For God So Loved Her, Part 1
The following posts are adapted from a sermon I preached in Ona few weeks ago.
There is a woman John writes about in his gospel (chapter 4) who had a story to tell. I love her story – I wish we knew her name, but she has a great story.Think about the story of the woman at the well. Maybe I shouldn’t have favorite scriptures – but I do, and this is one of them. This is a great story – full of depth and meaning for us. I’m grateful John told it, and I’m grateful we can examine it today.
It’s important, don’t you think, that before we attempt to apply a scripture to our lives, that we look at it closely. Where does it sit in the Bible as a whole? Who are the people in the passage? What does that say about the message? I want to start with questions like those, because as I was preparing for today, the answers to those questions were ah ha moments for me.
John 4 – amazingly enough – is just after John 3. Did you talk about it last week? We did in my church because it was one of the lectionary readings for last Sunday. In it, Nicodemos, a Pharisee, comes in the middle of the night to ask Jesus the questions that had been on his mind. Remember the story? Remember the verse that comes near the end? John 3:16 is one of the most famous verses in the Bible – "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.” Is it only coincidence that this story about this nameless woman follows the story about Nicodemous? I don’t think the writer of the Gospel of John does anything without a purpose – it’s a very well crafted Gospel. In fact, if you look at the two stories, they mirror each other in many ways. William Barclay, who wrote some great biblical commentaries in the last century, wrote that in the story of the Samaritan woman at the well, we see “God so loving the world, not in theory but in action.” In the 3rd chapter of John we hear Jesus talking about the love of God; in John 4, we see him demonstrating it.
Not only does God so love the world – God so loves this woman.