EXODUS 17:1-7

THE BACKGROUND

This is part of the story of Moses leading the people through the desert to the Promised Land.  If you’ve ever been to a desert, you know that it is not only dry but barren.  There is nothing to eat or drink.  It is hot. It is easy to die in the desert. That’s what God’s People are faced with in today’s reading.

THE DETAIL

  • The Israelites are traveling in stages across the desert.  The finally reach an encampment.  Maybe it is an oasis, but there is no water.  (v. 1)
  • They are not happy. They are thirsty.  They go to their leader, and complain.  Moses says “why me?  I’m not the one to complain to, but God.  Do you want to complain to God?”  (v. 2)
  • But they still complain to Moses.  (v. 3)
  • Moses prays to God, and God answers with some specific instructions.  Moses follows the instructions, and water springs forth out of the rock!  (vv. 4-6)
  • Moses is so relieved that he names this place “quarreled” and “tested”.

THE TAKEAWAY

Oftentimes, God allows us to work ourselves into a predicament.  It’s OK to complain, even to complain to God.  Just have faith in God to answer your prayers.

 

ROMANS 5:1-11

THE BACKGROUND

In the past several second readings, we have been studying Romans 3-4.  We have learned that our salvation does not come by doing good things. We cannot earn our way into heaven. But the good news from these chapters is that our salvation is a free gift, bestowed on us from God.  All we need to do to get this gift is to believe that Jesus is God’s son, the Messiah.  Chapter 5 is Paul’s conclusion to this whole discourse.

THE DETAIL

  • Because we are saved by our faith, we have peace with God.  (v. 1)
  • We now have access to God’s grace—to His love.  This is what we can brag about to others.  (v. 2)
  • Here’s where it gets interesting.  We can also brag about the suffering that may come with our faith in Jesus.  This is because our suffering eventually ends up in the hope that the Holy Spirit pours out on us.  (vv. 3-5)
  • Jesus died on the cross for us while we were still sinful beings.  He knew what we are like, because he was human and lived among us. Yet, he still died for us to prove God’s love for us.  (vv. 6-8)
  • Since Jesus shed his blood for us, he has saved us from God’s wrath.  That’s where we would have found ourselves, based purely on our sinful nature.  (v. 9)
  • So, through Jesus’ death on the cross, we have been reconciled with God.  So if we’re going to brag about anything that has to do with our faith-walk, it has to be that we brag about what God has done for us, not what we have done for God.  (vv. 10-11)

 

THE TAKEAWAY

“Reconciliation” is a big word.  This is how I understand it.  When I get a statement from my bank about my checking account balance, it is always cause for concern.  Their balance NEVER matches mine!  There are always those checks that haven’t been cashed by someone.  There might also be a recent deposit that happened after the mailed the statement.  But there are other reasons.  Sometimes I have made a subtraction error, or written down the check amount incorrectly. There is always a difference between their statement and mine.  I need to reconcile my account. 

Our relationship with God can be boiled down into two parts:  His expectations and our actions.  We will always fall short of God’s expectations, because of our sinful nature.  There is always a shortfall; always a gap.  Jesus’ death on the cross reconciles our “account” with God.  God not only forgives our sins, but He forgets them!  Thank you, Jesus!

 

JOHN 4: 5-42

THE BACKGROUND

This is a very long story! But it is the familiar story of Jesus meeting the woman at the well.  To understand this story to it’s fullest, we need to understand some important facts.

SAMARITANS      lived in the area north of Galilee.  Jews shunned the Samaritans.  They avoided them like the plague.  In fact, to get from Judea to Galilee as Jesus was doing, most Jews would take the longer route.  They didn’t want to be anywhere near the Samaritans.

WOMEN were not equal to men by a long shot.  In fact, a good Jewish man should avoid talking to strange women, especially when alone.

THE DETAIL

  • Jesus finds himself outside a Samaritan city, by Jacob’s well.  He is hot, tired, and thirsty.  His disciples went into the city to buy some food, so he was alone when a Samaritan woman appears.  He “asks” her to draw him some water from the well.  (vv. 4-8)
  • The woman basically asks Jesus “What’s wrong with you?  I’m a Samaritan woman, and you’re a Jewish man!”  (v. 9)
  • Jesus is no longer thirsty for water, but for a spiritual discussion!  (v. 10)
  • She doesn’t get it at first.  She says that how’s he going to get this “living” water—he doesn’t even have a bucket! (v. 11)
  • Jesus is, of course, speaking of spiritual matters, just as he was last week with Nicodemus. (vv. 12-15)
  • Jesus changes the subject.  He asks her to get her husband, knowing the type of person she really is.  She is shocked that he knows her life story, even though they have never met.  She realizes that she is a holy man.  (vv. 16-19)
  • Now, SHE changes the subject!  She has a question.  Jews worship on the hill in Jerusalem, but the Samaritans worship God on “this” mountain (Mt. Gerizim).  Which is correct?  Jesus says that soon, neither place will matter.  What will matter is worshiping God in spirit and truth.  (vv. 20-24)
  • She goes further, mentioning the promised Messiah.  (The Samaritans’ expectations of the Messiah were different than what the Jews expected.)  Jesus told her that he was the Messiah (of the Jews and the Samaritans).  (vv. 25-26)
  • At this point in the narrative, there are two threads.  One in the interaction with the disciples, who have returned with food. The other is the woman’s reaction, and the reaction of the townsfolk. 

THE DISCIPLES

  • They want to know why Jesus was speaking to a woman.  (Let alone a Samaritan woman.)  But they don’t have the courage to ask him.  (v. 27)
  • They want him to eat, but he is high on the Holy Spirit [my assumption].  He says that his food is to do the Father’s will.  (vv. 30-34)
  • He goes on to tell them that it is time to harvest [souls].  (vv. 35-38)

THE WOMAN’S TESTIMONY AND ITS RESULTS

  • Many Samaritans come to Jesus because of the woman’s testimony.  They beg him to stay and teach them.  They proclaim that he is “truly the Savior of the world”.  (vv. 39-42)

 TAKEAWAY

In the verse right before today’s gospel reading it states that “Jesus had to go through Samaria”.  We know that most Jews chose a longer route to get to Galilee, just to avoid Samaria.  But Jesus had to go.  He wanted to proclaim the good news to everyone; proclaim it to even the despised Samaritans and to a disreputable Samaritan woman. The good news for us is that Jesus came for the whole world, even people like you and me. 

And, since we are his disciples, it is also our job to join in the “harvest”, to bring many to share in God’s loving grace and free forgiveness.