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Eternal Life and Living Water

Youth Sunday
May 6, 2012, 9:00 am & 11:15 am
Fifth Sunday in Easter
Martha Hobson

John 3:1-17; Psalm 23; John 4:1-26;

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“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not perish but may have eternal life.” I bet you all have heard that once or twice. One of our great religious leaders, Martin Luther, said that John 3:16 was “the Gospel in miniature,” meaning the whole Gospel is summarized in this verse. But many of us don’t really take the time to think about this in great depth. I know I haven’t–not until I started writing this sermon. I’ve loved this verse for a long time, ever since I was 8 and Fred asked me to say it during the Lessons and Carols service one Christmas morning. I can understand what Martin Luther was talking about.

While John 3:16 is a very important part of the lessons this morning, there is much more we can learn. In our scripture lessons today, Jesus talks with two people, Nicodemus and the Samaritan woman, about God’s love.

In the third chapter of John, Nicodemus, a Pharisee, comes to Jesus. He had heard about Jesus teaching and is curious. He wants to learn more about this man. Nicodemus comes to visit Jesus at night. In those days it was common for Jews to gather at night to have lengthy discussions full of debate about Jewish law and teachings. But I also wonder if Nicodemus, a well-respected leader in the community, was possibly embarrassed to be seen with Jesus, a controversial figure in the eyes of many Jewish leaders.

I found it interesting that Nicodemus is a teacher, but in this passage, he becomes the student. He comes to Jesus and says that he knows Jesus is a teacher who came from God, because no one else can perform the signs Jesus does without the presence of God. While he accepts the fact that Jesus comes from God, he still has a difficult time understanding Jesus’ teachings. Nicodemus is confused when Jesus tells him that a person must be born again. He can’t understand how an adult comes from a woman’s womb! I can’t either! He doesn’t understand that Jesus is talking about a spiritual birth, not a physical birth.

Even though Nicodemus didn’t understand what Jesus was telling him, he was still eager to learn. Many Pharisees didn’t believe Jesus was the Messiah. I found it interesting that Nicodemus was interested in Jesus, when many others weren’t.

In John Chapter 4, Jesus is passing through Samaria when he comes upon a woman getting water from the well. He tells her to give him a drink, but she is confused because someone like Jesus would not normally ask her to serve him. As you might have heard, Jews did not consider Samaritans their equals. She is surprised by the fact that Jesus would even talk with her. Jesus is including a woman in his life who is not his equal, has been married 5 times, and is presently living with a man who is not her husband (which was inappropriate in that time). When she questions him about asking her for a drink, Jesus uses her question to begin to teach her about living water. Just like Nicodemus, the Samaritan woman has a hard time understanding. She doesn’t know what living water is. She thinks she can literally quench her thirst if she can drink this living water.

Don’t you think it is interesting that Jesus took the time to speak to that Samaritan woman? We know that, in that time, women weren’t as respected as men, especially not Samaritan women.

In these two passages, Jesus is speaking to two different people: Nicodemus, who is a well-respected religious leader, and the Samaritan woman, a religious outsider. Nicodemus is well known and the Samaritan woman is anonymous. He has power and she has none. Jesus does not fully reveal himself to Nicodemus, although, while talking with the Samaritan woman, he explains himself to her and reveals that he is the messiah. Even though they are so different, Jesus and God believe they are special and Jesus takes the time to speak to them, revealing that he is the messiah.                                                                                                                                       

I’m sure you can see that Jesus is not picking and choosing people to be the people of God. Christ will bring people to himself despite nationality, gender, ethnicity or status. He wants everyone. God loves everyone.

When I look at these passages, I realize that God loves us and he gave us his son to save us. By sending Jesus as the messiah for all, Jesus explains to Nicodemus and the Samaritan woman that God is offering us eternal life and living water.

God sent down Jesus to explain how you should worship and love God. Prior to meeting Jesus, Nicodemus believed worship was very planned, and the Samaritan woman believed you could only worship on the Mountain. Both Nicodemus and the Samaritan woman believe the tradition of their worship was most the important part of their belief. But Jesus says that worshiping God comes from Jesus being in your spirit.

Life with God, for me, is going to church every Sunday, and praying before dinner.

Life with God is loving him, even though people may sneer and laugh at your belief.

My life with God is loving and praising him, and I’m going to love and praise him for the rest of my life.

If we are open to God, we can receive living water and eternal life.

 

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