Sermon: Lent 3.A

Text: John 4:5-30, 39-42
Date: 2011.3.27
Listen to the sermon here.
The true worshipers will worship the Father
in Spirit and in Truth.

In the Name of the Father and of the +Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Jesus said, “But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth”

True worship is worshiping the Father in Spirit and Truth. True worship therefore is Trinitarian, worshiping God, the Father, the Son (who's called Truth here, for He is the Way, the Truth and the Life); the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; the Holy Trinity.

Worshiping the Holy Trinity makes you holy. The Spirit is the Holy Spirit, and if you worship in Him, then you will be holy as He is holy. You will be flowing with holy water, (as Jesus pictures it) Spirit water, living water. Not just containing the living water but it will be bubbling over, springing over into the eternal life.

So: / worshiping in God, water is involved, the Trinity is involved, eternal life is bestowed: what does this sound like? / Baptism. In other words, true worship is baptism worship. It is connecting you to Christ and His death on the cross. It is connecting you to what was earned on the cross: forgiveness.

So true worship, baptism worship is receiving what baptism gives: forgiveness.

This, the woman at the well did not know, did not have. Neither did her people, for they were worshiping something that they did not know (whatever that was), they were NOT worshiping God, the Triune God in Spirit and Truth. If they had been worshiping the Triune God in Spirit and Truth, then the Spirit would have told them what they were worshiping. / God does not hide. He does play games with us. God reveals Himself, and He is revealed to the true worshipers, the baptized.

What compassion our Lord has on us! The woman was clueless, she was blind, she couldn't even recognize God, who was sitting right there in front of her.

And God seemed kind of rude, didn't he? Three Greek words Δός μοι πεῖν, “Give to me to drink,” and then calling her simply: “woman.” Yet she didn't seem offended, although it doesn't appear that she ever did gave Him anything to drink. But that's alright, Jesus returns the favor. When she finally commands Him, “Lord, give to me this [living] water,” He replies not by giving her the water immediately, but by showing her her sin, saying, “Go, call your husband and come here.” Then she answered and said to Him, “I do not have a husband.” Jesus said to her, “You said well 'I do not have a husband,' for you had five husbands and the one you have now is not your husband. This you have said truthfully.”

Who knows, maybe she did get Him some water during the conversation. Either way Jesus wasn't there to be served, He didn't come to earth to be served, but to serve. And so He did. He baptized her, leading her in the true worship. This He did simply / by His Word, just like you were baptized by water and the Word.

First, she had to die to her old life, for the new, living water is not for those who will remain in their old life of opposition and hostility toward God by sinning. / Kind of like in the Garden of Eden when, after being infected with evil by sinning by disobeying God, God had to shut corrupted mankind out of the Garden because if we would eat of the Tree of Life, we would live forever corrupted. So man must go through death, like a purifying fire, in order to be fully rid of the old sinful nature. / The Man, Jesus, did go through death, and your baptism makes His death, your death. / What compassion our Lord has toward us!

It's no wonder then that Jesus had to kill that old life in that 'woman at the well'. And she didn't like it too much; she tried to change the subject, actually. It's just like us humans, isn't it? We're all the same, we don't like speaking of our sin, at least not at first. “Sin must be kept private,” we think. Repent, because if sin is kept private, it will privately usher you into the hell-fire. You must learn to hate your sins and learn the proper way of disposing of them: by making them known to God. When you learn, and I mean really learn, really know and experience what it is like to get rid of sin, any particular sin or all your sins, whatever the case, when you experience forgiveness, / confessing your sin will be a delight; an absolute joy; and you will savor every opportunity to do so, whether that be in your daily prayers, or here at the Divine Service, or even to those whom you realize you have sinned against throughout your day. / Receiving forgiveness nurtures the love of forgiveness, and God loves to forgive.

He forgave that woman, and she became a Christian. God spoke, / saying to her: “believe in Me, woman.” And so she did. God's Word created the reality. She was converted, and her life after conversion bore the fruit of faith: / she became a witness to Christ Jesus. We are told that she immediately went into the village and began to point her own people to Jesus, and they too believed.

That's what baptism does; and that's what baptismal worship continues to do to and for us: it makes us a witness of the mysteries, opening our eyes and hearts and souls to Jesus so we too may point our own people, our family and friends, point them to Jesus, that they too may believe and worship with us in Spirit and Truth.
In Spirit and Truth. That is how we worship here at St John's. We, the baptized, gather together and receive Jesus. The Holy Spirit is here among us powerfully; the Pentecostals and other fanatics of today or times past have nothing on us in terms of the presence of the Holy Spirit. How do we know? What is the proof of the Holy Spirit's work here?

Well, what is the main duty of the Holy Spirit? To come rushing in like a wind and cause us to speak incoherently, like the fanatics believe and practice? No, for Jesus Himself, the One who sent the Spirit, declares, “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify Me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.” The Spirit will reveal Jesus to us. And what is our worship all about, but Jesus! Jesus, Jesus, only Jesus! By this we know that we worship in Spirit and in Truth: because our worship is receiving Jesus.

And let us continue to do so; let us continue to receive Jesus richer and richer, thicker and thicker, more today than yesterday, more tomorrow than today; as St Paul declares, “let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly.” And how is this done, enriching our Jesus worship? Well, as St Paul says in another place “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” Proclaim the Lord's death: kind of like the woman did. “Proclaim the Lord's death until He comes”: and He is coming quickly, so let us act now, let us resolve among ourselves now to receive Jesus more. Let us commune together more often, even daily, as the early church did in Acts. Let us read Jesus' Word more often, here and in our homes.

Let us submit to Christ, our Head, as He declared to St John at the end of Revelation, these incredibly powerful Words, “The Spirit and the Bride say, "Come." And let the one who hears say, "Come." And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.”

How gracious is our God! Let us take more graciously, for His fountain of forgiveness is without price and without end, for it springs up, even among us, and on into the ages of ages, Amen.

Blessed be God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. O come, let us worship Him.

In +Jesus' name. Amen. 

[Artwork by Ed Riojas]

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