Title: The Energy Drink
Text: Jn 4:5-26
Third Sunday in Lent, March 23, 2014
In lake country we are unaware of what many in the world are facing. Additionally, we are close to the Great Lakes which contain 85% of the fresh water in North America and 20% of the world’s. Whether it is in the Middle East or, in California, or Richville, water is life.
If you are in reasonable shape and in ideal conditions—that is, not in the heat or cold without exerting yourself, a human can probably live for about 3 to 5 days without any water. Healthier humans can live another day or so longer.
Israel is on the same latitude as Savannah Georgia—32nd parallel—and so it gets hot; especially in summer. It is mid-day and Jesus thirsts, much like he did on the cross when he shed his blood for the forgiveness of our sins. Jesus thirsts. Why? Because Jesus is true God and true man and people get thirsty. And so Jesus asks a woman at the well for a drink. This request is not by accident and nor is it driven by his thirst, but intentionally and deliberately Jesus once again breaks into sinful, corrupt human culture. Where human culture is wrong Jesus runs headlong into it—to bring mercy, to bring forgiveness.
In the days of Jesus those who were abandoning the faith of Israel were developing what has come to be known as Rabbinic Judaism. Rabbinic Judaism much like Islam strictly forbids an adult male to talk to a woman who is not his wife or related by marriage. Conversely, all Christianity does is ask people to respect the sixth commandment, and be properly attired.
If that were not enough—talking to an adult woman—Jesus was talking to one who was hated by the Jews, and, vice-versa. Samaritans and Jews were in constant warfare over worship practices. Why, if you didn’t know better you would think the gospel writer was writing about a church in the Missouri Synod—oh, wait, you mean there is nothing new under the sun? Exactly.
Samaritans were the few Hebrews who survived the destruction of the ten northern tribes, intermarried with Gentiles, and worshipped on Mt. Gerizim for in the fourth century BC they built a temple there. Those who held to the faith of father Abraham, as well as Rabbinic Judaism taught that true worship was in Jerusalem.
So Jesus was breaking two false constructs of human culture; he was talking to a woman to whom he was not related and secondly, he was talking to the hated enemy—a Samaritan. Why? Because the Gospel, the mercy of Jesus won through his shed blood is for all people, regardless of skin color, sex—male or female—regardless of a particular sin such as murder, stealing, gossiping, and regardless of a particular gender falsely constructed by society: Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender. Whoever such a person is, regardless of what their pet sin is Jesus loves sinners, so much so that he willingly died for us that we not die in hell for eternity for our transgressions of God’s holy law.
Jesus initiates conversation for he is the God of compassion, of mercy. He asks the woman for a drink and it is quite safe to say she is, well, stunned, completely surprised at this breech of cultural hostility. “‘How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?’ (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.)” (Jn 4:9).
Jesus moves the conversation along for he is fishing for her soul, for her life. He moves the conversation from the water of creation to the water that forgives—
‘…whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I give him,’ says Jesus, ‘will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life’” (Jn 4:19).
This water which wells up within the believer is the water of the Holy Spirit who sustains us through life’s parched wilderness. This water comes to us but not through the esophagus. This water comes through God’s promised channels of Word and Sacrament. Without this water one usually lives more than four or five days. But a limit is there. Without this water one lives no more than ninety or a hundred years and the person succumbs to the second death and the dehydration of hell-fire that lasts for eternity.
All the things of life will never hydrate our souls with the forgiveness we need. This forgiveness comes only from Christ’s shed blood. All the good gifts of creation leave us lacking. The more we use things of this world to hydrate the soul the more parched, dry, and delusional we become in our frantic quest to find satisfaction and comfort. It becomes and vicious cycle which always ends in eternal death. It is similar to drinking saltwater.
The salt content in seawater is so high that it is considered a poison. When a person drinks seawater, the kidneys must generate urine to flush the salt away, but to do so, they need more water than is contained in the seawater itself, so the body pulls water from its cells. Bereft of water, the cells begin to fail. Paradoxically, a drink of seawater causes potentially fatal dehydration.
Many people say they believe in Jesus but make a life-style of skipping church. It is the exception when they come, not the norm. Now, if Jesus was an object or a possession like a lucky charm you could put him in your pocket and you would have Jesus. But Jesus is a person and to know someone you need to have a relationship. And that relationship is built and strengthened where that person speaks to you, feeds and interacts with you.
Marriages where spouses do not visit and spend time together do not last for marriage, love, is not an object or possession that can be placed on the dining room table and forgotten about. Marriage is a relationship between two people that needs to be worked at and strengthened.
Notice again, that salvation is always outside of us, given, as gift, not as reward for something accomplished. Salvation from Jesus is always gift given to those who forsake their righteousness, abandon their own “pretend” goodness, and admit before God and ourselves that we really are nothing but filthy unworthy beggars.
Jesus who forgives our sins loves us so much that he does not leave us in our sin. Jesus calls us to let go of any and all things which depart from his Word. Anything that is contrary to God’s Word is, well, not freedom, but captivity; not individuality but a loss of personhood; and nor is it an act of self-expression but bondage to a horrific taskmaster.
And so as to not leave this woman in her sin, Jesus requests to meet her husband and the rest of the sordid details of her life unfold.
My friends, this season of Lent and all the days of our walk with Jesus he would have us confess the sordid details of our lives. Don’t defend them by re-interpreting Scripture from its natural and normal understanding. This Samaritan is to be commended for her honesty and forthrightness as are all repentant sinners. Confess your sins and use this woman as a model or guide for saving faith.
She knew her life was a shambles by any standard. And so as one living in the Old Testament she was waiting for the Messiah to come to redeem her from her sins.
This water of the Holy Spirit is fed, nourished, and replenished when we are fed by Jesus through his appointed means. Jesus’ blood forgives and nourishes. No matter what you have done, Jesus forgave it on the cross. Believe that good news and forsake, do not defend that sin, and rest, knowing you are loved by the God who rose from the dead, you are precious, and Jesus loves all sinners, and his mercy does not leave us in our sin.
The Great Lakes have 85% of North America’s fresh water and twenty percent of the world’s. Having this water gives life and you can with other things in your favor make it to eighty or ninety years.
But Jesus is talking about a different kind of water—one that that hydrates for eternity. And Jesus has a 100% monopoly on the water that wells up to eternal life (Jn 4:19). Jesus has this monopoly for the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Jesus. This water of the Holy Spirit nourishes you through life’s barren wilderness and through eternity.
As Jesus cries out through His spokesman, Isaiah:
“Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price” (Is 55:1).
You have no money to purchase gifts that last for eternity for they are too expensive. But still, come and buy at the well of life, for Jesus on the cross has through his innocent, bitter, suffering and death purchased salvation for you.
 Laura Hillenbrand, Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption (New York: Random House, 2010), 128.