She didn’t understand any more than Nicodemus understood, or for that matter, any more than the disciples understood Jesus when He was teaching on many occasions. They didn’t understand because they, Jew and Gentile alike, were focused on what was before them. They were focused on the matters of the flesh, day-to-day living, they were looking through the lens of humanity, and they were confined by their sin nature. Jesus on the other hand, was singularly focused on the matters of the Spirit, living with eternity in full view, seeing through the lens of heaven, and restricted only by the Father’s will.
The Samaritan woman heard Jesus’ offer of living water and the promise that she would never thirst again. She was intrigued because she was tired of having to walk to the well each day to draw water, in the heat of the day, to avoid those in her village who looked down on her. “Living water? Never thirst again?” She just didn’t get it and let’s be honest, neither do we. There are many of us here this morning who, when we heard about Jesus, saw Him as another possibility to help us find relief from whatever was keeping us up at night, to help us get back on track, or to help us to get to heaven. Jesus told the Samaritan woman that she would never thirst again, and He offers us that same promise today. Let’s read John 4:10-15 together
10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” 11 “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?” 13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” 15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.” (John 4:10-15 NIV)
This is our third week taking a look at the story of Jesus and the woman at the well. I was spending time studying this Scripture this past week when it dawned on me; there are at least two ways that people read God’s Word. First of all, we can read God’s Word like a novel and many do. What I mean by this is that we approach God’s Word like we read a book by William Shakespeare, J.K. Rowling, John Grisham, or Alice Walker. We hear from someone about a great book they’ve read so we pick it up and read it. We enjoy the read; tell our friend that we thought it was insightful, entertaining, and thought provoking, but after we finish reading the book we’re done with it. I believe that this is the way that many of Jesus’ followers read the Bible. The Bible was not meant to be read like a novel, short story, or poem.
There is another way to read God’s Word. Let me illustrate what I mean by sharing with you what happened in Joshua’s life. When Joshua took over the reins of leading God’s people into the Promised Land, God promised Joshua two things. First of all, He said that He would be with Joshua just as He had been with Moses. Secondly, God gave Joshua the Book of the Law, the Word of God, and instructions on what to do with it. Let’s read Joshua 1:8 together.
8 Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. (Joshua 1:8 NIV)
What was Joshua to do with the Book of the Law? He was to keep it always on his lips, meditate on it, turn it over and over in his mind, ponder it, consider it, and then “be careful to do everything written in it.” The way God desires for us to approach His Word is so different than the way we read other books. We are to read it, reread it, meditate on it, take notes on what we are reading, pray about what we are reading, get together with other believers and discuss God’s Word, its implications and applications for our lives, and apply it to our daily lives.
I wanted to talk about this with you this morning because I’ve known many people who have attended a Bible study and once they finished the study considered themselves to have “finished” with whatever book of the Bible they were studying. God is not finished teaching us my friends.
God will always have new lessons to teach us, even with the Scriptures that are most familiar to us, if we will simply be still and allow Him to teach us. With that said, let’s turn our attention to the woman at the well and Jesus’ promise that she would thirst no more.
What is Living Water?
Jesus told the woman that those who drink the waters that all of us are most familiar with will thirst again and again, but those who drink the water that He gives will never thirst again. Jesus calls it “living water” in John 4:10. Read it with me.
10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” (John 4:10 NIV)
What is this “living water” that Jesus spoke about? We have to remember that Jesus was Jewish. Everything He spoke about was rooted in the Hebrew Bible. If we have questions about what Jesus is talking about in the New Testament, the first place we should look for answers is the Hebrew Bible. If we want to know what Jesus was talking about when He spoke about “living water” then we need look no further than the Hebrew Bible. Turn with me to Jeremiah 2:13 and let’s read together.
13 “My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water. (Jeremiah 2:13 NIV)
There you have it. What is “living water?” God says, “They have forsaken me, the spring of living water…” They turned away from God, the living water, the nourishment their souls longed for and needed, and they decided they would find nourishment elsewhere, in “broken cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.” Or, if you will remember our study from last week, they sought the nourishment they needed from saltwater that was slowly killing them.
In Isaiah 12:2-3 we find another example that can give us insight into the living water that Jesus was sharing with the woman at the well. Isaiah writes,
2 Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The LORD, the LORD himself, is my strength and my defense; he has become my salvation.” 3 With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. (Isaiah 12:2-3 NIV)
What a joyous testimony! God is our salvation! We can trust Him and not be afraid. YHWH is our strength. He is our defense! He has become our salvation. We draw water from the wells of the salvation of our God!
We can see another facet of the living water if we will take the time to read the prophet Ezekiel. In Ezekiel 36:25-27 we read,
25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws. (Ezekiel 36:25-27 NIV)
Now, all of us know that we cannot cleanse ourselves. We can dismiss our sin, try and diminish our sin, but deep in our hearts we know what we’ve done. Our friends can offer us a “not guilty” verdict and encourage us to get over it, but we know what we’ve done. There’s a chance that nobody knows what we’ve done, but we know. We’ve tried to forget, we’ve tried to block it out, but it’s still there…we know what we’ve done. God says, the Living Water says, “I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean.” God alone can cleanse us from all of our impurities, not just the thing that eats at us, but ALL of our impurities.
If we want to learn about living water we need not stop at searching the pages of the Hebrew Bible, we can turn to the New Testament as well. I’ll just show you one more occurrence, but this one should drop you to your knees. In Revelation, the last book of the Bible, we find, in Revelation 21, that the first heaven and the first earth will be replaced by a “new heaven and a new earth.” John tells us that there will no longer be any sea. (Revelation 21:1) The seas will be gone, but there will be no need for them any longer because John saw the “river of the water of life.” Read along with me from Revelation 22:1-2.
1 Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2 down the middle of the great street of the city. (Revelation 22:1-2a NIV)
You need to know that this won’t be an ornamental river designed to add aesthetic beauty to heaven. A little further into Revelation 22 we read,
17 The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life. (Revelation 22:17 NIV)
“Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.” I’m almost certain that now you must know more about the living water than you’ve ever known before. The living water is our great and glorious God, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit. The living water is the cleansing power that we yearn for in life, but which only God can accomplish in the lives of sin-stained people like you and me. The living water is the life-giving salvation that breathes life into those who are dead in their transgressions and sin and gives them not only eternal life forevermore, but abundant life in the here and now. Oh, the glory of our God, the Living Water, who has come to us in Jesus His Son!
The Water That Brings About Change
There’s more. Jesus said that those who drink of the living water will never thirst again, but that’s not the only change brought about by the living water. I want you to notice this Samaritan woman as she came to the well, compare her demeanor when she first encountered Jesus, and then take another look at her as she left Jesus.
When she met Jesus she came to the well in the middle of the day, an out-of-the-ordinary time for a woman to come to draw water because it was hot. The typical time to draw water was in the early morning or evening hours when it was much cooler. Was she avoiding the other women of her town? If so, why was she avoiding them? I don’t think we have to dig too deeply to find the answer to that question. She had been married five times in the past and now she was living with a man, but she wasn’t married to him. Scandalous! I can only imagine the things that were being said about her around town.
After she met Jesus, who by the way, never brought up her past, He refused to rub her nose in her failures, but instead He offered her living water—she was changed. You may wonder what evidence I have of her changed life? Take a look at John 4:28-30 with me.
28 Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, 29 “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” 30 They came out of the town and made their way toward him. (John 4:28-30 NIV)
John doesn’t give us a hint about the expression on her face, her disposition or mood, but I sense that she was excited, couldn’t wait to get back to her town and share what happened. She left her water pot and announced to everyone, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did.” Wait a minute. We don’t know “everything” she ever did, but we know enough to know that it probably wasn’t a good idea for her to let everyone know that there was Someone who did know. You would think that she would want to keep the people of her town as far away from Jesus as possible because He might spill the dirt on her. She had been avoiding folks in her town who knew some of what she had done, but now she was overwhelmed with the One who knew everything she had ever done. No wonder she asked, “Could this be the Messiah?” Her life had been changed and now she was unashamed. Instead of shielding the people of her town from the One who knew everything about her, the Samaritan woman led her town to Jesus.
Her story is similar to all of those who have ever drank of the living waters. Saul, the persecutor of the followers of Jesus was transformed into Paul, an ambassador of Christ, a bond servant who gave his life for the cause of the Kingdom of God. John, the one who wrote the Gospel we’ve been studying for many weeks now, was once known as one of the “Sons of Thunder,” but as he drank of the living waters day after day, he became known as the apostle of love. James, the brother of our Lord Jesus, who was skeptical, not a follower of Jesus while He was alive, later became a leader in the church at Jerusalem and was killed for his faith in Jesus. The same change that was experienced by all of these, as well as every other believer who has ever drank of the living water, is available to all of us here this morning. The change I’ve described for us is not the result of our decision to live life differently, it’s not a new outlook on life, or some sort of spiritual makeover—it is the result of God taking up residence in our lives. Paul wrote,
20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20 NIV)
“…I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” If you are a follower of Jesus then you can have complete confidence that Jesus Christ has taken up residence in your life. This Scriptural truth is what gave John the confidence to write,
4 You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. (1 John 4:4 NIV)
The church in Corinth was a mess. Paul wrote to them to try and help them get back on track. They were saying, “I have the right to do anything,” but Paul was trying to get their eyes off of the horizontal plane of life and get them to see who they were as God’s people. He didn’t lay down new rules to keep them in line. He appealed to a much greater authority. In 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 he wrote,
19 Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; 20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. (1 Corinthians 6:19-20 NIV)
Most of us have tried to change, but we’ve failed. We can know that when the Lord comes to take up residence in our lives, when our bodies become His temple, sanctuaries of the Holy Spirit, that He will affect change that only He can bring about—the changes He desires to make within us.
The Waters That Lead You to Long for More
There is another truth that I want to share with you before we leave here this morning and it is this: Jesus said that if we drink of the living waters we will never thirst again, but that’s not completely the truth. When we drink of the living waters we will experience a thirst we’ve never experienced before and it is a thirst for more and more of God. One of my favorite preachers, A.W. Tozer, once prayed,
O God, I have tasted Thy goodness, and it has both satisfied me and made me thirsty for more. I am painfully conscious of my need for further grace. I am ashamed of my lack of desire. O God, the Triune God, I want to want Thee; I long to be filled with longing; I thirst to be made thirsty still. (A.W. Tozer)
There was a time in my life when I had only heard of its mouthwatering, satisfying goodness. Friends told me about it with emotion in their voice like when they had fallen in love for the first time. Others were visibly shaken when I confessed to have never even tasted of its sweetness. There was no urge within me, no craving that I had to battle day-after-day, and no longing in the middle of the night. Then the day came when I sunk my spoon into a Hot Fudge Sundae for the very first time and heaven came down and glory filled my soul! Years later, I can be driving down the road going from one place to another and find myself sitting in the drive thru at Braums. I don’t even know how it happens.
The kind of thirst for God that is described for us in the pages of God’s Word, and by A.W. Tozer, is somewhat similar to the craving I just described for you, except for one big difference. Anything or anyone that we thirst for, crave, can’t get enough of, will make us sick in more ways than one. The thirst that comes once we have tasted of the living waters will lead us into wholeness and peace that can only be experienced by walking with the Lord.
The Apostle Paul is a great example of what I am talking about. Paul was a passionate man. When Jesus revealed Himself to him it changed his life in a radical way, and yet Paul, throughout his life, wanted more and more of Jesus. Paul wrote,
10 I want to know Christ–yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead. 12 Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. (Philippians 3:10-12 NIV)
Did Paul not “know” Christ? That surely can’t be what he is intending to communicate to us. No, he wants to know Jesus more and more and more. He has tasted of the goodness of the Lord and now he wants to feast upon His goodness more and more. He has known the sweet forgiveness of the Lord and now he wants to know it more and more. He has witnessed the power of the Lord and now he wants to know it more and more. He has been held by the love of God and now he wants to know it more and more. I could go on and on extolling the wonderful attributes of our great God, but I could never plumb the depths of God. Let me just say that I’m thirsty to know Him more and more. Jerry Bridges wrote,
This is the heartbeat of the godly person. As he contemplates God in the awesomeness of His infinite majesty, power, and holiness, and then as he dwells upon the riches of His mercy and grace poured out at Calvary, his heart is captivated by this One who could love him so. He is satisfied with God alone, but he is never satisfied with his present experience of God. He always yearns for more. (Bridges, Jerry. Holiness Day by Day: Transformational Thoughts for Your Spiritual Journey.)
How about you? Have you been to the Living Waters? Have you drank deeply of His life giving water? Have you had your sin cleansed beneath the Fountain of grace? If so, then you know exactly what I mean when I say that I want to know Him more and more. If not, then I want to invite you to come to the Living Water this very morning. Open wide your mouth, your heart, your hands, and your soul and allow Him to wash you clean, take up residence in your heart, set you on a new course for life, and give you a thirst that you’ve never experienced before. Won’t you ask Jesus, the Living Water, to fill you this morning?
Britton Christian Church
922 NW 91st
OKC, OK. 73114
November 10, 2013