Worship Helps for Lent 2
Christ and the Samaritan Woman
Stefano Erardi (1630-1716)
The Gospel lesson for the 2nd Sunday in Lent is the account of Jesus asking for water at Jacob’s well in Samaria, recorded in John 4:4-26. Stefano Erardi created the painting of “Christ and the Samaritan woman.” Stefano was a French artist in the 17th century whose work was mainly in the Mannerism style. This painting is now at the National Museum of Fine Arts in Malta.
As you focus on the details of the painting, you notice the Samaritan woman’s reaction of surprise as expressed by her hand placed against her chest as though in disbelief. Christ points a finger – not in accusation – but to communicate His innocent request for some water. Though He is the Messiah, He still portrays an expression of humility and compassion for this woman. It is hot in the noonday sun. Christ wishes for her find refreshment by drinking deeply from the water of life He is providing her – not in Jacob’s well, but in Himself and in His words.
Christ offers living water to you in His house of worship. He points His finger at you. He knows who you are and what you have done. But that is why His finger is extended – to invite you to come closer. He speaks to you. You have every right to be afraid, for you know who you and what you have done. But that is why He speaks to you – to draw you closer to Him so He might forgive you.
The world today is much like Samaria – a place of religious confusion. You are very much like a Samaritan woman – your life is a mess, your marriage is falling apart, you are uncomfortable, unhappy, misunderstood … looking for water in the noonday sun.
Too often you choose to quench your thirst in whatever feels right at the time. This may temporarily satisfy you, but the guilt and shame will leave you even thirstier when you are done.
That’s why coming to Jacob’s well in your local church is so vital. It is a place of respite in a world gone mad. It is an oasis in a parched desert. It is refreshment in the blistering heat of the noonday sun.
Each week in church, Jesus is sitting by the well of the baptismal font – the font that He dug with His own death and resurrection and filled with His water of life. Living water that washes you clean of your inborn and daily sins. Jesus is at the communion rail – inviting you to eat and drink once again of His body and blood so that you may have life in Him. Spiritual food and drink that gives you strength to live in this parched and dreary world of sin and death. Jesus is at the altar, the lectern and the pulpit – offering His words of life eternal. You are invited to drink deeply of His living words of forgiveness in the absolution, Gospel, sermon and benediction.
It was no coincidence that Jesus was there at Jacob’s well that day in Samaria. And it is no coincidence that Jesus is in your church. He has come for you. He has come to give you a gift. “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” (John 4:10). Drink deeply of Christ’s Living Water. Stay connected to Him daily, weekly, continually, for life. For this is Living Water in the noonday sun.
Worship Theme: For most of us who have been acquainted with Christian teachings for many years, it’s an easy question. How are we saved? Answer: Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved. But for thousands of years, people didn’t have the knowledge of Jesus Christ. They knew only of a Messiah to come. Nonetheless, their faith was placed in the promise of God to send a Savior, and that faith—a forward-looking faith—was credited to them as the righteousness that God demands to enter heaven.
The gift of God comes by faith to all nations. Not a holy life, not acts of obedience, but simple trust in the promise of God brings the gift of living water for thirsty souls. Abraham believed God’s promise and so became not only the father of a nation, but the forefather of the Promised Seed who would bless all peoples. He had faith in God who justifies the wicked, and so God credited it to him as righteousness. By this same faith, Christ gives righteousness to all who believe and enfolds sinful Samaritans and modern Gentiles like us into the family of God.
Old Testament: Genesis 12:1-8 The LORD had said to Abram, "Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you. 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." 4 So Abram left, as the LORD had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Haran. 5 He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated and the people they had acquired in Haran, and they set out for the land of Canaan, and they arrived there. 6 Abram traveled through the land as far as the site of the great tree of Moreh at Shechem. At that time the Canaanites were in the land. 7 The LORD appeared to Abram and said, "To your offspring I will give this land." So he built an altar there to the LORD, who had appeared to him. 8 From there he went on toward the hills east of Bethel and pitched his tent, with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east. There he built an altar to the LORD and called on the name of the LORD.
1. Hebrews 11:1 defines faith as being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. How is Abram (Abraham) a good example of a faith-filled man? (Compare Hebrews 11:8-19)
2. How did God “appear to Abram”? (verse 7) Why does he not appear visibly to us today?
Epistle: Romans 4:1-5,13-17 What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather, discovered in this matter? 2 If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about-- but not before God. 3 What does the Scripture say? "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness." 4 Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. 5 However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness. … 13 It was not through law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith. 14 For if those who live by law are heirs, faith has no value and the promise is worthless, 15 because law brings wrath. And where there is no law there is no transgression. 16 Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham's offspring-- not only to those who are of the law but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all. 17 As it is written: "I have made you a father of many nations." He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed-- the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were.
3. According to Paul, how was Abraham justified? (Compare Galatians 3:6-9)
4. The promised Seed was intended for the children of Abraham. Are we included?
Gospel: John 4:5-26 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 the sixth hour. 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 flocks and herds?" 13 Jesus answered, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I 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 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 fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem." 21 Jesus declared, "Believe me, woman, 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 spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in 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 who speak to you am he."
5. How was Samaritan woman a recipient of God’s grace?
6. Explain how “salvation is from the Jews”? (Verse 22)
1. If faith is “being certain of what we do not see,” then Abraham is a prime example. He left home at God’s command to go to a destination he didn’t know; he believed without question in the incredible promise of child in his old age through whom the Savior would come; he proceeded unwaveringly when God asked him to sacrifice that very child. Oh, for the faith of Abraham!
2. We’re not sure of the exact appearance, but it seems to be visibly. Today God reveals himself to us in his Word.
3. The Jews taught that Abraham was a model of good works and was justified through them. But Paul is clear that Abraham was justified in God’s sight by faith in God’s promises.
4. While we may not be “blood” descendants of Abraham (ethnic Jews), Scripture says we are all Abraham’s children through faith. The promises given to him are ensured for us.
5. As for all of us, she received God’s grace by faith in the Savior. Her background was as part of a people opposed to Jewish customs, especially those concerning worship, but Jesus tells her that ethnic background nor worship practices make any real difference. It is faith alone in the promised Savior, and Jesus declares, “I am he.”
6. The Jews were God’s chosen people in the Old Testament to be the physical ancestors of the Messiah. It was from their line that the Savior would come.
Putting your faith into action
Have you ever shaken the hand of the president of the United States or a senator or even an important athlete? Most of us have probably had an encounter with someone of some noteworthiness. Do you think that VIP remembers that encounter? I doubt it. Yet look how Jesus reaches out individually to a Samaritan woman who, by her race and culture, would have considered herself Jesus’ enemy. Yet Jesus loved her. He called her to repentance. He took time with her. He accepted her. He dealt with her as an individual. He even knew her life story and knew exactly what she needed. Jesus has exactly the same kind of relationship with us. Yes, he knows our history but he also knows what we need and supplies it. We are baptized into his family. We come to the Lord’s Supper, and he gives us his body and blood to eat and drink and receive the blessing of forgiveness individually. In turn we, like the woman at the well, also invite our friends to come and see the man who knows who we are and what we really need—a relationship with him.
100] For let me tell you this, even though you know it perfectly and be already master in all things, still you are daily in the dominion of the devil, who ceases neither day nor night to steal unawares upon you, to kindle in your heart unbelief and wicked thoughts against the foregoing and all the commandments. Therefore you must always have God's Word in your heart, upon your lips, and in your ears. But where the heart is idle, and the Word does not sound, he breaks in and has done the damage before we are aware. 101] On the other hand, such is the efficacy of the Word, whenever it is seriously contemplated, heard, and used, that it is bound never to be without fruit, but always awakens new understanding, pleasure, and devoutness, and produces a pure heart and pure thoughts. For these words are not inoperative or dead, but creative, living words. 102] And even though no other interest or necessity impel us, yet this ought to urge every one thereunto, because thereby the devil is put to Right and driven away, and, besides, this commandment is fulfilled, and [this exercise in the Word] is more pleasing to God than any work of hypocrisy, however brilliant. – Large Catechism, III Commandment (paragraphs 100-102)
Hymns: 106, 391, 309, 338, 750
1 Come to Calv’ry’s holy mountain, Sinners, ruined by the fall;
Here a pure and healing fountain Flows to you, to me, to all,
In a full, perpetual tide, Opened when our Savior died.
2 Come in poverty and meanness, Come defiled, without, within;
From infection and uncleanness, From the leprosy of sin,
Wash your robes and make them white; You shall walk with God in light.
3 Come in sorrow and contrition, Wounded, paralyzed, and blind;
Here the guilty, free remission, Here the troubled, peace may find.
Health this fountain will restore; He that drinks shall thirst no more.
4 He that drinks shall live forever; ’Tis a soul-renewing flood.
God is faithful; God will never Break his covenant of blood,
Signed when our Redeemer died, Sealed when he was glorified.
Text: James Montgomery, 1771–1854, alt.