March 22, 2014

Jesus Gives Us the Living Water of Hope (Lent 3)

The Exodus reading (17.1-7) reminded us of how the Hebrew people had been dependant on God for physical water in order to survive. In the Romans reading (5.1-11) the Apostle Paul is explaining Jesus as the one who gives us the hope of forgiveness and a new personal relationship with God. This hope leads us into a personal experience of God’s love.
  • Hope is what can get us through difficulties in life.
  • Difficulties of life push us to choose to hope in God and actually make us spiritually stronger.
  • Downside is that for some people, who do not have this hope, life can be overwhelming and destructive.
Gospel reading (John4.5-42) gives a very detailed account of Jesus revealing the Good News of hope to the least likely person - a Samaritan woman living with a man out of wedlock. As a devout Jew he probably should not have even talked to her, let alone accepted a drink of water. Jesus is modelling evangelism and church building. As people wondering about the future of our church we need to study Jesus teachings very carefully. We don’t know anyone who does not need the living water of hope.

1. Jesus gives us the living water of forgiveness
In this conversation we see how quickly Jesus uses the example of physical water to explain “spiritual water”. This teaches us how to explain our faith in practical terms to other people.
·         The ‘living water’ of Jesus is different from the ‘dead’ water - that most of us drink. When we drink water it only nourishes us for a short time.
·         The spiritual water Jesus is speaking of is different. Jesus tells her it will be like having your own well of water inside you. A well that flows more and more as you drink from it. This water is not blocked or dammed.
·         Many people are blocked from experiencing God’s love by their sense of guilt and shame. They feel separated from God.
·         The good news of Jesus is the living water of forgiveness. Jesus sacrificial death opened up a path for us to follow in re-establishing a relationship with God. Water is symbolic of washing and the gift of Jesus is the hope of washing away guilt and gaining forgiveness.

2. Jesus gives us the living water of the Holy Spirit
Many people feel they are alone. They have no personal experience of God. God is a distant rule giver.
·         Jesus teaches the woman that God is Spirit. People are to worship God in Spirit.
·         Means in an invisible but real emotional connection between our personal spirit and the Holy Spirit of God. We all need the living water of a regular personal experience of God’s love.
·         We are like the Hebrew people in the desert. We know God is there in our heads, but we need to know this for sure from our own experience. This is the living water Jesus gives us.
·         Without such an experience of the Holy Spirit our religion is only a philosophy or moral view.
·         The Good News is that everyone who asks is given the living water of the Holy Spirit.

3. Jesus gives us the living water of hope of eternal spiritual life
Many people are afraid of death. They are confused about eternal life. We see this confusion at funerals where relatives are being comforted that their loved one is alive in heaven. The same preachers that try to scare people into attending church with teachings on the consequences of un-forgiven sin suddenly seem to change the message to a vague hope that Jesus will somehow make an exception and get their unbelieving loved one into the Kingdom they do not even believe in. The Readings remind us that:
·         In Baptism we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit as a sign of our inclusion in the Kingdom
·         This gift of the Holy Spirit either grows and fills our lives with the living water of love, joy and peace – or shrivels and dies for lack of nourishment or as a result of the spiritual pollution of our un-forgiven sin and guilt
·         A very Spirit-filled and holy bishop was once asked why he was always confessing his minor sins – he replied that he leaked
·         We need to keep going back to Jesus for forgiveness
·         Need to keep inviting the Holy Spirit into our lives
·         Those who are going to heaven know where they are going and have real hope in eternal life

Jesus gives us the living water of hope
Jesus tells the woman at the well that He is the Messiah. This is the first and clearest revelation of who He is in Scripture. Jesus has obviously lost hope in the Jewish synagogue leaders of his time. He is reaching out to the least likely person - a Samaritan (non-Jewish outcast), a woman and a person living in sin.
·         Gives us all hope that no matter how far we have strayed, it is still possible for the love of God to reach out and restore us into right relationship.

·         Challenges us to share the good news of God’s living water in Jesus. We are all surrounded by people who are living in a spiritual desert. They may not even know what the Bible tells us about Jesus. They may be confused about religion. They may be seeking the water of spiritual life.

The good news of this story is that Jesus is the only one who can give us real hope

       - in the form of the water of spiritual life. 

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