Life Giving Water

Posted on Jul 6, 2016 in Sermons

Sermon: March 6, 2016
Life Giving Water
John 4:3-42

Water. Where would we be without water? Well, for one thing we wouldn’t have all those amusing clichés we hear all the time. You know, like: Dead in the water – like a fish out of water – come heck or high water – like a duck takes to water – there are literally dozens (100s?) of them.

But, of course, water is far more important than just a word to be used in some witty saying. Water covers 71% of the earth’s surface, either in the form of oceans, lakes and rivers, or ice. It’s what makes our planet unique among all the planets in our solar system; maybe even the entire universe. Approximately 2/3 of our body is composed of water – every cell in our body contains water. Fact is, water is absolutely essential for all known forms of life to exist! It would be safe to say that water is the very essence of life itself; without it life would not be possible!

Looking at the Bible, we find that it talks extensively about water, both literally and figuratively. For example, the second verse in the Bible tells us: “The Spirit of God was hovering over the waters.” (GEN 1:2) And one of the very last verses in the Bible says this: “Come! Whoever is thirsty, let them take the free gift of the water of life.” (REV 22:17)

Moses, by God’s power, parted the waters of the Red Sea and made water come from a rock in the desert. John baptized with water, and Jesus walked on water. Water plays a significant role in both the entire biblical narrative and the history of the world. In fact, the Bible literally uses the word water at least 675 times and makes countless references to water. It would seem that water is important both to our bodies and our souls.

In this particular story water plays a vital role, both literally and metaphorically. In the heat of the mid-day sun Jesus and his disciples stop at this historic well to get a drink of water. If they hadn’t stopped they may have fainted or even died from dehydration – water is both life giving and life sustaining!

So while his disciples go into the town to get some food, Jesus strikes up a conversation with a Samaritan woman who has come to the well to get, what? Water! Almost immediately Jesus turns the conversation from literal water to symbolic or spiritual water, telling the woman that if she knew the gift of God, if she knew him, who he was, and would ask him – he would give her “living water.” But her response makes it very clear that she doesn’t have a clue about what he means.

Like this woman at the well, there are millions of people in the world today that don’t have a clue about this living water offered by Jesus. In fact, there could possibly be some amongst us; and there are certainly plenty of them right outside our doors! (Please keep that in mind as we continue.)

So, Jesus goes on to say: “Whoever drinks the water I give will never thirst again. It will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life;” a continuous, refreshing flow. But the woman was still perplexed – how about us? Just what does Jesus mean by living water? Let’s look at some biblical clues.

A little further in his gospel (JN 7) John recorded these similar words, spoken by Jesus: “If anyone is thirsty, let them come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, streams of living water will flow from within them.’” (JN 7:37-38) Here we see the added emphasis on “Whoever believes in me…” And on this occasion John went on to explain, writing: “By this, Jesus means the Holy Spirit.” (7:39) So living water apparently has something to do with the Holy Spirit.

On an earlier occasion, when Jesus was having a secret conversation with a Pharisee by the name of Nicodemus, he said: “I tell you the truth; no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born again… born of water and the Spirit.” (JN 3:3, 5) Again we see the theme of the Holy Spirit, and that living water must have something to do with being born again, entering the kingdom of heaven, being saved.

Now I could recite numerous additional passages, but I think we’re beginning to see a pattern here. If one wants to enter the kingdom of God / heaven, that is, if they want to be saved and have new and eternal life; if they want to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit to guide and strengthen them – they must come to know and believe in the one who himself was raised from death into eternal life; the one who is the only source of salvation!

So we can effectively say that Jesus Christ himself is the spring of living water! And just as water is the source and very essence of all life, so Jesus is the source and very essence of new and eternal life. No one can live without water, and no one can attain salvation and life everlasting without coming to the living water of Jesus Christ! Without him, new and eternal life are impossible!

But there’s something else important going on in this story. This Samaritan woman was quite surprised when Jesus spoke to her, both because she was a woman and a Samaritan. There was an old Hebrew adage that said: “He who talks much with womankind brings evil upon himself.” You see, Jewish men rarely spoke with women they didn’t know, it was taboo. In addition to that, there was a centuries old hostility between Jews and Samaritans, though they both had the same ancestors. They didn’t like one another and avoided contact as much as they possibly could.

On top of that, this woman was an adulteress – having been married five times and currently living with a man she wasn’t married to. This may seem commonplace to us today (unfortunately), but it would have been considered a mortal sin in that day, and made this woman strictly taboo for any “Godly” person, especially a man.

But none of this mattered to Jesus. Jesus didn’t care about this woman’s ethnicity or her gender; he didn’t care about her sins. His offer of living water is for anyone and everyone who is “thirsty” and willing to accept it! How often in the scriptures do we read about Jesus spending time with, even eating and socializing with, people of “ill repute,” “sinners?” Tax collectors, prostitutes, Roman soldiers; Jewish, Samaritan and Syrian women. It would seem that he enjoyed their company more than he did that of the Jewish religious leaders. In fact, there were a couple of these “disreputable” people in his inner circle of disciples.

And when questioned about his association with these people he would reply: “I came to save sinners” – regardless of who they are! Anyone who is thirsty and willing to accept the gift of living water that I offer!

Sometimes I think we look at certain people and think they’re not worth saving, they don’t deserve God’s grace, or they’re beyond saving. Sometimes some of us may even think that way about ourselves. But friends, let me tell you, Jesus won’t turn anybody away from the fountain of living water. If you’re thirsty and you’re willing to accept the life-giving water that Jesus offers, all you have to do is receive it; it’s there for the taking. And all those folks out there in the world, outside the doors of the church, who we may think unworthy, Jesus is also saying to them: “Come and drink.”

Which leads us to one more important point. Did you happen to take note of what the woman did when she realized that she had met the Messiah? Did she keep it a secret? Heck no! She was so excited she left her water jar by the well and ran back to the town to tell everyone! She wanted all of her friends and neighbors to hear about this living water! About the Messiah, the Savior, the fountain of new and eternal life!

Earlier I quoted a verse from Revelation 22 which says: “The Spirit says, come and drink the water of life.” Then it goes on to say: “Let them who hear, also say come.” In other words, if we have come and taken of the life giving water of Jesus Christ, we in turn are to say to others, “Come, take this free gift of living water.” We are called to be co-hosts with Jesus and the Holy Spirit inviting the thirsty to drink from the fountain of life! Jesus wants this endless spring of living water to well up in us and overflow from us to those around us!

In just a couple of moments we’re going to be sharing in the sacrament of Holy Communion, and I want to invite you to do something. While you’re coming forward or while you’re sitting there waiting, I want you to ask yourself these questions and then pray about them: How well do I know this source of life-giving water? Am I drinking regularly from this fountain of life? Am I allowing this living water to flow out from me to others?”

Come one; come all; to the life giving water!