The Odd Ones in God's Mission
Third Sunday in Lent
Jesus said to her, "Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 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 worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these 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 (who is called Christ). When he comes, he will proclaim all things to us." Jesus said to her, "I am he, the one who is speaking to you."
When God chooses people to use for mission, the human mind cannot even begin to understand. For this day's Lenten reflection, I refer to two texts that refer to water. Water is vital to our lives.
In Exodus 17:1-7, the Israelites were tormented by thirst. Forgetting the wonderful miracles Moses had performed as their leader, they asked, "Why did you bring us out of Egypt?" All of a sudden, he became the odd one among the whole nation of the Israelites. Moses did not forget that he was on God's mission. "How am I to deal with this people?" he asked. He knew whom to consult when faced with difficult circumstances.
In my culture, which originates from the northeast of Zimbabwe, water is used to show hospitality to visitors. When guests arrive they do not have to ask for a drink of water. The first thing the host does is bring some water to the guest. The guest will either drink the water or just take a sip if he or she is not thirsty. When a bride is newly married, she and her bridesmaids wake up before dawn to warm up water to give to the in-laws so that they can either take a wash or a bath. If this is not done she'll become the talk of the village and be regarded as a misfit.
In John 4:5-42, we encounter Jesus with the Samaritan woman in conversation at Jacob's well. At this well Samaritans fetched their water during the cool hours of the day. Their animals were watered there as well.
In my culture, a well is usually a communal meeting place for women and girls. They talk about what is happening around them. If a woman were regarded to be of a questionable character, she would feel unwelcome. It was odd that this woman fetched her water during the heat of the day. Jesus, being tired and weary, asked the woman for a drink. Amazed, the Samaritan woman said, "What? You are a Jew and you ask me, a Samaritan, for a drink?" As the conversation unfolds, Jesus in John 4:14 mentioned to her, "But those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up into eternal life." She asked for the living water so that she would not have to keep coming to the well at such an odd time.
The moment of truth came when she revealed that she had no husband and Jesus in turn showed her that he knew more about her than she shared. She exclaimed, "Sir, I see that you are a prophet." Jesus revealed himself to her, and she left her water pot and ran back to the city to proclaim her findings. In verse 29 we read, "Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever I done! He cannot be the Messiah, can he?" I believe the spring of living water was already within her. She could not wait to share the word with everyone in the city!
Moses knew that he was on a mission set for him by God. Even though the Israelites gave him a hard time, the people he led needed water to quench their thirst. He knew where to go for help. Moses knew God could do the impossible and was there for him. The Samaritan woman was so excited to share the good news about Christ that she left her water pot to share the news in the city. What gave her the courage to do such an unimaginable thing in her situation?
When Christ is in one, all things are possible. Just like Paul says in Philippians 4:13, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me." Moses was strengthened by God to provide water that quenches physiological thirst. Jesus can give us all living water that will continually spring up into everlasting life.
Through the Samaritan woman's testimony many believed. Testimony can be used as a powerful tool to bring others to Christ. John 4:41 states, "And many more believed because of his word." During this lent season, let us be reminded of what God did and continues to do for us through Jesus Christ. The one and only odd one!
Dear God, grant unto us this living water that will make us worship you in spirit and in truth. Amen.