March 8, 2020
Pastor Gunnar Ledermann
5 So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6 Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon.
7 When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” 8 (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)
9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)
10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”
11 “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?”
13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”
16 He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”
17 “I have no husband,” she replied.
Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. 18 The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”
19 “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. 20 Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”
21 “Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”
25 The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”
26 Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.”John 4:5-26
Many are stocking up on water bottles because of the coronavirus. The virus has gone viral in every sense as the world lives in fear that this virus will spread unchecked causing massive death tolls because there is no vaccine. Although the reports show that the virus can go almost unnoticed in many because the symptoms do not become severe, there is still a lot of media coverage and campaigns to encourage people to wash their hands, not shake hands, cover nose and mouth when coughing, stay home when sick, and see a doctor if any flulike symptoms develop or grow worse. Really, these are all things to do regarding any strain of the flu and sickness in general. There is a lot of fear right now over the coronavirus, even though there are also many other sicknesses that kill far more people per year than the coronavirus has. In this case though, the lack of a vaccine has played a large role in the fear surrounding its spread. Many then are stocking up on bottled water, so that they will be ready to wait out the spread of the coronavirus in their homes should it come to that. Now, I know that I could stay alive on bottled water and beef jerky for a long time at home, and actually be quite happy, but at some point, that is not really living. At some point, you can only watch reruns of your favorite shows for so long and unless Amazon can get a robot army assembled to replace humans to deliver bottled water and beef jerky to our homes, we can’t all stay behind locked doors forever.
The not yet treatable coronavirus has many living in fear. The widespread fear surrounding this virus is powerful, but it is also no way to live. Living in fear of having contact with other human beings is not really living. You and I need to get out, work, play and interact others. In order to get over our fear so that we can live, we need to get rid of what is making us afraid. Now, obviously there are lots of scientists worldwide working on a way to vaccinate for the coronavirus, but that is not exactly what is causing all of us to be afraid. What really makes you and I afraid of the coronavirus is death. You and I are afraid that if we catch the coronavirus we will die. We are also afraid that if the virus spreads, our kids, parents, loved ones, friends, our nation’s workforce, and a significant percentage of the world population will face death. We fear the global economy will suffer a long-lasting decline, while at the same time we are afraid of leaving a single spouse to raise kids alone or leaving debt for our kids or spouse to deal with if we die. It’s all the things that the coronavirus threatens to take from us in death that fill us with fear. In some respects, this is the true power of the virus; it exposes us to what we are afraid to lose and not be able to get back.
You and I do not like it when our fears are exposed. We like to live in safety. We like to go to the store and buy the “#blessed t-shirt.” The woman from our gospel reading from John 4, wanted to live in safety too, and she thought she was until she met Jesus. The Samaritan woman who met Jesus when she came to get her usual jar of water from the well did not realize how much she had to lose. She had come for a jar of water, but Jesus told her that he could give her, 14… “a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” Now, that sounded better to her than coming out over and over again to get water from the well, but when she asked for it, 16 He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.” 17 “I have no husband,” she replied. Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. 18 The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.” 19 “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet.” When Jesus opened her eyes to see that he was more than a random person she met while getting water, everything for this woman changed.
For the Samaritan woman, replacing what was lost was a constant battle. She had replaced five husbands, and the man she was with was not her husband. The day she met Jesus she was out at the well again because the water they depended on had run out. The woman’s life was at least in part motivated by the fear of being alone and unable to survive on her own and not having the water she depended on for sustenance. Today, the fear of death is driving the world to find a cure to the coronavirus, but that will not take away your fear of death or your fear of others dying. Your fear will shift to something else that threatens life like cancer, old age or even running out of water. Your constant battle against the fear of losing something will continue unless a cure is found.
The cure for our fear is found in Jesus. When Jesus first met the woman at the well, he said, 10… “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” Jesus met this woman so that she would see that Jesus has the power to give life. Jesus has the power to take away our fear of losing life. This promise of Jesus cannot be matched by anyone or anything else. It has the power to drive fear from our hearts and replace it with faith.
When faith replace fear in your heart, then life truly begins. Life truly begins when faith in Jesus replaces the fear of death because the life Jesus gave you is real. Faith in Jesus is not just a slogan for a t-shirt or encouraging group of people, although those are wonderful expressions and results from our faith, but Jesus is a real source of eternal life for us. Our sins separated us from God leaving us facing death and then eternity in hell. To save us from that horrible fate, Jesus placed himself between us and God, dying for us and rising from the grave to show that he is the cure. It was that power of God that worked in Abraham’s heart to trust in God when he promised him something that sounded impossible. In our reading from Genesis 12, God asked a seventy-five-year-old man to move to a new place with his barren wife and nephew. On top of that, God said, 2 “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” When God promised Abraham all of this, the fear of the unknown filled his heart, but God allowed him to trust by faith. And, God made good on his promise to Abraham giving him a son and from his offspring then the whole nation of Israel. More than that though, the Savior Jesus came from Abraham’s offspring. Whatever fear was in Abraham was cured by faith in God who has the power of life even when all seems lost.
For the woman at the well all would have been lost if Jesus had not come to her that day. When Jesus spoke with her and opened her eyes to see him as a prophet, he gave her faith to replace fear, death, all she had lost and was trying to hold on to that would never last. Jesus told her, 23 “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” 25 The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.” 26 Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.” It is not clear if the Samaritan woman had faith before Jesus spoke with her or just had common knowledge of the promised Savior. Either way, Jesus had now shown her who he was and filled her with faith in him as the giver of everlasting life. She no longer needed to fear losing anything because she had everything with faith in Jesus, the giver of everlasting life.
God’s gift of faith to you replaces the fear in your heart. You are bombarded by so many problems that seem uncurable in your life and you are constantly encouraged to be busy solving them. All of that takes your eyes off of Jesus and what he has given to you that cannot be lost. Eternal life through Jesus cannot be lost because he is the living water. He has the power of life in him because he is God. And nothing can take the power away from God to give life as we heard in our reading from Romans 4, he is 17 … “the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not.” What you fear losing is safe with Jesus. No matter what you die from you have eternal life in Jesus. He is also the cure for your kids, parents, loved ones, friends, nation’s workforce, and the world population who face death. Even if the global economy suffers a long-lasting decline, God says in Matthew 6, 19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Whatever you have here will not last, but your hope and life in heaven will last. And, even if you are taken early leaving a single spouse to raise kids alone or leaving debt for our kids or spouse to deal with. God says in Psalm 121, 3 … “he who watches over you will not slumber; 4 indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.” Your spouse and your kids are never alone because God does not leave them and is always caring for them.
Water bottles run out, but Jesus is a spring of living water. The true power of Jesus is his gift to you of eternal life. You may lose sight of it, but for every fear of losing something, you are thirsty for Jesus and he does cure your thirst. Amen.