Saturday, September 16, 2017

LWML Zone Rally "Live By His Design"

John 4:1-30; Romans 6:1-11; Psalm 36

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.
It was about the sixth hour, that is, noon, the very hottest hour of the day. No one comes to the well at noon, but the women go to the well to draw water in the morning and in the evening when it is cool. And yet, Jesus comes to the well at noon. Jesus comes tired and thirsty from His journeys, desiring a drink of water at the hottest, the most desolate time of the day. Yes, Jesus comes in real need, in real need of assistance from others, in real need of refreshment and relief. Jesus comes vulnerable and weak, seeking mercy from someone else.
Now, I’ll bet that’s not how you typically think of your Lord Jesus, but you should. For, Jesus is God incarnate, as a human man. That is what it means that He is Emmanuel, God with us. God came to us as a lowly, helpless infant. God came to us as the humble son of a carpenter. God came to us as an itinerant rabbi having no place to lay His head. And, God came to us as Isaac, the son of promise, in the offering of His own Son unto death that He might be for us the sacrificial Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
Our God comes to us, as one of us, to lift us up out of the lowly and mean status of our lives and make us His own children, sons and daughters of God. Our God comes to us, as one of us, to turn us back to Him by making us to see the futility and hopelessness of the way of death that we have been following, that we may walk upon His way, the way of forgiveness, eternal life, and salvation.
No one should have been at the well at noon, and anyone who would go to the well at noon would surely be in a desperate state. Such was Jesus’ state, and such was the state of the Samaritan woman whom He met there. The Samaritan woman was desperate for a good number of reasons. First most, she was coming to the well at noon in order to avoid her womanly peers, for she was a known adulteress and a disgrace among her people. Second, it was scandalous for a man and a woman to be alone, or even to speak, if they were not married. And, third, Samaritans and Jews did not interact. Jews considered Samaritans to be unclean, and they would be defiled if they were to have contact with a Samaritan and thus unable to participate in the worship life of the temple. As it was, both Jesus and the Samaritan woman were social outcasts, isolated, alone, and in need. Jesus needed water and refreshment at the mercy of another, and the woman needed her dignity and her honor restored to her at the mercy of Jesus. This is precisely what God has done for all of us in Jesus Christ, He has visited us in our lowliness and need and has restored us to dignity, honor, holiness, and life with Him.
Utilizing His own vulnerability and need for refreshment, Jesus gave the debased woman an opportunity to be of service and of value, and therefore, to have dignity. Now, human reason and flesh locate value and dignity in power, wealth, influence, and possessions, but true value and dignity are located in the spiritual gifts and acts of love, mercy, and compassion, with which we both serve and are served. Therefore, in answer to the woman’s protests concerning His being a man and a Jew, and her being a Samaritan woman, Jesus answered her saying, “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.” Jesus restored the woman’s dignity by humbling Himself to address her and accept service from her even though she was a Samaritan woman.
However, this woman was deeply wounded and debased. She had heard and had been taught the things that debased her so that she believed them herself and was in bondage to them. Thus, defending herself, she began to recite the reasons that Jews did not associate with Samaritans. However, Jesus would not be drawn into her pontificating and sophistry, but He answered her saying, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
Then He had her, not because she understood His meaning, but because she desired relief from her debasement and the restoration of her dignity that such an ever-flowing spring of living water could provide. She wouldn’t have to go to that accursed well at noontime in the heat of the day anymore! Therefore, Jesus changed the subject. “Go, call your husband, and come here.” It was not sufficient that the woman would be restored to dignity and honor for herself, but she must become a spring of ever-flowing water for others as well. Not only was it improper for a woman to speak to a man who was not her husband, but it was even considered disrespectful for a wife to address her husband unless first spoken to by him. Thus, once again, Jesus restored the woman her dignity and her honor, even giving her the authority to speak a good word to her husband and other men as He would do following His resurrection with the women at His empty tomb.
However, whereas Jesus had restored her dignity and honor concerning being a woman and a Samaritan, now she had her own sins and guilt to deal with. She confessed that she had no husband, and that was the truth, however, it was not the whole truth. But, Jesus is the Truth in human flesh, and He knows the truth: “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.” At this revelation, she was now able to see that Jesus was a prophet and that He knew all things. Nonetheless, once again she attempted to defend herself, this time by theologizing concerning the conflicting locations of worship recognized by Jews and Samaritans. And, once again, Jesus would not bite, but He said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father […] But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship Him. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” At this the woman began to consider that Jesus just may be the promised Messiah saying, “I know that Messiah is coming (He who is called Christ). When He comes, He will tell us all things. Then, Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am He.” Thus, Jesus had restored her as a woman, as a Samaritan, as a human being, and as a child of God. Moreover, He had made this outcast and pariah to be an ever-flowing spring of living water for others; for those He forgives, renews, and restores, He also sends as light, leaven, and salt for the life of the world.
At that moment, Jesus’ disciples returned. This made the woman uncomfortable, for they did not ask the customary questions when a man and woman who were not married were caught speaking to each other alone. Therefore she left her water jar and went into the town and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” The woman who formerly could not associate with anyone, who had to draw water alone, at noon, in the heat of the day, who had no husband but was a known adulteress, who was despised by the Jews as an unclean Samaritan – this woman was made to be an ever-flowing spring of living water. Her dignity and honor were restored to her as she reclaimed her purpose of serving others to the glory of God in Christ Jesus.
The Samaritan woman came to the well in the heat of the day to draw water. However, after her encounter with Jesus, she left her bucket behind and returned to the village without water. She came to draw the water that could quench thirst for an hour or two. She returned to the village without that water, but, instead, she carried a witness to the water that quenches the thirst of the spirit forever. This is a most fitting Gospel for this gathering of the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League, particularly with your rally theme “Live By His Design,” for Jesus restored the Samaritan woman to life, and He made her to be an ever-flowing spring of living water to give life to others to the glory of God. Irenaeus of Antioch once said, “The glory of God is a man fully alive.” That is what Jesus did for the Samaritan woman; He restored her and made her fully alive. That is what Jesus has done for you and for me; He has restored you and made you fully alive that you may go and bring glory to God by being fully alive with His love, grace, mercy, and forgiveness, and let that life flow from you as ever-living water to the glory of His Name.

In the + Name of Jesus. Amen.

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