A Sermon by Rev. Daniel Pondevida
Parish Pastor, Trinity Lutheran Church, Quezon City
South Luzon District
March 15, 2020 | 3rd Sunday in Lent
Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our Father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
Gospel Reading: John 4:5-26
5 So he came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the field that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6 Jacob’s well was there; so Jesus, wearied as he was from his journey, was sitting beside the well. It was about the sixth hour. 7 A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” 8 (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.) 9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings 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 nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.” 13 Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” 15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.” 16 Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” 17 The 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 now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.” 19 The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” 21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. 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 is seeking such people 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 (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.” 26 Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.”
The clear directive of the Metro Manila Council allowing religious gatherings amid the imposition of community quarantine of the entire Metro Manila and the declaration of the State of Calamity in Quezon City came late last night (March 14), after Trinity Lutheran Church has suspended its worship service today. Upon inquiry with Barangay Sacred Heart all other Churches around the larger vicinity of Trinity, Roman Catholic churches and Evangelicals were also suspending church services today, Sunday.
However, despite of the confusion, we somehow exhibit our willingness as Christians to obey and support our government when called for. Obedience to civil authorities is enshrined in our confession, Article 16 of the Augsburg Confession. Secondly, our cooperation is also a love of neighbor. We do not want to be responsible of other people getting ill of covid-19.
In view of the above, I resolved to post my sermon on the 3rd Sunday of Lent on Facebook for everyone to read and meditate upon. This is the Word of God for us today.
Not once, not twice but five times! I am not speaking of Susan Roces but of this Samaritan woman who was with five husbands and the fifth was not even her husband.
Among the Jews, a man can write a letter of divorce to her wife in case of immorality. This woman must have a very colorful life.
Imagine the life of this woman inside her community. Poor as she is drawing water for herself at twelve noon when the heat of the sun is in its hottest so that the well would be deserted perhaps to avoid other women to talk at her back.
Inside, this woman is hurting, living a life of guilt. What she did the text did not say but it must be very bad being with five husbands.
If only she can reverse the story of her life she would have taken a different path, perhaps she would be happier with one husband, a faithful wife and a loving mother to her children. But she cannot! She has to live for what she is now and endure what others had to say about her, suffering and crying inside even in the middle of the day.
Can we relate with this Samaritan woman? Truth is, there are so many Samaritan women among us, including men. Perhaps not as colorful as she is but the same guilt feelings of a dark past. We are also hurting inside of some guilt feelings unconfessed and unforgiven. It is a heavy burden to carry unless brought into the open in repentance and forgiveness.
According to some archeologists the well of Jacob is about 138 feet deep. The woman could have jumped at the bottom of the well and end her miserable life. Some people have taken this option because they cannot carry their burden anymore. What a tragic end it could be.
The Jews and the Samaritans were not in good terms because of some history in the past. So the Samaritan woman was somehow surprised to see a Jew in Jacob’s well for they have not seen a Jew in the Samaritan territory for quite sometimes. The Jews consider it unclean to have contact with the Samaritans. This Jew sitting on Jacob’s well must be a crazy Jew or a good to nothing Jew. Even so, this hurting Samaritan woman could be the reason why Jesus crossed the Samaritan territory and found himself sitting at Jacob’s well.
Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” 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.”
Jesus here is introducing himself to the Samaritan woman as her Savior. The “gift” can be translated as “Grace” giving this Samaritan woman what she needed most “the grace of forgiveness”.
But the rift between a Jew and a Samaritan gets in the way for the woman to receive this offer of grace. “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? If Jesus wants water to drink he has to draw it from the well himself for the woman cannot lend her the vessel because the Jews cannot drink from the cup of a Samaritan lest he defile himself.
Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
Jesus crossed border to reach this Samaritan woman with the offer of forgiveness. “…whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again.” Not a Samaritan, or a Jew or a gentile but whoever drinks the water Jesus will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.
We are all hurting because of sin no matter what the color of our skin. The offer of grace from Jesus knows no race and borders. The same hurt and the same guilt feelings that need forgiveness.
“Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father.” “…the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.”
Sin is not exclusive of a certain race, all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God St. Paul said in Romans 3:23. We all need a savior in Jesus because in him the spring of water welling up to eternal life.
In the same manner that Jesus introduced himself to the Samaritan woman as her Savior, Jesus introduced himself to us as our Savior. He crossed heaven to earth to seek for us. He crossed death to life for our forgiveness and hope of eternal life.
Look what is happening in the world today. The smell of death is everywhere because of the spread of a virus so called covid-19. There is no excuse, anyone can get the virus and die for all have sinned and the wages of sin is death.
What about our guilt feelings, our sins unconfessed? Are we going to face death without the benefit of forgiveness? Jesus our Savior has come to us and died on the cross for our forgiveness.
The Gospel of Jesus calls for repentance, not in the hour of our death but now when we are still hurting. “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).
A Jew like Jesus took the trouble of humiliating himself to cross the Samaritan territory to seek for this woman who desperately needs forgiveness lest she dies without hope. In the same manner, Jesus took the trouble of humiliating himself, true God that he is, become man, born into a woman, suffered and died on the cross for our forgiveness, to seek for us, to unburden us from all our guilt and offers us forgiveness by the Gospel.
It may have been unfortunate that we were not able to gather today at Trinity Lutheran Church, but not in Mt. Girizim in Samaria or in the Temple of Jerusalem, we worship the Father in spirit and in truth. Where the Gospel is preach in its purity and the Sacraments administered in accordance to the Word of God, the offer of forgiveness is there and the hope of eternal life.
It was also in the 6th hour when the sun stopped shining and Jesus entered the darkness of our sin when he was hanging on the cross. On the cross Jesus cried out, “I thirst”, not just of the water the body needs for he will thirst again but he thirsted for our salvation.
Jesus did not get the water to drink he asked from the woman but his thirst was quenched when the woman finally got to repent and received forgiveness and the promised eternal life.
After meeting her Savior this Samaritan woman hurriedly went to town and told everyone about her encounter with Jesus. She is no longer in hiding, no more guilt feelings, no more shame, she has repented and received mercy. Now she can be of herself again, a new being, a new life to live, no longer in sin but in a life pleasing to God for the forgiveness she receives.
The Gospel crossed race and borders to call us to repentance and faith, more so in the midst of a crisis like Covid-19. The contamination is worldwide as WHO declared it now as Pandemic. When faced with death, the more we realize the need of a Savior.
Jesus crossed the darkest part of our being to bring us to light. Only in Jesus can we find the living water that we cannot thirst again, for the spring of life will flow in us unto life everlasting.
As Christians we do not fear death in the face of Covid-19. When it comes like a thief in the night, Jesus will cross with us from death to life and to life everlasting.
Now the peace of God which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds through faith in Christ Jesus, our Lord. Amen.