************ Sermon on John 4:14 ************

By: Rev. Adrian Dieleman

This sermon was preached on November 9, 2003

John 4:4-14
verse 14
"The Living Water"

I Thirsty People
A All of us are born thirsty. God has created within us a thirst for things physical, spiritual, emotional, and mental. For instance, 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. Why else does natural man have a consuming desire to acquire wealth? Why else does he crave for the honors and acclaim of the world? Why else does he rush madly after pleasure? Why else does he engage in an endless search for wisdom? Why else does he endlessly explore the earth and the heavens? Why? Because there is an aching void in his life. Why? Because there is something in every natural man that is unsatisfied. Why? Because he is thirsty!

All of us are born thirsty. Unless we thirst for the wrong things, or try to fulfill them in the wrong way, none of us should be ashamed of these deep desires and unfulfilled cravings. In some religions the gurus or teachers claim they can help their followers rid themselves of their desires. But the Christian religion makes no such claim. Rather, it promises to fulfill our desires, to quench our thirst.

B 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.

C 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). When we look at Matthew 27 we see that this fifth word from the cross is spoken by our Lord 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 now God forsakes Him too. This tears from Jesus the cry, "Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?" "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" (Mt 27:46).

"I am thirsty." After the three hours of darkness, the three hours of forsakenness, Jesus is crying for God.

D 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?
(Psalm 42:1,2)
Did you know that in warm weather a fully grown deer must drink more than two quarts of water every day? Deer don't sweat. They pant instead.

Have you ever been thirsty? I'm not talking about "I'd like a Coke" thirsty. I mean a "breathless, dry throat, parched lips, swollen tongue" kind of thirsty. I mean a "I need water right now!" thirsty. Whether he knows it or not, that's the kind of thirst man has for God.

I think too, of the words of an old, familiar hymn. These words remind us of how God's children hunger and thirst for God Himself:
We taste you, everlasting Bread,
and long to feast upon you still;
we drink of you, the fountainhead,
our thirst to quench, our souls to fill.
(P.H. #307:3)

We will be taking the Lord's Supper this evening. Do you know what we are saying? We are saying we are thirsty. And, we are saying only God can satisfy our thirst.

II Water for Thirsty People
A Jesus has an offer for all of us who are born thirsty. It is the same offer He makes to the Samaritan woman: it is an offer of living water.

As far as the Samaritan woman is concerned, "living water" is water that flows in contrast to water that stands still. Living water is the water in a river or stream or spring as opposed to the water in a pool or pond or cistern. "Living water" brings to mind the sparkling, clear mountain streams so loved by beer commercials. For the Samaritan woman the water in Jacob's well being spring fed is living water.

That's not what Jesus has in mind at all.

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. 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:
(39) By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive.

B God, in Christ, satisfies our real thirst by means of the Spirit. This means that natural 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. Jesus says, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again" (Jn 4:13).

Compare this with the water that Jesus gives. About this water Jesus says:
(John 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.
Christ alone can quench our thirst. He alone can meet the deepest need of our heart, our soul, our person.
Topic: Poverty
Subtopic: Spiritual
Title: Lower Your Buckets

The Amazon River is the largest river in the world. The mouth is 90 miles across. There is enough water to exceed the combined flow of the Yangtze, Mississippi and Nile Rivers. So much water comes from the Amazon that they can detect its currents 200 miles out in the Atlantic Ocean. One irony of ancient navigation is that sailors in ancient times died for lack of water... caught in windless waters of the South Atlantic. They were adrift, helpless, dying of thirst. Sometimes other ships from South America who knew the area would come alongside and call out, "What is your problem?" And they would exclaim, "Can you spare us some water? Our sailors are dying of thirst!" And from the other ship would come the cry, "Just lower your buckets. You are in the mouth of the mighty Amazon River."
The irony of ancient Israel and the tragedy around us today is that God, the fountain of living water, is right here and people don't draw from Him.

C Congregation, come to Jesus. Do not reject Him. For if you die in your sins you eternal cry will be the moan of the damned who say and cry, "I am thirsty."

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:
(Luke 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.
Again I say, come to Jesus and drink of Him Who is the living water.

We will be taking the Lord's Supper in a few moments. Do you know what we are saying? We are saying we are thirsty. And, we are saying God's gift of living water satisfies our thirst.

"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 natural man as he looks for meaning and purpose in life.

"I was thirsty," says any Christian who has come to Jesus, and found in Him the well of living water.

Let us eat from the Table of the Lord, then, knowing that anyone who believes in Jesus "will never be thirsty" (Jn 6:37).
You can e-mail our pastor at: Pastor, Trinity United Reformed Church
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