The Third Sunday in Lent; Year A (3/23/2014)

Texts:Exodus 17:1-7 Psalm 95 Romans 5:1-11 St. John 4:5-42

Prayer of the Day: Merciful God, the fountain of living water, you quench our thirst and wash away our sin. Give us this water always. Bring us to drink from the well that flows with the beauty of your truth through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.

4:5 So [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.) 10 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.” 11 The woman said to him, “Sir, you have no bucket, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water?12 Are you greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us the well, and with his sons and his flocks drank from it?” 13 Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14but 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.” 15 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.”

16 Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come back.” 17The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; 18 for you have had five husbands, and the one you have now is not your husband. What you have said is true!” 19 The woman said to him, “Sir, I see that you are a prophet. 20 Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you say that the place where people must worship is in Jerusalem.” 21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews.23 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. 24 God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” 25 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.”26 Jesus said to her, “I am he, the one who is speaking to you.”

27 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?” 28 Then the woman left her water jar and went back to the city. She said to the people, 29“Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done! He cannot be the Messiah, can he?” 30 They left the city and were on their way to him.

31 Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, “Rabbi, eat something.” 32 But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” 33 So the disciples said to one another, “Surely no one has brought him something to eat?” 34 Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to complete his work. 35 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. 36 The reaper is already receiving wages and is gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. 37 For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ 38 I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.”

39 Many Samaritans from that city believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I have ever done.” 40So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them; and he stayed there two days. 41 And many more believed because of his word. 42 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.”

St. John 4:5-42, New Revised Standard Version Bible (C)1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America.

The Woman at the Well

This week’s Gospel lesson continues our journey with Jesus towards Jerusalem, the cross, and his Passion. Now, along the way we meet a Samaritan woman. As he comes to this city at mid-day, he finds her at the well, drawing water. All the other women have presumably come earlier in the day, when the sun is lower in the sky and the temperature cooler. Is she not welcome then? Have they made this clear? She is welcome with Jesus, though. He could have chosen to have nothing to do with this Samaritan (read: enemy of the Jews) woman (read: in a time when men didn’t converse with women in public) at the well (read: there at noon because the others made it too uncomfortable for her to be there earlier in the day). But he shuns tradition, and befriends her.

They share a drink of water. They talk a bit of theology. He reveals how much he knows of her (everything, that is — even that which embarrasses her the most). And he announces to her who he is: the Messiah, the one who is called the Christ. Right there! With her! At the well! In the heat of the noon-day sun!

She is overwhelmed, if by nothing else than the fact that he is there. Actually, his presence so inspires her that she leaves her jar at the well (unheard of!) and races back to town to tell them all about Jesus. Her story is so compelling that they, too, leave everything behind and begin to make their way to him. Because of her experience with Jesus and her passion for sharing it with others, “Many Samaritans from that city believed in him.”

Here is a woman whom no good, self-respecting religious person would have had anything to do with. But Jesus doesn’t draw these kinds of distinctions. To him, she is a child of God in need of a word of grace. He has one for her, and he shares it with her, an one might assume that neither she nor her neighbors are ever the same again.


David J. Risendal, Pastor

Exploring This Week’s Gospel:

  1. Why is this woman alone at the well at noontime?
  2. What risk does Jesus take in reaching out to her?
  3. Why is she so deeply moved by the time he spends with her?

Connecting with This Week’s Gospel:

  1. What awareness do I have of the times when Jesus is present with me?
  2. How might I become more in tune to when this is happening for me?
  3. Who might I tell about my love for Jesus, and the difference has has made in my life?