************ Funeral Sermon on John 4:14 ************
By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman
This sermon was preached on June 25, 2019
Memorial Service for Roy Senior
In an immense universe stretching through the vastness of space, our nearest neighbor is the moon. Man has walked on its dry, dusty surface and we know with certainty it is barren, desolate, devoid of even the simplest form of life. What a tremendous contrast it is to the earth, a planet of striking beauty, teeming with life.
What makes the difference? Why is the moon barren and desolate while the earth abounds with life? Water makes the difference. So when a space probe lands on another planet, one of the first things it looks for is water or moisture to see if it is possible for life to exist. You all realize man needs water in order to have life.
The earth is the only planet in our solar system with huge bodies of water; 70% of its surface consists of oceans, seas, and lakes. Similarly, the average human body is 70% water. The water in our blood carries it through 100,000 miles of arteries, capillaries, and veins in our body. Water plays a major role in the digestion of food, lubricates our joints, and regulates body heat.
Roy knew the importance of water for life. His work involved well drilling. Roy was like Jacob. Our Bible reading mentions Jacob's well. I looked for a mention of this well in the Old Testament. No where to be found. Yet, the Samaritans have a tradition from way back that the well in Sychar was dug by Jacob. Jacob lived in Sychar a long time and it is reasonable to assume he dug a well there (cf Gen 33:19). Jacob's well goes down 75-100 feet. Digging and lining such a well was no small task. And, the wells Roy drilled were no small task either -- going down hundreds of feet and costing hundreds of thousands of dollars. Roy's sons tell the story of Roy standing on top of a derrick. Another time he drilled a well on top of a mountain pass only accessible by a 4-wheel drive vehicle.
Water is important to life. But water is not all that we thirst for. God has created us with a built-in thirst for food, drink, clothing, and shelter. God has created us with a thirst for stability and security. God has created us with a thirst for love, acceptance, friendship, and marriage. God has created us with a thirst for knowledge, understanding, wisdom, and culture.
All of us are born thirsty. The question is, how do we satisfy our thirst? Let me tell you what worldly men and women do to satisfy their thirsts. They pursue wealth and treasure and earthly goods. They crave for the honors and acclaim of the world. They rush madly after the pleasures and desires of the flesh. They engage in an endless search for wisdom and knowledge. They endlessly explore the earth and the heavens. Why? Because there is an aching void in their life. Why? Because there is something in every natural man and woman that is unsatisfied. Why? Because they are thirsty!
In our Scripture reading we meet a woman from Samaria. At first Jesus simply asks her for a drink of water. Then He steers the conversation to the real issue: a gift that quenches the deepest human thirst.
This woman is no stranger to thirst. After all, she is at the well to draw water. And, she has been divorced five times and is living with a boyfriend when she meets Jesus. Here is a woman who is thirsty for a lasting, durable, stable relationship. Here is a woman thirsting for meaning and direction in her life.
Jesus also knows something about thirst. After all, He asks the woman at the well for a drink of water. And, remember His fifth word from the cross? While hanging there, suffering and dying, Jesus says, "I am thirsty" (Jn 19:28). Jesus said this fifth word from the cross right after the three hours of darkness. During those three hours God turns His face away from Jesus. During those three hours Jesus has to bear on His own the weight of the whole world's sin. The disciples flee, Jesus' family and friends keep quiet, the jubilant crowds turn against Him, and God forsakes Him too. "I am thirsty." After the three hours of darkness, the three hours of forsakenness, Jesus is crying for God.
Like Jesus, the deepest need of every person is God. Whether He admits it or not, man is thirsty for God. I think of what the Psalmist says:
As the deer pants for streams of water,
so my soul pants for you, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When can I go and meet with God?
One of Roy's favorite texts in the Bible is 1 John 1:9. I already read it, but let me read it again:
(1 Jn 1:9) If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.Do you know why this verse meant so much to Roy? Because Roy thirsted for God, for forgiveness from God, for a right relationship with God.
Because Roy thirsted for God he was also a member of this church, attended worship and Bible study, sang in the choir, and experienced the communion of saints. Roy thirsted for God and even in his last days of confusion he had times of praying we couldn't understand until we caught his final words, "in Jesus' name, amen."
Jesus has an offer for all of us who are born thirsty: an offer for Roy, for Virginia, for me, for you, for the Samaritan woman. Jesus offers living water.
To get water Roy drilled deep. On the west side of the valley his wells go down more than 2000 feet and cost over a million dollars. But the water Jesus offers requires no drilling by Roy or Virginia or you or me or the Samaritan woman. It is gift from Jesus. It is a gift for thirsty people. It is a gift of living water.
What is living water? The opposite of living water is standing water -- like the water in a pool or pond or cistern. Living water is running water, water from a spring. Living water is like the water God gave to Israel while in the wilderness -- water that poured from a rock. Jacob's well is spring-fed and supplied with running water. The Samaritan woman thinks of this kind of water when she hears Jesus' offer of living water.
Now, what does Jesus mean by "living water"? What is the gift that He is offering to the Samaritan woman and to us? It is clear from later on in John's Gospel that "living water" is Jesus' gift of the Spirit and the life it gives. There Jesus says:
(Jn 7:37-39) If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. (38) Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.To these words the Gospel writer adds an explanation:
(Jn 7:39) By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive.
What is living water? It comes down to salvation and everything that is in salvation: mercy, grace, pardon, forgiveness, justification, reconciliation. It is new life and born-again life and eternal life that is ours only from the Spirit of Christ. It is flowing and flowing and flowing, a never-ending stream of life and forgiveness.
Notice what we are being told? We are being told that God, in Christ, satisfies our real thirst by means of the Spirit. This means that the worldly man looks to the wrong things and goes to the wrong places to fill his soul. Instead of going after God He goes after wealth, honor, pleasure, wisdom, power, and knowledge. But Roy, he looked to Jesus to quench the deepest thirst of his soul.
When you go the grocery store today you find shelves of fluids called Sports Drinks. This stuff is amazing. Athletes swear by it. It is supposed to satisfy your thirst better than anything else in the whole wide world. Drink this during a marathon, a bike ride, a hike, and you will go longer and further. But not a single Sports Drink would ever claim you will never be thirsty again if you drink their product. Compare this with the water that Jesus gives. About this water Jesus says:
(Jn 4:14) ... whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.Telling us what? Telling us Christ alone can quench our thirst. He alone can meet the deepest need of our heart, our soul, our person. As I said, Roy knew this. Roy, the well-digger, knew it is Jesus Who quenches our thirst.
We are told in verse 4 that Jesus "had to go through Samaria." But why? If you look at a map you see Jesus had other routes He could have taken. No self-respecting Jew took the route through the territory of the hated and despised Samaritans. Instead, they went out of their way by crossing the Jordan. So why did Jesus have to go through Samaria?
This was part of His ministry, His mission, to the lost. The lesson here is that the ministry of Jesus is not to be limited just to Judea and Galilee; it also included Samaria. And, the water of life is to be offered not only to Judeans and Galileans; it was also to be offered to Samaritans. And, Jesus focused not just on men; He also spent time with women. And, Jesus did not focus on the morally pure and upright; He reached out to someone who had run through five husbands and was now living common-law with another man.
In the same way as Jesus reached out to someone unexpected – a five-time divorcee, a woman, a Samaritan -- so He reaches out to us with the water of life: to Roy, Virginia, you, me.
The Bible tells us that in the Lake of Fire the lost suffer the flames of God's wrath for ever and ever with nothing to quench their thirst. If Christ cries, "I am thirsty," after He suffers the wrath of God for three hours, what is the state of those who have to endure it to all eternity?! When millions of years have gone by, ten millions more lie ahead. There is an everlasting thirst in hell for which there is no relief. Remember the awful words of the rich man in hell:
(Lk 16:24) Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.In hell he craved one drop -- he would have given anything for one drop -- of water. So I say to you, come to Jesus and drink of Him Who is the living water.
"I am thirsty," says the Lord as He hangs on the cross for our sins.
"I am thirsty," says the Samaritan woman as she looks for stability and security in life.
"I am thirsty," says the natural man and woman as they look for meaning and purpose in life.
"I am thirsty," is the eternal cry and moan of the damned in the fires of hell.
"I was thirsty," says any Christian who has come to Jesus, and found in Him the well of living water.
My hope and my prayer is that you, like Roy, have come to Jesus and found in Him the living water, the water of life, that quenches the thirst of your soul.
You can e-mail our pastor at: Pastor, Trinity United Reformed Church
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