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Time To Have a Drink of Salvation!

March 19, 2017

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Lent 3                                                            Trinity Lutheran Church

22 March 2017                                             Murdock, NE


+ Jesu Juva +

John 4:5-26

Let’s cut right to the chase. No sense messing around. It’s time to get wet. It’s time to have a big dog drink of salvation today!

Jesus plays a verbal chess game with a Samaritan woman. The conversation revolves around drinking. A drink of water that leaves you thirsty or a drink of water that gives eternal life. So, with this conversation Jesus leads her out of her spiritual death and darkness and into the marvelous light of salvation that comes only through Him. “Whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. That water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

Imagine the look on her face when Jesus clinches the conversation with the categorical promise: “I’m glad you are interested in worshiping God. I’m happy you’ve been waiting for the Messiah. Well, honey, look no more. Wait no more. I am the Christ. I who speak to you am He! Worship Me. Believe in Me. You’ll never be thirst again. I give you water for eternal life.”   I’ll bet her jaw hit the side of Jacob’s well. I’ll bet her ears and heart were busting with joy.

I repeat the conversation revolves around the language of “water.” “Give me a drink of water…. The water I will give will well up to eternal life.” Water is salvationally huge with Jesus and so too in the gospel according to St. John.

It all starts with Jesus’ baptism in the water of the Jordan. It continues with His changing water into delicious wedding wine at a blowout wedding reception at Cana. Then there’s his baptismal — you must be born of water and of the Spirit promise to Nicodemus.   Today it’s Jacob’s well and His “give me a drink” and “water” welling up to “eternal life” pledge to the sassy Samaritan woman. John’s gospel climaxes with “blood and water” gushing from Christ’s slashed-open-Good-Friday-on-the-cross-torso.

In the text before us the difference is Jacob’s water and Jesus’ water. Water that you get from Jacob’s well and water that Jesus gives. Well water and living water. Water that doesn’t quench your thirst forever and water that does. Water you work for and water that works FOR YOU. If you’re starting to sense an undertow of Baptism in all this water talk, then you’re picking up what Jesus precisely is throwing down.

Jacob’s water is well water. Law water. You work for it. You earn it. You wake up every day, put your empty water jug on top of your head, walk across the field that Jacob gave to Joseph, hook your jug to the rope and lower it down into the deep well then draw it up and put the full jug of water back on top of your head and walk it home so your family can cook and clean. Makes you appreciate tap water, doesn’t it?

It’s hard work. Thirsty work. By the time you get home, you want a drink of water, and by the next day, you have to do it all over again. There is no end to the work or the thirst. That’s the way it is with the law. It is all work. It never ends. It promises life but can’t deliver. It quenches thirst for a while, perhaps, but the thirst for righteousness returns the moment you realize how great a sinner you are even in your best moments. You can work and work and work at keeping commandments, but there are always more and they run as deep as Jacob’s well, going right to the sinful heart from which flow all sorts of evil, self-centered desires. You can do all the right things but if the heart is not right the thing is still sinful. And the sinful heart is never right.

The thirst for righteousness is a thirst the law cannot quench. Work only makes you thirstier. Commandment keeping leaves you salvationally parched and dry. Well water won’t save you exactly because you have to work for it. What you need is living water. You need salvific water that flows to you freely. Grace water. Not the water of Jacob and Moses, but of Jesus. The law came through Moses; grace and truth come through Jesus. He gives water that quenches the eternal thirst for righteousness. It is not water that you work for. It is a water that flows TO YOU. It is a gracious water welling up in you to a spring of eternal life.

You heard from Exodus today that as Israel wandered in the wilderness, there was no well. The Israelites were dry-as-dust-thirsty. Dying OF THIRST! So, Moses strikes a rock. From the rock comes fresh spring water for the Israelites to drink. According to St. Paul that rock was Christ (1 Cor 10). Jesus is the Stricken Rock with Streaming Side. Jesus needs no bucket because Jesus is the Source, the Wellspring. From His wounded side flows the stream of living water that quenches your thirst for righteousness. It isn’t water you work for, but water that flows from the side of dead on the cross Jesus to the font of your Baptism.

We are like that Samaritan woman in so many ways. We are born outcasts. Outsiders to the kingdom. “Not a people,” and by birth certainly not the people of God. While we may hide behind our ethnic, national or religious pride, that’s all nothing before God. It’s simply a flimsy facade. Fig leaves. Jesus cuts through all that to get to the heart of things, to get to the core of who we really are before God.

How does He do it? Well, He comes with the law and initially He seems harsh and demanding. It seems as though all He wants is for you to serve Him, to do His bidding and run to meet His every demand. Help that man in the ditch. Sell all your possessions. Give me something to drink. He holds up the mirror of the law and reflects back to us our broken lives and the sins of our past. “You have had five husbands and the one you’re living with is not your husband.” He reflects the truth back into our faces, and frankly it’s a truth we can’t handle. It’s embarrassing to be in the presence of someone who knows you that well, that deeply. It’s frightening. You just want to run and hide from someone like that.

Jesus, however, doesn’t come to shame you or condemn you. He’s not there to rub your nose in your past or give you marching orders in your present to guarantee your future. He comes to redeem your past, present, and future. He comes to cover you with His righteousness, and holy you with His holiness. He comes to rescue you from the riptide of sin and death that threatens to pull you out into a sea of darkness and misery. He comes to rescue you from yourself and give you a life you can’t have on your own.
After holding up that mirror of the law to your eyes, He puts it down and says, “Now look at me. Don’t look to Moses and his commandments to see who you are. Look to me. Look into the mirror of my gaze and see reflected back to you who you really are in Me. Moses calls you a sinner. That’s true. That’s what you are in Adam. But I call you a saint. That’s who you are in Me! I’ve died for you, I’ve bled for you, I’ve baptized you in the living water of my death and life. The old you is drowned, the new you, FAITH, is born in the living water. I, the Christ, am speaking to you in font and sermon and Supper, telling you who you are. And when I speak, it is so.”

The apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither the immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor perverts, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor robbers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.”

You are baptized. You are a child of God, washed, sanctified, and justified in the Name of Jesus and the Spirit of God. Eternal life is yours. That is what the living water that Jesus brings will do for you. Happy drinking! Happy swimming in the water of your baptism in to Christ!

In the Name of Jesus.




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