Sermon for Sunday, March 14, 2021, 3rd Week of Lent
Exodus 17:1-7, Psalm 95, Romans 5:1-11, John 4:5-42
I saw a sermon example in a fellow clergy’s sermon, that clicked with me immediately and so I sort of “borrowed” it, though anyone who has had little kids will know it very well. It’s about a little boy asking his Father for a drink of water several times until his Father is frustrated and says to his son, “If you ask for water one more time, I’m going to spank you!” Almost immediately the little boy asks for water and his Father storms up the stairs, and the little boy says, “If you coming to my room, can you bring me a little water!” I read that, and remembered when our boys would do the same thing and had to laugh. As funny as that is, the lesson today is a whole lot more important than that.
In our lesson from Exodus, we see that the whole Israelite community is united in obedience to God’s command. Then they found no water to drink on he way God had commanded, they began to quarrel with their leader, Moses, and to demand water to drink. They began questioning God’s leadership and to threaten Moses. Moses continue to obey God and God affirmed him as His chosen leader with the miracle of the rock at Horeb. God affirms and assists His leaders when they are obedient in following His leadership. And God will show His faithfulness to a disobedient, grumbling people.
As God provided manna (V16-13) for His people to eat, He also showed them through Moses that it also was there for them. Rebels cannot expect miracles from God by demanding them, but by His grace, He did choose to supply their deed miraculously despite their rebellious attitudes. Today, beloved, we call upon God to provide for us by demand, instead of seeking Him in prayer, to provide for us in spite of our sinful ways. We have kicked God out of so many aspects of society, that our rebellion does not get rewarded for our actions or lack thereof, it is His grace that makes the difference. The center of a miracle is that human beings in faith are made aware of God at work in His world!
In Psalm 95 we are told to enter His presence with thanksgiving and submission. The call to worship is a vital display in the congregation’s worship. It calls for worship and obedience. Its speech to the congregation is at the same time prayer to God. God created and controls everything—-heights and depths, land and sea. Thus He rules all, and we respond naturally in humble worship. The Creator, beloved, Is also the kind Shepherd. Past sin should warn the present generation of God’s power and will to intervene in history and discipline sinners. Never forget that praise raises our pray life beyond ourselves to encompass the universe and all of its inhabitants.
In our lesson from Romans, we learn that the death of Christ made possible for the Christian (that’s you and me): peace, grace, joy, hope amid suffering, right relationship with God, salvation from judgment, reconciliation with God, and a life experiencing God’s salvation daily. Christ’s death for ungodly sinners is certainly more than sufficient proof God loves us.
From the Gospel of John we hear about Jesus’ experience at the well with the Samaritan woman. Generations of preachers have told us this story is about a sinful woman whose sexual wantonness is discovered—-and about Jesus telling her how many “husbands” she had had, though she was not wife to any of them. This story’s placement in the lectionary’s reasoning is that its emphasis in on sin and repentance and moral purity, except that it’s not!
No social barrier is too extreme for the gospel message to cross, beloved. The Samaritan woman was an outcast in Jewish society on at least two counts: mixed ethnic lineage and an unacceptable marital situation. This is why she is at the well around mid-day, when normally the women would be there early in the morning.
Jesus demonstrated by His actions, however, that each person has worth. Social or racial standing never places a person beyond the touch of grace. Contemporary attempts to discriminate, to stereotype, and to paternalize those ethnically different from us find their source in prejudice and a false sense of superiority which in turn stems from our sinful natures.
In this dialogue between Jesus and the Samaritan woman we learn principles of how to d personal evangelism. A witness: is concerned with one individual; it begins with felt needs and desires of the lost person; it directs the conversation to the person’s basic spiritual need; it shows the person his or her sin and need of salvation; it keeps the conversation from straying from the real issue; it points to Jesus as Messiah and Savior; and it leads the new convert to witness to others. Today, Christians can follow Jesus’ example and principles. Jesus is the Giver of eternal life. Eternal life is like an ever-glowing spring of living water. It is the crop which God’s reapers are now harvesting, the gathering of he lost into God’s Kingdom.
Jesus asked the woman at the well for a drink of water, but only to breach to subject of living water. When they were finished talking, the woman went into town and told everyone of her encounter at the well, she had been changed by her encounter, and so will anyone who is willing to accept Christ as their Lord and Savior. For it is then, that our conversations with Him begin and they become more personal, more effective, because we are doing out best to follow in His footsteps. Amen