If We Only Knew the Gift of God

Source: Orthodox Christian Network

October 17, 2016

So He came to a city of Samaria, called Sychar, near
the field that Jacob gave to his son Joseph. Jacob’s
well was there, and so Jesus, wearied as He was with His
journey, sat down beside the well. It was about the sixth
hour.  There came a woman of Samaria to draw
water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a
drink.”  For His disciples had gone away
into the city to buy food.  The Samaritan woman
said to Him, “How is it that You, a Jew, ask a drink
of me, a woman of Samaria?” For Jews have no
dealings with Samaritans.  Jesus answered her,
“If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is
saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would
have asked Him, and He would have given you living
water.”   John 4:5-10

Let us bow our heads to the Lord.

One of my favorite stories in the Bible is the story of
the woman at the well, told in John 4. This story shows
that Jesus was fully human, as He arrived at a well in the
middle of the day and was thirsty from His journey.
A woman of Samaria was sitting by the well.
Jews and Samaritans were enemies and men didn’t
associate freely with women, so when Jesus asked her for a
drink from the well, He was breaking two social norms of
the time. Naturally, the woman was somewhat suspect and
cynical in her response to His request. After all, how is
it that a Jewish man could ask a drink from a Samaritan
woman?

Jesus answer was not only stunning, but it opened a
dialogue between Him and the woman which led her to become
the first person to share the Gospel with others. She went
and told all the people in her town about Jesus, saying
“Come see a man who told me all that I ever did.
Can this be the Christ?”
(John 4:29)

When people become cynical about the church, or people
disparage the Gospel, Christianity, morality and the
things related to faith and salvation, the answer of
Christ often comes to my mind:If you KNEW the gift of
God and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a
drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have
given you living water.”

When the priest tells us in the Divine Liturgy, Let us
bow our heads to the Lord
, if we really understood
the Lord and the Liturgy, we would not only bow down our
heads, we would lay down prostrate before the Lord. After
all, who is worthy to stand in His presence? Who is worthy
of His forgiveness? Who is worthy to receive Him in the
Eucharist? No one.

And if we really knew the gift of salvation, and the power
of Jesus Christ to save souls and change lives, we
wouldn’t want to leave the church at the end of the
service. We certainly would not come late at the
beginning. We wouldn’t want to miss a Sunday. If we
really knew the gift of salvation offered to us in Holy
Communion, it would really change our behavior, our focus,
our entire life.

So, why doesn’t it work that way? Why isn’t
the Divine Liturgy life-changing every time out? Why
can’t we sustain our focus? The simple answer is,
because we are human and we live in a fallen world. The
life we live is a battle between the spiritual and the
material. If you read the entire account of the woman at
the well, John 4:5-42, you will see this battle in the
dialogue between Jesus and the Samaritan Woman. After
Jesus tells her “If you knew the gift of God,
and who it is that is saying to you, ‘give me a
drink’, you would have asked Him, and He would have
given you living water,”
(John 4:10) she
returns a material response, “where do you get
that living water?”
(John 4:12)

Jesus tells her how “everyone who drinks of this
water will thirst again but whoever drinks of the water
that I shall give him will never thirst.”
(John
4:13-14) The woman thinks of her material convenience and
says to Jesus “Give me this water that I may not
thirst, nor come here to draw.”
(John 4:15) The
dialogue eventually moves from the material to the
spiritual as she eventually says to Jesus “I
perceive you are a prophet”
(John 4:19) and
“I know that Messiah is coming (He who is called
Christ); when He comes, He will show us all
things.”
(John 4:25). And then Jesus reveals
Himself to her: “I who speak to you am
He.”
(John 4:26) After this the woman goes and
become the first “evangelist”, as she spreads
the good news.

To me, this line of the Divine Liturgy reminds me of the
story of the Samaritan Woman. We may hear a command to
“bow our heads to the Lord” and hope to hear a
little bit of the inaudible prayer which follows. To me, I
hear this line as a reminder that we are to bow our heads,
our bodies, our lives to the Lord. We are to learn the
“gift of God” so that we can partake
of the “living water” (the Eucharist)
and have it be life changing, so that it becomes for us
“a spring of water welling up to eternal
life.”
(John 4:14)

Like the Samaritan Woman, we don’t completely know
the gift of God. This is why it is important to stay in
the dialogue—to continue praying, to continue
worshipping, to continue learning—so that like the
Samaritan Woman did eventually, our hearts can be
completely converted to Christ, to living for Him, to
sharing Him with others in our words and deeds.

As we read in James 4:10, “Humble yourselves
before the Lord and He will exalt you.”

O come, let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful
noise to the rock of our salvation! Let us come into His
presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to
Him with songs of praise! For the Lord is a great God, and
a great King above all gods. In His hand are the depths of
the earth; the heights of the mountains are His also. The
sea is His, for He made it; for His hands formed the dry
land. O come, let us worship and bow down, let us kneel
for the Lord, our Maker! For He is our God, and we are the
people His pasture, and the sheep of His hand. O that
today you would hearken to His voice! (Psalm 95: 1-7)

Bow down in prayer to the Lord today!

+Fr. Stavros

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