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BETHLEHEM LUTHERAN CHURCH: | Mason City, Iowa USA | Pastor Mark Lavrenz

Mar 19, 2017  SERMON ARCHIVE

Sunday Sermon - Pastor Lavrenz Stained Glass - Communion

Grace, mercy, and peace to you from God our heavenly father, and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, AMEN

The text for our meditation today is the Gospel Lesson for the 3rd Sunday in Lent, John 4:5-26. There we read these words:

So he came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the field that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 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. A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, "Give me a drink." (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.) 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.) 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." 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? Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock." 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." 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." Jesus said to her, "Go, call your husband, and come here." The woman answered him, "I have no husband." Jesus said to her, "You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true." The woman said to him, "Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship." Jesus said to her, "Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 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. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth." 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." Jesus said to her, "I who speak to you am he."

We begin in the name of Jesus. Amen

During my years in youth group following my confirmation, I participated several times in what was named a "Servant Meal." In this meal, no one was allowed to serve him or herself. You had to rely on someone else, and they had to rely on you. You could not ask to be served. You could only offer your service to another. Of course, there was a loop-hole.

If you wanted something to drink, you could turn to your neighbor and say: "May I pour you a drink?" "Why, yes, thank you," says your neighbor; and so you do. But you are still thirsty, as your neighbor hasn’t returned the favor. So, you look at his or her freshly filled glass and repeat: "May I get you something to drink?" And, of course, your offering to give is, in fact, a request to receive.

In this text before us this morning, Jesus does exactly the opposite. He asks in order that He might give. We read that Jesus came to a well at noon and asked a Samaritan woman, who had come to draw water: "Will you give me a drink?" It is a surprising question at the very least, for Jews did not associate with Samaritans.

And yet, here is Jesus; begging water from a woman. Here is Jesus being humble. Here is the Son of God turning to another person for a drink. The situation should be enough to raise your curiosity: How can Jesus look to ME to meet His needs? Is He such a helpless soul that He can’t fill a cup Himself?

"If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink," He says, "you would have asked him and he would have given you living water." There it is!

Stained Glass Baptism Window

He asks that He might give. He sits Himself before you as if He depended on your service, on your prayers, on your praise, your offerings. Come, and worship me, He says. Come, and bring your gifts. Fill My House. Its almost as if He couldn’t live without you!

It all seems fairly foolish, doesn’t it? That God should seem so needy. So desperate. It certainly surprised the woman, and it sure surprised our Lord’s disciples. According to the verses just before this morning’s text, Jesus had been baptizing in Judea, though He was doing it through His disciples (John 4:1-2).

Then because the Pharisees got upset, He took His Word and Water northward. To Samaria. To a woman by a well.

And there He had to do the work Himself because the Twelve were too wrapped up in how they thought God works. John tells us that when the disciples came back with lunch: "His disciples . . . were surprised to find him talking with a woman." So, Jesus had to do the work Himself. The Lord Himself had to be dependent. He had to do the inexplicable to get this woman thirsty.

If she only knew the Gift that sat before her, she would beg HIM for a drink. For there before her was a fountain. Not the well of Jacob, but the One who sat beside it. There before her was the Word made flesh and the One from whom water would well up to everlasting life. If this woman only knew, if only she knew...

Dear friends, are you any different? Were the twelve who came and wondered what the Lord was doing any different? If they had known, would they have been so surprised to find Him giving to a woman? If you knew, would you wonder why you come here every week?

Would you question why your parents plead with you to get out of your beds? Would you wonder why your pastor begs you to be faithful; why he urges you to put aside your busy schedules and your children’s homework Wednesday nights and come to hear his preaching? I mean, isn’t it kind of pathetic, the way he acts like his life would end if people do not gather in the pew or at this rail?

Dear friends, If you KNEW the Gift, if you truly understood the gift, would anybody have to beg you? If you really knew the gift your Lord offers, wouldn’t you be all too ready to beg! "Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty again!"

So the woman begged. And so would you. If you knew the Gift before you. If you did not see a normal sinful man in robes standing before you, but instead knew that it was Christ Himself who was baptizing through the pastor just as He did through His disciples.

If you trained yourselves to recognize within your pastor’s preaching that it was not just his words, but rather that it was God through Him who was addressing sinners with forgiveness. If you learned to say, as Martin Luther did: "I saw God Himself baptizing and administering the Sacrament of the Altar, and I heard God preaching the Word." If you knew the Gift, would you not ask, and would your Lord not give it?

Perhaps you think the Gift is God, and so you say: "Oh, pastor, we can have God anywhere. Samaria. Jerusalem. Within our homes. Out in the garden. On the golf course. When I‘m fishing. In fact, I already have God within my heart"

Dear friends, that’s all true. But having God is not the Gift of which Christ speaks. He shows you that this morning when He says: "Go, call your husband and come back." To this, the woman answers: "I have no husband." "You are right," Christ tells her, "when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband."

And this is the ultimate quandary isn’t it? Tell me where the Gift is in having God lay bare your sins? Haven’t you all seen, haven’t you all experienced how sinners cower when the Lord addresses you like that.

"I can see you are a prophet," says the woman. Translated she was saying: "I’m in BIG trouble!" That’s why she tried to change the subject. That’s why she tried to get Him off the track: "Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem." It was much better to talk about theology than about her sin.

At last, the Savior has her where He wants her. Squirming! Thinking she must keep evading what He has to say. Thinking that He’s come to beat her up a little more than she’s been beaten up already! What a surprise He has for her! He tells her everything she ever did, and still that doesn’t matter! He wanted her in His church! He wanted her worshiping upon His mountain. He wanted her bathing in His water, eating from His nail-pierced hands, and drinking from His riven side!

Stained Glass Confirmation Window

You see, she’d had the wrong God all along! Her god had been a god she had to hide from! Her god has been a god she has had to fear.

Suddenly, Jesus showed her what a Gift He is: He is the God who knew her sin and yet wanted her in His kingdom anyway. That’s the God you have! A God who begs and pleads and pokes and prods, not so that He can get a thing or two from you!

Think about it. Did Jesus ever get His drink this morning in the text? The writer doesn’t say! And it doesn’t matter if He did or not. He begs from you that He might give! And give He does.

Dear friends, he gave Himself, for you upon His cross. He gave Himself for you, that you might know for sure that all your sins have been forgiven. That they can’t hurt you anymore so you don’t need to keep them secret.

That’s why this day and every day you can do exactly as the woman in our text. You can confess your sins. In fact, Jesus asks you to. Not because He needs to know them. He knows them all already. He asks from you that He might give. He is the God who, as Paul says in (Rom. 4:17) who "calls things that are not as though they were".

Our Lord is the One who calls you saints though you are sinners. He is the One who calls you holy and forgiven, just if your sins no longer matter. As far as He’s concerned, they don’t. That is what the woman learned. And that is what He begs and pleads that you receive today and always

What a gift you have before you in a God who acts as if He'd die without your water. He pleaded for it beside the well. He begged for it upon His cross: "I thirst." He urges you to fill His house. To meditate upon His Word. To bring your gifts. To say your prayers.

He acts as if He could not live without you. All because He wants to give you living water. Right here in the washing of forgiveness and the hearing of His Word. Right here in the Feast of Jesus’ Body and His Blood. He wants it welling up in you the way it did for that Samaritan. Welling up so that it spills out of your lips to others: "Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did . . . A man who STILL wants me to worship on His mountain!"

Indeed, He does. Jesus wants you to worship Him in spirit and in truth, that is, in faith. Jesus wants you here that you might drink the water that He gives you, that water that gives life because He died, that water that is living because He lives and reigns to all eternity.

Jesus wants you to receive the water that is in your ears and on your heads and in your mouths so that you can give it to one another. That water is the Word of the God who knows your sins and doesn’t let them matter. That living water is the gift of your loving Father, your God who bids you come that He might give.

That living water is the good news that Christ is Risen.


Luther Rose


Christ Is Risen
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