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Archive for March 28th, 2011

Grace, mercy and peace from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!  The text for the Sermon is John 4:1-42.

Jeremiah 14: 8-9

O you hope of Israel,
its savior in time of trouble,
why should you be like a stranger in the land,
like a traveler who turns aside to tarry for a night?

He came as a stranger to Israel and to the world.  Nicodemus came to Jesus in the night as Jesus was a stranger.   He came unknown and thirsty at noon at Jacob’s well in Samaria. The Lord Who created heaven and earth was a foreigner in His own special creation and redemption, Israel.   He was then a stranger in Samaritan land as well. The Lord came to His own but His own received Him not.   But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God,13who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. Those who received Him were themselves thirsting and hungering.

It is clear in the conversation that Jesus is speaking not of physical thirst and hunger but spiritual thirst and hunger, as he goes deeper into the well of salvation, His well, the Savior’s Well.  Dying of thirst and hunger is bad enough and as the Church we must serve those in need.  But even in a land of plenty, empty hearts are as bad, even more so, than empty stomachs.  A craving that can not be satisfied can eat up lives and drink to the dregs the cup of wrath.

“Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again…”

On the Travel Network is a show by New York chef, Anthony Bourdain, entitled “No Reservations”.  He travels around the world with a main purpose being of eating and thereby introducing the particular nation and its cultures.  His show’s intro by Mr. Bourdain:

“I’m Anthony Bourdain. I write.  I travel. I eat.  And I’m hungry for more.” For what its worth I like Mr. Bourdain.  In traveling and writing and eating, he hungers for more.  Never filled. Starving to death and dying of thirst is very clear to see but spiritual thirst and hunger is not so clearly seen. In fact, it looks good:  it looks like what we see on TV and on the net.  But note: More is never enough.  The hunger is not stilled and the thirst for life is not quenched.  It’s like the fine rock theologian sang, I can’t get no satisfaction and I’ve tried and I’ve tried. “More” is never enough. Jesus is not only speaking with the Samaritan woman at the well, or about Mr. Bourdain but you and I.  One of Luther’s opponents, Erasmus of Rotterdam said correctly:  The heart is such a spacious thing that even 600 worlds can not fill it.  We live in a “consumer culture” in which obsolescence is planned so that the items we buy will wear out quickly so we can buy a new product.  But our fellow humans know themselves and us quite well:  we actually want more and more, so yeah, let it wear out, I want something new.  We live in a “consumer society”.  Even people are consumables in our sexual lusts and “conquests”.  Even people are consumables, stepping stones for our ambitions for ‘life’. We wear out people.  The Samaritan woman had 5 husbands and her current man was not her husband.  The Samaritan woman had quite a thirst!  Note that in the conversation there is not a hint of condemnation from Jesus.  Jesus does not condemn her because He came not to condemn the world but that the world be saved through Him (John 3:17). The world is already condemned in its sin.

“(Jesus) says that visible water can quench one’s thirst for a little while, but the unseen water cures one of thirst altogether because there is not longer for a thirst for life when immortality is gushing forth on you.” (Apollarinarius of Laodicea, page 153, Ancient Christian Commentary on Scriptures (ACCS), NT IVa)

We think a thirst for life is a virtue. It is not.  The Lord knew thirst and hunger in his stomach and was tempted to use His Deity to fill it with the power and the authority as the Creator.  He did not.  He fed on God’s Word, His food.  “(Jesus) was not thirsty for the water of this world but of the redemption of the human race.”  He came to reveal the woman’s thirst and so forgive.  He will say later that the water welling up is the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit witnesses and teaches Jesus Christ into our empty thirsting hearts.  At Jacob’s well near Sychar was the thirsting Savior in Whom all the fullness of the Godhead dwelt.  He thirsts for you.

11The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? There is a better well than even Jacob’s Well.  Its water is eternal life.  He had a bucket to draw it out of the depths of salvation:  His Word.  41And many more believed because of his word. The Lord, our Good Shepherd, leads the woman to the depths of salvation.

First, she calls Him, Sir and recognizes He is a Jew. Then when He tells here “everything she ever did”, she says, You are a prophet.   Natural perception can so understand Him.

But when she turns to the conversation to the coming of the Christ, the Messiah, He says, “I who speak to you am he.” Only by His revelation does she know, and you and I, who He is.

But the Lord does not stop there nor does the Samaritan woman.  She is being quenched and goes and proclaims to her fellow Samaritan villagers Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” 30They went out of the town and were coming to him. She becomes the first evangelist.  Jesus then stays, abides with them in their village for two days.  42They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.”

Notice the conversation goes from “Sir”,

to a Jew

then to a prophet.  Natural man can recognize that but then

the Messiah

then the villagers realize He is,”…the Savior of the world”.

Truly as the prophet Isaiah preached, “With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.” (Is. 12: 3)

From the prophet Jeremiah:

2Be appalled, O heavens, at this;
be shocked, be utterly desolate,
declares the LORD,
13for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me,
the fountain of living waters,
and hewed out cisterns for themselves,
broken cisterns that can hold no water.

Now a cistern is not the same as a well.  A well has a spring.  A cistern is a deep hole in the ground to collect rain water yet both are used for drinking. Many have forsaken the fountain of living waters, the Word of Law and the Word made flesh for their own self-made theological broken cisterns of relativism, deconstructionism, self-choice and self, Biblical criticism, immorality as life-style choice.  Those cisterns are the public water works of hell.  The devil loves that public water works because no one will ever be quenched.   Jesus gives the living water. Living water is water that flows in and flows out, a spring, welling up to eternal life.  Many churches have hewed out cisterns for themselves, wells they think, but they hold no water or if they do, it stagnates.  It seems to me that so much of Christianity today is such cisterns or it could be liken to a river that’s a mile wide and a foot deep.  It’s pretty but you can not get wet and refreshed and so drink of His grace and peace for dirtied and wearied men and women. A boat can not float in such a river, let alone the Ark of the Church. Jeremiah who preached to Israel regarding their broken cisterns they hewed out for themselves was not too well received in Judah.  The powers that be told the King that Jeremiah was disturbing Israel by his preaching and King said do what you want with him,

6So they took Jeremiah and cast him into the cistern of Malchiah, the king’s son, which was in the court of the guard, letting Jeremiah down by ropes. And there was no water in the cistern, but only mud, and Jeremiah sank in the mud. Jeremiah 38:5-7

Jeremiah who preached that Israel had sought water in broken cisterns is in one. Poetic justice?  Or more like, ironic injustice.  They eventually pulled him out. But Jeremiah’s Lord would go to the depths Himself.  The depths of depravity and of sorrow are only met by the One who went deeper still as He was lifted up on the Cross. In the second lesson for today (Romans5:1-11), the Apostle says we were weak, enemies of God and sinners but He went down to us to raise us to live and drink of His fountain of reconciliation.  There is no place so low that the Lord has not been lower.  He was lowered into a grave.  He is risen.  I think it is good that the icon on the bulletin cover (on this posting) renders the well in the shape of a cross. And the next time we ever hear of Jesus thirsting is much later in John’s Gospel, when the Lord is on the Cross and cries, I thirst. (John 19:28) He thirsts for you to reveal your thirst and quench it and has and will.  He is fountain of living water so He fills us with the Himself and His Word.

Living water is water that flows.  There are two bodies of water in Israel: the Sea of Galilee in the north, flowing out of it the Jordan River, emptying in the Dead Sea.  The Sea of Galilee is a beautiful fresh water lake and is fresh and living because water flows in and out.  The Dead Sea is the lowest spot on earth:  no water leaves this body of water.  No life is in it.  It has so many chemicals that drinking one ounce and a person dies.  But you can float it in but not much farming around the Dead Sea, in fact, none. Water that flows in and out is living.  As Christ Jesus gave and gives you His life, the life of all the living, the Church flows out with the three-fold confession of sin, of praise and of faith:  the confession of sin,  of all which is dead and lifeless and He brings us to life in His living water again, of His forgiveness and peace in His forgiveness. The confession of praise and thanksgiving as in this Holy Communion.  Set free from sin and the devil, freed for the confession of faith:  Jesus is Lord and when called to do so to say in joy to our fellows, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.”

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