God took his people out of Egypt but not Egypt out of them – ThirdSunday in Lent – Exodus17:1-7/ John 4:5-42

The first reading has so much meat on the bone that you won’t miss the tidbits. So let us place the text in context. The ‘children’ of Israel (to be taken affectionately but in this case literally because of their behaviour) have seen the mighty plagues that delivered them out of, when in Egypt. Having crossed the Red Sea in chapters 14 and 15 they enter the wilderness of Shur (15:22) and it is here that their complaining begins.

While Google Maps did not exist at the time of Moses, common sense did! Common sense coupled with tribal chatter should have been enlightening enough to make people entering the wilderness expect the reality of a desert. But while God took the Israelites out of Egypt, they refused to take Egypt out of themselves. We know that they hankered for the fleshpots of Egypt which in reality could have only been starvation and hard labour, all of this wrapped in slavery.

Their first encounter in the desert was the bitter water at Marah which God sweetened for them with a ‘piece of wood’ that Moses threw into the well. In another age, God would give us the ‘wood of the cross’ to sweeten the bitterness of our lives. But does God’s saving action make us grateful?

Having got sweet water, the people complain about food in the ‘wilderness of Sin.’ This time God rained down bread from heaven. But it is at Rephidim, which means rest, that the children of Israel begin their unrest again. Now at Massa and Meribah God gives them water from the rock.

I did mention earlier that there is much meat on this bone for us to enjoy, so let us begin.

1. Have you asked yourself, “can I trust God?” This is an important question when you decide to break away from your slave master (who could even be your boss at work) and step into new unchartered inhabited and hostile territory. If you want to answer that question don’t look to God but look into your past. Has God let you down in the past? It is more likely that you let him down. Our lives are a living testimony to a God who has come through for us and yet even when our throat is slightly parched, we feel compelled to bring God’s deliverance into question.

2. Moses is more than a leader he is a leader par excellence especially when you have to lead a tribe of constant grumblers whose ingratitude almost brought Moses to death (the text of today tells us they wanted to stone him). The leadership of Moses is not the result of attending a Christian leadership seminar but rather his dependency on God. When faced with a problem he went to God. “How do I deal with these people?” he asks God. You may feel the need to talk to a counsellor but a counsellor may help you to solve your issues for the day, God on the other hand helps you resolve them for a lifetime. Choose God first, choose him always!

3. For the third reflection, I want to frame this reflection in the purple of Lent. Moses was the man who led and fed his people. Yet the text of today tells us that in his appeal to God, Moses tells God that these very people wanted to stone him. Sound familiar? Christ fed 5000, raised the dead, cured the leper, and welcomed the sinner but finally, they not only wanted to kill him, but they did it. Moses had to deal with the possibility of being stone, Christ was crucified.

4. In the Gospel of today taken from John 4, Christ, knowing the sinful life of this Samaritan woman engages her in a theological discussion, offers her living water and wins her over to eternal life. Did she get it at first? No, she seems to make fun of this man offering her ‘living water’ at a well, when he has no bucket at all (no one told her he walked on water). But her openness draws her to see him as more than just a Jew (verse 9), as a respectable man, for she calls him “sir” (verses 11 and 15) as a “prophet” (verse19) and to the beginnings of accepting him as the Messiah (verse 29) and the acknowledgement of Jesus as the “saviour of the world” (verse 42)

Is this good enough for your day? If yes then take this water to someone else who is thirsty and all you have to do is send it with a click of a button.

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