Third Sunday in Lent
Psalm 95 Exodus 17:1-7 Romans 5:1-11 John 4:5-42
This well-loved story of Jesus’ encounter with the woman of Samaria promises the incredible gift of living water, which will become in the believer “a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.” V14. But first we see that Jesus violates two strong cultural norms of his day— norms that were so important that no one would think of violating them! The first one was that men were never to speak to a woman, not even one’s own wife or mother, in public! And secondly, Jews were never to speak to a Samaritan! Samaritans were treated as despised aliens so that the Jews had absolutely no dealings with them. So, the Samaritan woman is shocked when Jesus asks her for a drink of water and she says as much. “How is it that you, a Jew, are asking a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?” (V9). And so, Jesus speaks of ‘living water’ and “the gift of God.” Her reply indicates that she has taken his words very literally and so is very intrigued and eager to have this ‘living water’ and never be thirsty or draw water from the well again! But then in normal conversation and without a hint of condemnation, Jesus reveals that he knows all about her chaotic past; therefore, she perceives that he must be a prophet. She hurries into town to spread this news among everyone she knows! Perhaps she is the first evangelist! Many hurried to see him for themselves and invited him to come and stay with them for several days. In the process many came to believe. So, it seems that Jesus had indeed given her ‘living water’ gushing up to eternal life! Another Scripture from John makes it very clear that living water refers to the Holy Spirit. We read in John 7:37-39 the invitation of Jesus: “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink. As the scripture has said, ‘out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water. ’ Now he said this about the Spirit which believers in him were to receive…”
And the Holy Spirit is truly the gift of God. Meditating on Scriptures that speak of the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives can help us to be open and listening for the promptings of the Holy Spirit as we go through our day. Jesus assures us that “God gives the Spirit without measure.” (John 3:34) And in Ephesians 3:20 we read that “God can do more in us and through us than we ever could ask or imagine, by the power at work in us.” This is reiterated in Hebrew Scripture (Zechariah 4:6) where we read that it is “not by might, nor by power, but my spirit, says the Lord of hosts” that God’s work is accomplished.
Our church hymnal contains several hymns that invite and welcome the Holy Spirit to come and work in and through us. Some of these can be wonderful prayers both at the beginning of the day and anytime when we are aware of our need for renewal: God working in and through us to bring God’s love and peace to all the earth.