Justified

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Exodus 17:1-7
Romans 5:1-11
John 4:5-42
Psalm 95

Have you noticed that every time Jesus moves out of Jewish territory, he has one of his best ministry moments?  This time it is a Samaritan woman drawing water from Jacobs well.

The fact that the woman is at that well at midday tells us more about her than she might have wanted us to know.  She lived in Sychar, a half mile away.  Sychar had a dependable well used daily by the women of the village, generally morning and evening.   Yet, she walked the half mile for water about noon.  Now we know the other women would not let her use the well in Sychar, not even at midday.

In her conversation with Jesus, we learn the reason is her many husbands, the current one being without benefit of marriage.  No Pharisee would have allowed himself within shouting distance of such a woman.  Even the fishermen who followed Jesus would have avoided her a year earlier.  Knowing she was at this well at this time because she was shunned gave Jesus reason to speak to her.  Do not forget that Jewish men, Pharisee or not, would never talk to an unknown woman in public.  A Pharisee would not talk to his own wife in public.

Clearly, this story comes to us from Jesus who had to have told his disciples about the visit.  He wanted his followers, then and now, to know that no one is out of bounds where the Holy Spirit is concerned.

In that context, we read the Exodus story of baptism.  God’s chosen people are in the desert dying of thirst.  They grumble, complain, and threaten Moses.  He complains to God.  God gives him directions that he follows, giving the people plenty of water.  The people are baptized with water even as they are angry and quarreling.  The baptism of the Holy Spirit will have to wait.

Like the Twelve Apostles, the chosen people were slow to understand and were spoon fed and led around like sheep.  But they were God’s people.

Psalm 95 has the last word.  Today if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did at Meribah, as you did that day at Massah in the desert, where your fathers tested and tried me, though they had seen what I did.

Be righteous and do good.

Mike Lawrence

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