Third Sunday in Lent, Year A

Living Water

In the wilderness, the children of Israel cried out to Moses for water:

The people quarreled with Moses, and said, “Give us water to drink.” Moses said to them, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the Lord?” But the people thirsted there for water; and the people complained against Moses and said, “Why did you bring us out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and livestock with thirst?” So Moses cried out to the Lord, “What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me.”   (Exodus 17:2-4)

Though God had performed spectacular signs and wonders the children of Israel still did not trust God for their provisions. God instructed Moses what he must do:

The Lord said to Moses, “Go on ahead of the people, and take some of the elders of Israel with you; take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. I will be standing there in front of you on the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it, so that the people may drink.” Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel.  (Exodus 17:5-6)

God provided water out of a rock in the wilderness. Now we want to focus on another rock that God has given to us for an even greater provision.

In today’s Gospel reading Jesus meets the Samaritan woman at the well:

A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” (His disciples had gone to the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?” (Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, “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.”   (John 4:7-10)

How quickly the tables are reversed. Jesus asks for water, but soon the Samaritan woman would be asking him for water:

The woman said to him, “Sir, you have no bucket, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us the well, and with his sons and his flocks drank from it?” Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I may never be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.”  (John 4:11-15)

Do we desire this living water? It is the Holy Spirit of God. Jesus is the one who gives the Spirit to us. As  Messiah, he has purchased the right to do so by enduring the cross:

On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.   (John 7:37-39)

Jesus has been glorified. He died for our sins and has risen from the dead, defeating sin, Hell, and the grave. He is able to pour out the Spirit upon us when we ask him. He told the Samaritan woman that, if she knew about the gift, and if she knew who Jesus was, then she would ask him for the gift.

What would stop the woman from receiving this gift? Notice that when Jesus confronts her about her lifestyle she quickly turns the conversation to religion:

The woman said to him, “Sir, I see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you say that the place where people must worship is in Jerusalem.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”   (John 4:19-24)

What would stop us from asking Jesus for this special gift? Church doctrine? Denominationalism? Only Jesus himself supplies this gift. Have we asked him? He is the rock that suppose our deepest needs. He made the gift so simple to understand that the woman at the well was transformed along with her community. Are we to complicate what God has provided for us by our religion?

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Filed under homily, Jesus, lectionary, Lent, liturgical preaching, liturgy, preaching, Revised Common Lectionary, sermon, Year A

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