Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Gospel text for Sunday 19 March 2017

John 4:5-42
Jesus came to a Samaritan city called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired out by his journey, was sitting by the well. It was about noon.  A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” (His disciples had gone to the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?” (Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, “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.” The woman said to him, “Sir, you have no bucket, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us the well, and with his sons and his flocks drank from it?” Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I may never be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.”

Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come back.” The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you have said is true!” The woman said to him, “Sir, I see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you say that the place where people must worship is in Jerusalem.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When he comes, he will proclaim all things to us.” Jesus said to her, “I am he, the one who is speaking to you.”

Just then his disciples came. They were astonished that he was speaking with a woman, but no one said, “What do you want?” or, “Why are you speaking with her?” Then the woman left her water jar and went back to the city. She said to the people, “Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done! He cannot be the Messiah, can he?” They left the city and were on their way to him.

Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, “Rabbi, eat something.” But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” So the disciples said to one another, “Surely no one has brought him something to eat?” Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to complete his work. Do you not say, ‘Four months more, then comes the harvest’? But I tell you, look around you, and see how the fields are ripe for harvesting. The reaper is already receiving wages and is gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.”

Many Samaritans from that city believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I have ever done.” So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them; and he stayed there two days. And many more believed because of his word. They 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 truly the Savior of the world.”

When Jesus looked at the woman at Jacob’s well he did not see a foreigner, he did not see an unaccompanied woman, he did not see a sinner.  Jesus saw a woman who had spent her life searching for something to quench her desire, her deep longing for the kind of love that is untouched by the vagaries of time and circumstance. Jesus must have looked into this woman’s eyes and recognized her longing for the eternal love of God. So Jesus offered her just that, a blessing that would become in her “a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.”

Here is the thing, every day Jesus had to decide to risk his security, safety, esteem, power and control - all of his programs for personal happiness - in order to live in accord with the will of God; to love God with all his “heart, soul, mind and strength…and to love (his) neighbor as himself.”  Every day, every hour, Jesus had to decide to what he would say yes, yes. Would it be yes to his personal privilege, pleasure or protection or would it be yes for the good of others, the benefit of many, for long term gain rather than instant gratification? 

We can only imagine what Jesus must have been feeling in his heart while offering blessing to the woman at Jacob’s well. Perhaps there is a clue in his response to the disciples concern about him having skipped a meal to linger at the well. “I have food to eat that you do not know about.”… “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to complete his work.” The deepest desire of Jesus’ heart is to do the will of God. In doing the will of God Jesus is nourished and sustained.

This is the way of worshipping God in spirit and in truth; acknowledging the deepest desire of our hearts,  encountering God therein and passing on the blessing for the benefit of others. In this we are nourished and sustained. 

Every day, every hour, Jesus had to decide to what he would say yes, yes. Every hour of every day we also must decide to what we will say yes. “What is your heart’s desire? What do you wish for yourself, for your loved ones and for the world? Is it all about me or is it all about we?” Our answers to these questions determine whether we will forever be hungry and thirsty or eternally sustained.  Amen.

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