A Lowly Leader

Third Sunday of Lent

SUNDAY, March 12
John 4:5-15

The text just before the story of the Samaritan woman tells of John the Baptist responding to his disciples’ complaints about why people are following Jesus and are being baptized by him. In John 3:35 he lays it out, saying, “The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands.” He is clear that Jesus has authority from above.

Yet once again Jesus assumes a surprising posture as a leader—sitting on the ground by the community well without a disciple or follower in sight. Then, according to cultural norms, he lowers himself even further by speaking to a Samaritan woman with a complicated past. According to verse 9, this woman and the Son of God shared nothing in common, yet he sought a connection with her. By asking the woman to draw water for him from the historic family well, he draws her into relationship. By showing his vulnerability, Jesus leads her to living water. And that living water means she no longer carries the shame that forced her to come to the well in solitude.

Holy God, help us to have humility and integrity that we might give life to others. AMEN.


Standing on the Rock

MONDAY, March 13
Exodus 17:1-7

Are you coming or not? Do you want it or not? Are you with us or not? Adding “or not” to the end of a question completely changes the tone. What could have been an invitation becomes a demand. So when verse 7 says the place where Moses struck the rock was named Massah and Meribah because of the Israelites’ question, “Is the Lord among us or not?” it comes across as a challenge—not just to Moses but to God himself. What was the Lord’s response when Moses cried out about these thirsty people? “I will be standing there in front of you on the rock at Horeb” (v. 6, NRSV). 

I am grateful that God is standing in front of me. He goes before me when things get difficult—when it feels like others are against me or when I am called to do hard things. Knowing that we have a God who is among us fills me with peace.

Lord Jesus, thank you that you are God with us. AMEN.

In Spirit and Truth

TUESDAY, March 14
John 4:16-26

My church was serving at an urban soup kitchen. Because there were too many volunteers to fit into the small kitchen, we were instructed to go out and talk with people who were already eating. This was not my comfort zone, so I looked around the room for an easy person to sit with. As I settled next to a woman sitting alone, her friends sat down on her left and they turned their backs to me. I was left to look at the person on my other side—a young man whose body language was clearly saying, “Leave me alone.” But I said hello anyway and when his eyes met mine, I felt a peace wash over me. We talked like old friends and that dining room became a holy space.

There are no boundaries to where worship can take place—neither mountain nor Jerusalem (v. 21). We can enter a sanctuary of worship on a bike ride or in a song on the radio, in a sunrise or while serving in the community. And there we will worship in spirit and in truth.

Lord, we worship you right here, right now. AMEN.


Deep and Wide

Psalm 36:5-10

Ron Howard’s movie Thirteen Lives tells the 2018 rescue story of the Thai soccer team who became trapped in the Tham Luang cave, a six-mile-long, complex system deep beneath the Doi Nang Non Mountain. Rescue teams raced to redirect torrential rains away from draining into the mountain and pumped water out of the cavern trying to rescue a dozen boys and their coach before nature overpowered them all. A team of divers swam six hours underwater to reach the spot where the boys were stranded to save their lives. The story is mind-blowing.

The vastness of God’s creation is too enormous for us to contain. Heavens, mountains, and seas. And God himself is greater than we can fathom. But at the heart of this deep and powerful world is his steadfast love. In that we can take refuge and find true salvation.

God of love, we praise you for your might and power and faithfulness. AMEN.

Flipping the Script

THURSDAY, March 16
John 4:27-30

In high school I worked at a Covenant camp for three summers. However, when I applied to work as a counselor for a fourth year, I didn’t get the job. Poor choices I had made in the previous three years led them to hire someone else. I was hired at a different camp, but I really wanted to work at the other one and was ashamed that I had blown my chances there. 

In the end, the new camp allowed me to visit my grandparents who lived a few hours away, and they hired me as program director the following year. What I thought was an embarrassing second choice,
God turned around. 

When the Samaritan woman left the well, she left her water jar behind. Her plan was to collect water for her household, arriving at the heat of the day so she could be alone. But her story was flipped—she left with no water, but she was not alone. Her neighbors listened to her and believed.

Lord Jesus, your ways are not our ways. And I am so glad. AMEN.




FRIDAY, March 17
John 4:31-38

When my kids were growing up, our church hosted an elaborate vacation Bible school. It was an over-the-top production. Construction teams created intricate sets, teams of teachers planned their classrooms, musicians practiced and choreographed the songs, and I directed the storytelling dramas. I enjoyed sharing the Bible story each day in funny and creative ways. But I didn’t really have relationships with the kids because I was always either on stage or directing others through their parts. I didn’t greet the children as they arrived each day.
I didn’t walk through the lessons with them or pray with them as the teachers did. I was not sitting next to them as they sang. And I wasn’t in the room when any of them said yes to Jesus. But I know that each part contributed to the whole.

“One sows and another reaps,” and both roles are important to the kingdom. Whether you plant the seed in the ground, water it, pull weeds, or harvest the crop, the Lord values you.

Jesus, we thank you for the gifts you have given the church to work together for your glory. AMEN.

A Genuine Invitation

SATURDAY, March 18
John 4:39-42

Twice we are told in John 4 that the Samaritan woman described Jesus as a “man who told me everything I have ever done!” Given the little bit we know about the woman at the well, it is surprising that she chooses that to focus on. She could have told her community about Jesus being living water or that he is the Messiah they had been waiting for, but she didn’t. Did she miss the point? 

The woman’s message to the people in her town was her own reflection of her experience with Jesus. She wasn’t trained in the “right” words, but she spoke out of her joy. Because she was genuine, the Samaritans came out to see who Jesus was. She didn’t try to proselytize—that wasn’t her. But because she shared a piece of herself, the people invited Jesus to stay with them and after two days, “many more believed because of his word” (v. 41, NRSV). 

Lord, may our faith be genuine and our lives reflect your joy. AMEN. 



About the Author

  • Linda Sladkey

    Linda Sladkey is the managing editor of the Covenant Companion and a member of Naperville (Illinois) Covenant Church. She and her husband, David, have a bucket list to ride their bikes together in all fifty states.

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