’s living water. Which brings up an interesting question; could it be that the way we receive living water is by giving it away? I think so.
Will you join me in sharing the living water of Jesus Christ with those in our community, and world, so that they too can be filled to overflowing with the living water of Jesus Christ? I hope so, for you see, Jesus is the only living water that can save a person from God’s just wrath. Amen
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Rev. Dennis Rhoads
Vacancy pastor. LCMS