Sunday, March 19, 2017

Third Sunday In Lent (A) 2017

+ In nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti + Amen.

Text: John 4:9
Theme: Surprised At The Well

Dear friends in Christ Jesus,

Jesus wasn’t interested in customs; only truth. The Samaritan woman today was undoubtedly surprised Jesus approached her at the well. It was not customary for Jewish men to speak publicly to Samaritans generally, or women in particular. Amazed that He asked her for a drink, Jesus said, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked Him and He would have given you living water.”1 Then ensues an extended conversation which ends two days later with the towns’ people saying, “Now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Saviour of the world.”2

Matthew, Mark, and Luke are typically succinct when they relate the events of Jesus’ ministry. The notable exception is the record of the passion. Jesus’ last days are covered in significant detail. Saint John, however, offers us extended coverage of particular encounters Jesus had with individuals. He tends to develop a more comprehensive account, supplying more specifics. It assists us in thinking through the way in which God’s word transforms people. The Holy Spirit is patient, meeting people where they are, and moving them to where they need to be.

Dear friends, Christianity is not an ideology or a casual perspective that’s adopted at a point in time. It is a lifelong journey; a struggle with sin, with truth, with forgiveness. It’s a struggle against our sinful natures, the world, and Satan’s schemes. The domestication of our selfishness is the lifelong pursuit of the sinful nature. We deeply desire to be self-serving and to find justification to pursue such ends. The strength of this desire is exhibited in many ways. We become greedy at the expense of helping our neighbour. We put others at risk while minimising the risk to ourselves. We seek praise and recognition from others while sparingly giving credit and support to them as we should. Worst of all, we like to be recognised for the moral high ground when really we should be chastised for our deceptive and false humility.

Notice that Jesus doesn’t shrink from exposing this woman’s sin. She was an adulterer. Her desires remained unfulfilled so her relationships kept failing. She did not yet know that perfect, unfailing, unconditional love could be found only in one place, one Person. So, Jesus shot a pointy arrow right into her heart. It was the Holy Spirit’s arrow of conviction. But Jesus doesn’t harangue her (as He often did the scribes and Pharisees) because her soul was transparent to Him. He could see her conscience and the true remorse and change of heart. The recalcitrant soul must keep hearing God’s word of rebuke. The self-righteous are not interested in forgiveness. But her heart was softened by His love.

To receive the goodness God offers is the highest act of faith. Faith receives what God bestows. And what does God bestow? His primary gift is Himself. In the granting of His grace, mercy, and forgiveness, God communicates Himself. Above all, He wants us to have the righteousness that covers all sins. He wants us to have the peace that puts our hearts and mind at rest even when we are under the greatest distress. The prophet says, “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Trust in the LORD forever, for the LORD GOD is an everlasting rock.”3

God wants us to ask. The woman asked for living water. “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”4 The greatest honour we can tender to God is to receive what He offers. The greatest reverence we can show Him is to yield to the lavish distribution of His grace. The Scripture says, “Be still, and know that I am God.”5 Again, “Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. Go near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools, who do not know that they do wrong.”6 And once more, “The Lord is in His holy temple; let all the earth be silent before Him.”7

His goodness also extends to every facet of our daily lives. But often we do not recognize His blessings for what they are, even considering them to be burdens. Your employment is a blessing through which God provides for you and others. Yet many only complain. Your spouse is a gift through which God gives you companionship, comfort, and support. Yet many are often harsh, unreasonable, and unforgiving with their husband and wife. We do well to remember that marriage is a reflection of the union between Christ and His bride the church. The Scripture says, “However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.”8 When we fight against the good things God desires to give us we are like unruly animals that kick against the goads. Even our most painful trials can turn out to be great blessings.

Remember, Satan is a thief. The object of his thievery is always faith. His aim is to rob you of your trust in God and belief in Christ. Sometimes his plan of attack is quite direct. He opposes the foundational claim of God's existence. He directs us to the supposed omnipotence of humanity or the soulless material forces of the universe, that is, blind trust in science. More frequently, though, his strategy must be more indirect and subtle. He attacks our faith by opposing its premises. The Bible claims that God is good, and kind, and loving. Yet we experience pain, and evil, and hardship. Satan argues that these realities cannot be reconciled. Therefore, God must be inept or inattentive and unworthy of our trust. Satan is happy for us to have faith in a god who rewards people for their righteousness. He can work within that system. He supports idolatry.

Dear friends, God’s house is like Jacob’s well where Jesus comes to meet us. You come to this altar to participate in the mystery. The sacred body of the holy Lord. The hallowed blood of the righteous Saviour. These mysteries are offered to us, sinners, undeserving, unholy. And this is just how God would have it. We receive His righteousness in exchange for the guilt of our sins. We receive His life in exchange for our death. We are His baptized not because we are deserving, but because Christ is worthy.

The Samaritan woman went to Jacob’s well for one reason: To draw water. Yet she departed leaving her jar. She wouldn’t have to return to the “man well” anymore either, because she found a true relationship in her Saviour. Last week we spoke of shining like stars in a dark universe. You might be thinking, “That sounds wonderful, but how do I actually do it?” The Samaritan woman provides a fine example. She spreads the news to people she knows. Have you considered who you might invite to worship or some other function at the church? Have you considered during this Lententide how greatly God has blessed you with time, talents, and treasures and how these can serve His kingdom?

This Samaritan woman came to the well to draw water, but what she recovered was her virginity. True Life had found her. When Christ takes your sins, He doesn’t give them back. His absolution means your condemnation for those sins has been completely wiped out. His forgiveness is the living water that quenches our thirst. Amen.

+ In nomine Jesu +

Third Sunday in Lent
19 March, 2017
Reverend Darrin L. Kohrt

1 John 4:10
2 John 5:42
3 Isaiah 26:3-4
4 Matthew 7:7
5 Psalm 46:10
6 Ecclesiastes 5:1
7 Habakkuk 2:20
8 Ephesians 5:33