Monday, March 24, 2014

Third Sunday in Lent (A) 2014

+ In nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti Amen +

Text: John 4:14
Theme: Thirst Quenching

Dear friends in Christ Jesus,

The deck was stacked. All social customs militated against this encounter between Jesus and the Samaritan woman. He was a Jewish man. Jews generally looked down on Samaritans as half-casts. Samaritans had no love for the Jewish people either. She came to the well alone without the other women by whom she had likely been ostracized. It was not typical to draw the water in the heat of the day. Yet, Jesus asks her for a drink and then begins a conversation that would change her life. Through her witness God would change the lives of others too.

The dialogue between Jesus and the Samaritan woman pivots around the theme of water. Water is necessary to quench one’s thirst. It is necessary for life. The spiritual connection is easily made. Our souls hunger and thirst for many things. The devil knows this and therefore he works all kinds of false satiations. That is, he convinces people they are being satisfied by all kinds of fare that is really not nourishing. Many times it is poisonous. We indulge in harmful and self-destructive behaviors. We compromise the well-being of others. We drink up the latest fads and crazes. We bend to peer-pressure and political-correctness. We pat ourselves on the back for our accomplishments while trampling on others along the way. We are appeased by full bank accounts and full houses. We are placated by high social standing or praise for our achievements. But is our thirst really quenched?

The law of God confronts us about our deepest motivations. What drives us? What are we doing in life and why are we doing it? Who are we serving and who do we submit to? Who do we fear? Who do we honour? Who do we respect? Where are our hopes placed? Who is the source? Who is the centre? Who holds the future? With surgical precision the law is a knife that cuts through the veneer of our idolatry. The Spirit issues the clear Lenten decree, “Return to the Lord your God.”1 Repent!

Christ understood the thirst of this woman. He knew that for which she had become parched again, and again, and again; concretely, in her case six times. She had had five husbands and the current man was not her husband. He knew she had been entangled in a life of open sin. He also knew she needed forgiveness and compassion. He knew she would be confronted again and again by the same temptations.

Dear friends, it is impossible for us not to sin. Our natural propensities continually overwhelm our thinking, our speaking, and our doing. Few people doubt they are sinners. Even social modesty curbs those who would question. But few believe they are damnable sinners. We read the evidence in a different way. Our intentions are mostly good, and when they’re not we at least claim they’re not evil. God’s law strikes down our flimsy defence in one fell swoop. He tolerates no transgressions and lets us substitute no good intentions.

Even the recognition of temptation is already sin. What does the Scripture say, “When tempted no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin.”2 Therefore, our faith is not only born in repentance, but it exists in that dynamic until our dying breath. We’re never not “poor, helpless sinners.” 3

Yet, in the Holy Spirit’s strength, we can resist, we can struggle, we can turn away from harmful, hateful, and hurtful behavior. The Holy Spirit does not desert us in the hour of temptation. Jesus said, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”4 Only His truth calms our deepest fears and meets our deepest needs. The cross alone can quench our thirsting- the sacrifice of Christ was sufficient, it was enough. Our search is over. This Samaritan woman was seeking what we all seek. She was looking for unconditional love. She was looking for worth and value at the deepest level. She was looking to be affirmed and cherished. The well was deep. It was filled with living water. And in the depth of that living water a woman trapped in the sallowness of sin found her identity.

Faith cannot be suppressed. It is always active. The woman left her water jar and rushed into town in her excitement. The leaving of the jar seems to be a small detail but the implication is significant. She had come to the well for the express purpose of securing water. But now, having met the Water of Life, such concerns were no longer urgent. The encounter with Christ had immediate consequences. Her first priority was to share the news.

The spiritual well-being of people is our priority. The souls of many are dying of thirst. We can offer them the life-giving water. We can sacrifice our self-interests publically and privately because we know the future is not in doubt. Our confession never remains secretive.
History knows of no privatized Christianity. Our identity in Christ colours everything we do. It influences every decision we make. It focuses every goal we pursue.

Apparently Jacob’s well was very reliable. By the time Jesus stopped for a drink it was already an ancient source of water. The well of God’s grace is unfailing too. Your baptism is an inexhaustible source of cleansing water. It’s not a magical well. It’s sourced directly from Him who is the life-giving water. It flows from the threshold of the temple5, from the treasury of the Spirit, from the heart of the Father, from His wounds on the cross6. It quenches the severest spiritual thirst. It satisfies our deepest cravings.

Dear friends, Jesus Christ is the living water in our midst. There is the well- the baptismal font. There is the well- the altar offering the body and blood of the Saviour. There is the well- the Book through which the Spirit speaks the words of life. All bring us into contact with the One who knows our every sin and yet still sacrificed His very life for us. The Lamb who thirsted on the cross also rose triumphantly from the grave. Death could not parch Him. He lives for us and with us for all eternity. Amen.

+ In nomine Jesu +

1 Joel 2:13
2 James 1:13-15
3LH, p6
4 John 4:13
5 See Ezekiel 47:1
6 See John 19:34
17See John 19:39

Third Sunday in Lent
23 March 2014
Reverend Darrin L. Kohrt