Lent 3 2023
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud
Exodus 17:1-17, Romans 5:1-8, John 4:5-26

Sermons online: 
Text and Audio:         immanuelhamiltonchurch.com   click “sermons”
Text:                           pastorjud.org   
Audio:                         pastorjud.podbean.com 
itunes:                        bit.ly/pastorjud
Full Service Audio:   bit.ly/ImmanuelWorship

            Imagine for a moment that you are a pioneer heading west in a covered wagon looking for a good place to live.  One night along the trail there is a heavy rainstorm and in the morning you look out from your wagon and see huge puddles of water.  You say to yourself, “This is it!  I have found the right place.  Look at all this water.  There is plenty for me, and my family, and my animals, and my crops.”  Sounds good?  What’s wrong with your assessment?  These are just puddles.  This water will dry up and be gone.  You need living water…moving water.  You need a creek or a river or a lake with water flowing in and out.  Or, you need to be able to tap into moving water underground by digging a well.

            Water is life. You don’t want to live somewhere where there is no living water.  We see this in the Old Testament lesson where the children of Israel on their way from Egypt to the Promised Land are grumbling against Moses and God because they are camping in the Sinai wilderness where there is no food or water. God promised to care for them, but their thirst overwhelms their trust.

            Water is a big deal.  In Israel, most of the country is a dry, rocky wilderness incompatible with human life.  Water brings life.

            Our Gospel reading today is set at Jacob’s well.  Jacob is the son of Isaac, grandson of Abraham.  Jacob’s well in Samaria taps into a deep underground stream and the water, brought to the surface by buckets and jars, brings life to the people and animals and crops.  Jacob’s well is 135 feet deep, dug by hand.  I cannot imagine the courage and perseverance and hope that it took to keep digging that far down into the earth with hand tools and oil lamps.

            To get to groundwater here you only have to dig down about 10 feet.  Here at Immanuel we sit atop flowing water just below the basement floor.  Last Sunday, with all the rain, the water level rose above the basement floor and began to seep into the building.  We sit atop underground waters on the edge of the Great Miami buried valley aquifer that runs from Indian Lake up north of Bellfontaine, Ohio down to the Ohio River along the route of the Great Miami River.  Just downstream from us, the city of Hamilton taps into the aquifer to produce the best tasting tap water in the world. Maybe we could figure out how to bottle the water flowing into our sump pit instead of pumping it out to the creek.

            Water is life.  Living, moving water is life.  You don’t want to get your drinking water from a puddle. 

            Jesus and His disciples are on their way from the Judean countryside in the south traveling north to Galilee.  On their way, they stop at a Samaritan town called Sychar where Jacob’s well is located.  It is lunch time and the disciples head into town to buy some food while Jesus waits by the well in the heat of the day.  Hauling water a quarter miles from the well back to town is hot work and done mostly in morning or the evening when it is not so warm.  But one woman comes to the well at high noon.  It seems she is an outcast in town.  She is considered a lowlife, corrupted woman and she faces the scorn of the people of Sychar and so she does not want to encounter others and have to deal with their derision.  She would avoid the well altogether, but water is life and eventually she has to go to the well when her thirst overcomes her shame.  She sneaks out with her jar at noon when no one else would be there. 

            But there is someone there.  There is a Jewish man sitting next to the well.  She would wait for Him to leave, but her thirst is great. She needs water.  She is thirsty, and so is the Jewish man at the well.  He breaks all conventions where Jews do not talk to Samaritans and men don’t talk to women and He says to her, “Give me a drink.”

            John 4:9–10 (ESV) 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.” 

            Living water?  Right, moving water…flowing from its source…that is the kind of water in Jacob’s well, water flowing into the well from a deep underground stream.  John 4:11 (ESV) 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?”

            Then the man says something very confusing.  John 4:13–14 (ESV) 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.”  What is going on here?  Is He still talking about the water in the well?

            Then this Jewish man at the well tells the woman all about her life and her five husbands and the man she is now living with who is not her husband.  The woman realizes this man must be a prophet.  They discuss where to worship; on Mt. Gerizim where the Samaritans worship or in Jerusalem where the Jews worship.  He says all that will change and those who worship God will worship in spirit and truth.  This is so much for the woman to take in.  What is this guy talking about?  Who is this guy?  Maybe when the long promised Messiah finally comes He will get all of this straightened out and she tells this to the man.

            Water is life.  Jesus’ Living Water is eternal life.  Jesus is the only source of eternal life.  Living Water flows from the source and the source is Jesus. Anything else is just a puddle that will soon dry up.

            John 4:26 (ESV)  26 Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.”  Jesus is the Messiah, the Christ, the one promised from of old and He is gives this sinful woman the Living Water of eternal life.

            The Living Water that Jesus gives to the woman at the well is the same Living Water that He gives to you.  Living Water is faith in Christ through the Holy Spirit.  This living water is poured out in the waters of baptism, in the words of absolution, in the Body and Blood of Jesus for the forgiveness of sins. 

            Water is life.  Jesus’ Living Water is eternal life.  Jesus is the only source of eternal life.  Living Water flows from the source and the source is Jesus. Anything else is just a puddle that will soon dry up. 

            Everyone gets physically thirsty quickly.  To remain healthy, you need to drink plenty of clean water every day and even more when it is hot or you are doing physical work. If you do not have water you will soon feel the effects, and if you go without water long enough you can die of thirst.  You need water to live.

            You also need spiritual water to live.  Even if they do not want to admit it, all people realize that there is something more to this life than just merely existing day to day. Everyone gets spiritually thirsty. Tragically, so many spiritually thirsty people are being deceived by the devil and are drinking from puddles instead of from the Living Water flowing from the throne of God.  So many are drinking from a muddy puddle that pretends to be living water, but it will soon dry up and leave them dying of thirst.  So many drink from the puddles of made up religions; Scientology, Christian Science, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormonism.  So many drink from puddles of heretical religions that deny Jesus is the way, the truth and the life such as Islam, Judaism, and liberal church bodies.  So many drink from ancient false religions promising a better next life based on this life such as Hinduism and Buddhism.  And so many now drink from the puddle of secularism where it is taught that truth is found inside of you and anyone teaching a truth from outside of you is preaching hate because it contradicts your feelings.  So many thirsty people drink from muddy puddles thinking they have living water but they have been deceived and are drinking to their own eternal doom. 

            You have Living Water flowing from the throne of God to you through the font, the altar and the Word of God.  You have the living water of the Holy Spirit flowing to you from the source, Jesus Christ, whose life, death and resurrection are for you. 

            Jesus gives Living Water to the woman at the well who is ashamed to be around others and then she runs into town to tell those others about Jesus.  Jesus gives Living Water to you, a natural born sinner and gives you faith, and as we learn from Jesus in...  John 7:38 (ESV) 38 Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ ”    The water flowing from Jesus is a spring of water in you that wells up to eternal life. 

You do not drink from a puddle.  You have the Living Water of Jesus; you will never be thirsty again.  Amen