15 Mar The Living Water
March 15, 2020
Sermon: “The Living Water”
Scripture: John 4: 1-26
Have you ever been thirsty? I mean really thirsty. The kind of thirst that drinking glass after glass of water can’t quench. I remember as a child running and playing at outside at school and then I would come inside and be so thirsty that all the water in the water fountain could not satisfy me.
Jesus grew up knowing all about the importance of water. Growing up in the rocky, dry land of Israel, he knew firsthand that water was a precious resource that didn’t come easily. He must have grown up seeing his mother and countless other women spend hours of their days hauling water for cooking, cleaning and drinking.
Did you know that 1 pint of water weighs 1 pound, so a 5-gallon bucket and weight 40 pounds. A woman during the time of Christ would have to haul buckets of water from the well to her home several times every day to meet the demands of a large family and busy household. So, when Jesus encounters the lone Samaritan woman, at the well, in the hot noonday sun, he could appreciate the hard work that was required to draw enough water from the well to meet the needs of her family.
When Jesus encounters the woman at the well, he’s hot and tired from his journey. And, he knows exactly what he needs to ease his thirst; he says to the Samaritan woman, “Give me a drink.” It’s a touching, vulnerable moment, one of the very few times that we hear Jesus make a request of another person. He needs something that she can provide for him. In that moment, it doesn’t matter that he’s the Son of God, the Savior of the world, or a Jew encountering someone from the ethnically ridiculed Samaritans. All the barriers and differences like gender and nationality that might divide them, fall away. Because, at this moment, Jesus is simply a person with a basic human need, and this woman can help him.
Jesus, of course, is never simply a “taker”; he hasn’t come into her life simply to demand something that he needs. Jesus is experiencing the discomfort of thirst, but he knows that the woman at the well is carrying a far heavier burden. He’s prepared to give her much more than a simple cup of water. He’s going to offer her something that Coke, Pepsi, and Perrier water cannot offer. He will offer her water that will remove her spiritual thirst forever. Jesus knows exactly who this woman is, and he can see the painful secrets of her heart. And Jesus recognizes her thirst for forgiveness and acceptance.
And because Jesus knows her heart, she doesn’t even have to voice her request. Jesus says, “I can give you living water,” the water that can heal your spirit and ease the pain in your heart. But this woman is so consumed with the burden of hauling endless buckets of water that she can’t grasp the magnitude of what Jesus is offering. She’s simply eager to find a way to avoid this back-breaking drudgery that defines her life. When Jesus tells her that he has water that will forever cure her thirst, she eagerly replies, Sir, give me this water, so that I may never be thirsty. Jesus is offering to open eternity to her, but she is focused on making fewer trips to the village well.
How often are we ready to settle for less than what God wants to offer us? How often are we willing to accept mediocrity instead of the fullness of a life centered in Christ? How often do we hesitate to ask for anything from this generous God who’s prepared to let love and blessing and forgiveness flow over us like a never- ending stream?
There’s no way the woman at the well could comprehend or could visualize how refreshing this water is. Jesus isn’t suggesting a better way to do her chores. He’s not proposing to create a better work environment for her. What he is offering is to ease the burden of her troubled soul and release her from the pain of guilt. This woman has been married multiple times and is living with a past that makes her an outcast in her own village. Even worse, for that time and culture, she’s now living with a man who’s not her husband. She carries with her the pain of guilt, shame and rejection and that’s a far heavier burden than the water that she hauls every day.
Jesus doesn’t want to help her with the burden of carrying water; he wants to ease the burden of her heart. He wants to remove the pain of isolation and disgrace that she and her community has placed upon her. So, Jesus shows this woman why he has come to the well. He wants to offer the gift of God’s life-giving Spirit. He wants to offer her the water that is eternal life to God’s people. Just as the Samaritan woman has exactly the water that Jesus needs in that moment. He has precisely what she needs as well, even if she doesn’t know it. Jesus offers her grace and forgiveness and the promise of new life.
Jesus tells her that he is the Messiah, the One that they have all been waiting and hoping for.
We hear him tell her the good news in verses 24-25, Jesus says “But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” That’s what Jesus offers this tired, burdened woman. He offers her a chance to be transformed. She can be washed clean with one drink of the water he’s offering her.
In today’s scripture, we get the sense that this woman is street smart. She’s probably had to scratch and claw to get what she has in life. And here she is talking to a strange man, and she is a bit sassy about it.
She’s also is a person of dubious reputation. So, when she finally understands what’s being offered, she grabs this knowledge and rejoices. But this woman is also generous. She wants to share this gift of new life and hope with everyone she knows. It’s possible that this woman has even been an outcast in her own village because of her misdeeds and guilty past. But that’s all behind her now. She takes this living water, given to her by Jesus, and she runs back to her village to tell others the good news. She eagerly approaches everyone that she sees and says with wonder, “Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done. He cannot be the Messiah, can he? Then they all left the city and were on their way to meet him”
We all know that water for us humans is necessary for our survival. What we don’t often consider, or can take for granted, is how necessary for our spiritual survival is the living water Jesus offers through the Holy Spirit.
So, what do we thirst for today? Do we thirst for someone who knows us as completely as Jesus does, and yet loves us anyway? Do we thirst for the forgiveness and new life that God alone can offer? Do we thirst for a fresh start? A Renewal? A reset? Or are we searching for Peace of mind? Are we thirsty to acknowledge the mistakes that we have made, and know that there is still hope for us? All of that and more is offered to us in the living water Jesus offers us today.
Living Water; sort of sounds like a brand of bottled water you might find a store. But this Living Water reaches a need far deeper than everyday thirst. The Living Water of Christ touches the part of us that wakes up in the night worried or lonely or consumed with remorse. The Living Water of Christ can wash away the parts of us that feel unclean and threaten to keep us isolated form God forever.
Today, Jesus is offering us a chance to be transformed. We can be washed clean with one drink of the water he’s offering us. All our sorrows, our burdens, our need to live life alone, our need to seek fulfillment through other means can all be washed away today by the life-giving water of Christ Jesus. It’s simply up to us to change our hearts and minds and turn from our sinful past and accept this gracious offer given to us all from our Lord and Savior Christ Jesus. Amen