Third Sunday in Lent – The Woman at the Well
March 15, 2020icon-download-pdf-wp

Gospel: John 4:5-26 (27-30, 39-42)
Epistle: Romans 5:1-8
Lesson: Exodus 17:1-7
Psalm: Psalm 95:1-9


CLB Pastors Network – Rev. Bill Helland

“Our Gospel lesson for this Sunday presents somewhat of a challenge for us due to its length. It feels too long to read before the sermon, especially if our audience is standing, but might be effectively communicated in a relatively short, yet powerful, dramatization requiring a minimum number of participants.

The scene at the well is a beautiful glimpse into the marvelous mystery of Jesus being fully man and fully God. As fully man, Jesus became “tired… from the journey” and “sat down by the well.” No doubt he was physically thirsty as well, since he requested a drink from the Samaritan woman. His human nature required rest and refreshment. Yet at the same time, being fully God, he was able to offer to the woman “living water” whereby she would never thirst again spiritually. What she had to offer him could not fully satisfy the thirst of his human nature. What he had to offer her, his divine nature would ensure would not only fully satisfy her spiritual thirst, but would in fact “become…a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” This text is also a wonderful example of the power of God’s Word to create faith in those who will hear it. Jesus called the woman to “believe” and just when it seemed she was about to shrug off everything he had said to her, in saying; “I know the Messiah is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us,” Jesus simply declared, “I who speak to you am he.” From the passages that follow, it appears that the woman must have come to faith in Christ at that point, or at least was very near to salvation, for when inviting her towns people to meet Jesus, she asks out loud; “Could this be the Christ?” But notice verses 39-42… “Many…believed in him because of the woman’s testimony,…” “And because of his words many more became believers.” And last of all, “They said… ‘We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves…’” May these verses encourage us to boldly proclaim the Word of God, for God will work mightily through our testimony to draw people unto himself. May we also encourage our listeners to not simply take our word for it, but to hear God’s Word for themselves, as they read it and study it on their own.”


The Gospel of John

“The religious differences between Jews and Samaritans were serious and deep- rooted. The cleavage between Samaria and Judah in the days of the Hebrew monarchy might have been healed after the Babylonian captivity, but the returning Jewish exiles rejected an offer of cooperation from the Samaritans, whose racial and religious purity they suspected. The resultant hostility was sharpened by the erection of a rival Samaritan temple on Mount Gerizim about 400 BC, and the destruction of this temple by the Hasmonaean ruler John Hyrcanus about 108 BC did nothing to improve relations. And quite apart from inherited animosity, many a Jew would not dream of asking a favour from a Samaritan, for fear of incurring ritual defilement. This scruple would be intensified when the Samaritan was a woman, for there must have been a considerable number of Jews who held the view which acquired the status of religious law a generation or two later, that all Samaritan women must be assumed to be in a perpetual state of ceremonial uncleanness. This Samaritan woman’s surprise was natural.”

Bruce, F.F., The Gospel of John. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1983.


The NIV Application Commentary – John

“The root problem is our fallen capacity to receive and accept things from God. We will accept gifts that benefit us directly, that heal us or profit us; but a divine revelation, a divine sign, discloses who we are and who God really is. Divine signs, like light, are painful since they disclose everything hidden in the dark.”

Burge, G.M., The NIV Application Commentary – John. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing, 1991.


Luther’s Works – Volume 22
(Luther discussing the Christian’s role in preaching the Word and the woman at the well)

“When God wants to speak and deal with us, He does not avail Himself of an angel but of parents, of the pastor, or of my neighbor. This puzzles and blinds me so that I fail to recognize God, who is conversing with me through the person of the pastor or father. This prompts the Lord Christ to say in the text: ‘If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ then I would not be obliged to run after you and beg for a drink. You would run after Me and ask Me for the living water. But since you do not know the gift and do not recognize Him who is speaking with you, you despise Me.’ Even if Christ did no more than greet us; … it would be honor and treasure enough. He has another treasure in store for us, however, which He reveals when He brings us forgiveness of sin and redemption from death, devil, and hell, when He transforms us into heavenly people and illumines our hearts. We can never express the value of this treasure adequately. We shall always fall short of recognizing it fully and of esteeming it as we really and truly should.

We should mark well that this is spoken to us too. If we recognized this gift, we would receive water in which the Holy Spirit is given to us. By God’s grace we have at least begun to recognize God’s gift and the Teacher… However, thus far we have received only the first fruits and not the tithe. It is just beginning to dawn on us that God’s speaking to us is an inexpressibly precious gift and that we are honored to be God’s pupils and disciples. This is what is meant by knowing the nature of the gift… We and our hearers are just beginning to recognize that it is not a man we are listening to, but that it is God who is telling us things that contain an everlasting treasure.”

Luther, M., Luther’s Works: Volume 22. St. Louis, MO: Concordia Publishing House, 1956.


Fourth Sunday in Lent
Second Sunday in Lent