Last week we established that Jesus left us with an example of a ministering heart. Based on His initial encounter with a woman at a well in Samaria, we concluded three things:
Ministering hearts are tired hearts but motivated
Ministering hearts overcome barriers and are merciful
Ministering hearts see God’s hand in their circumstances and encounters because they are missional.
Today I want to come back and examine this woman in a little more detail and the words that Jesus actually spoke to her. We live in an age of appetite and thirst. There is a constant drive inside of human beings for satisfaction. We fix our eyes on something and are convinced that if we can just achieve a purchase or a relationship or acquire something that we don’t have that we will be satisfied.
All of us in this room can testify if we are honest that the things we generally think we can’t live without do little once acquired to quench this “burning in our soul.”
Before we look at what Jesus had to say to her about satisfaction I want to jump ahead in the story and let you look into her life and feel the emotions of a woman on a search. We are looking at a woman that had looked for love in all the wrong places.
“Go and get your husband,” Jesus told her. 17 “I don’t have a husband,” the woman replied.
Jesus said, “You’re right! You don’t have a husband—18 for you have had five husbands, and you aren’t even married to the man you’re living with now. You certainly spoke the truth!”
John 4:16-18 NLT
Her life was a miserable chain of unfulfilling relationships. The fact that she had married five times indicates that she longed for fulfillment in her life and that she had sought it intensely. I am sure she entered into her first marriage with an excitement not uncommon for new love but something went wrong. She was alone and then another man came into her life and the feelings of love began to happen again, although not as intense this time. This marriage fails and then there is another man and another and another. Finally after five failed marriages, although this drive for satisfaction is there, she just decides to move in with guy number six. Now she is an outcast among her own people. She comes to the well at noon to avoid the crowds of her own community. She has heard what is said about her. She has felt the scorn and even the looks by people when she is in public.
She was thirsty. She physically needed water but there was a thirst inside of her that was almost consuming. There has to be more to life. We live in an age of thirst. In this very room today are many of us that have tried all kinds of things to satisfy a deep thirst that never seems to go away. You and I don’t need to add our scorn on this woman for her sins because all of us at one time or another has been in her shoes.
We have all gone out on our own looking for something to satisfy a deep need inside of us that doesn’t go away. All of us at one time or the other have looked everywhere but to Jesus Christ for help. Without a relationship with Jesus Christ we are left with a feeling of helplessness and hopelessness. Money can’t satisfy us nor can any of the other things that people turn to in a vain attempt to find satisfaction.
George Sanders was at one time a leading man in Hollywood who had even been married to Zsz Zsz Gabor. He was a graduate of Cambridge University and was a brilliant mathematician. He was a man of exceptional mental and social abilities, but his suicide note contained a bit of “Samaritan” dissatisfaction and despair.
“I am committing suicide because I am bored. I feel I have lived long enough. I leave you all in our sweet little cesspool and I wish you luck.”
People are thirsty for something that will truly satisfy them. When they don’t find it they are left to keep trying any and everything they can to quench the thirst they feel deep within.
1. The Christ of Satisfaction
7 Soon a Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Please give me a drink.” 8 He was alone at the time because his disciples had gone into the village to buy some food.
9 The woman was surprised, for Jews refuse to have anything to do with Samaritans.[b] She said to Jesus, “You are a Jew, and I am a Samaritan woman. Why are you asking me for a drink?”
10 Jesus replied, “If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.” John 4:7-10 NLT
Jesus says to this thirsty messed up woman that He can give her living water. At first one might be tempted to think that He is offering clean and clear sparkling and flowing water. However the phrase “living water,” has many Old Testament associations that this woman as even a Samaritan Jew would have been familiar with.
In Jeremiah 2:13, God refers to Himself as “the spring of living water.”
In Psalm 36:9 we read, “For with you is the fountain of life.”
In Isaiah 55:1 we read, “Come all you who are thirsty, come to the waters.”
Psalm 42:2 states, “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.”
Given the fact that Jesus also references God in His response to her also alerts us to the fact that she knew He meant more than just water from the well. “If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.”
She knows there is something more to this conversation than just clean clear water but she is a tad sarcastic in her response.
“But sir, you don’t have a rope or a bucket,” she said, “and this well is very deep. Where would you get this living water? 12 And besides, do you think you’re greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us this well? How can you offer better water than he and his sons and his animals enjoyed?”
It’s a good question and one that everyone of us should be asking or have already asked in our lives.
What does Jesus Christ offer to your life today? What is it that He can do for you? There is no doubt that many of us in this room have problems in our lives and stuff that we are dealing with.
What is it exactly that Jesus is really offering here? What kind of satisfaction can He give to a hurting person?
The fact is that nothing will ever satisfy our longings and dissatisfactions except for a long and continuous drink of God through a vibrant relationship with Jesus Christ.
2. The Completeness of Christ’s Satisfaction
13 Jesus replied, “Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. 14 But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again." John 4:11-14b NLT
If I could convince you or this fact today many of you would be spared the misery that you find yourselves in today. You would receive an inexpressible joy that would never go away.
Companionship and intimacy are the natural waters of life, but they will not satisfy people’s longings. Jesus makes it very clear, scripture makes it clear, all of us that have lived any length of time as adults make it clear that companionship and sexual intimacy do not satisfy the thirstings of soul. They were created by God to bring pleasure in the right context but they don’t satisfy the constant deep longings of our soul.
Some people will try to find satisfaction in materialism or money. Nothing could ever be more futile than this. The eight century monarch of Cordova wrote:
“I have now reigned above fifty years in victory or peace; beloved by my subjects, dreaded by my enemies, and respected by my allies. Riches and honors, power and pleasure, have waited on my call, nor does any earthly blessing appear to have been wanting to my felicity. In this situation I have diligently numbered the days pure and genuine happiness which have fallen to my lot; they amount to fourteen: O man, place not thy confidence in this present world.”
To try to satisfy the thirst in our souls with the things of this world is like the unfortunate sailor that is adrift and famished that let themselves drink the oceans water only to find themselves more miserable than they ever could have imagined.
You will only find satisfaction by being in an ongoing relationship with Christ.
Many of us just keep grasping for the future:
When we are the age of a young child, we think life will come together when we are teen agers and get big and strong. When we are teen agers, we think life is going to shape up especially if you are a guy when we get a car. When we get our car, we expect life will be fulfilled when we graduate from high school. When we are in college, we think our needs will be met by marriage. When we get married, we think it will come through children. After that, it is when the children leave home and finally we pin our hopes on retirement.
The fact is, trying to quench our thirst with the things of the world is like going to a Chinese buffet. You may have a hundred choices and eat all of them and waddle your way out of the restaurant but within a few short hours your body will tell you that you are hungry again.
Look again at what Jesus said and hear these words deep in your soul,
13 Jesus replied, “Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. 14 But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. John 4:11-14b NLT
What an incredible promise is made to you and me today. He is saying that it is completely satisfying and permanently satisfying.
Let me ask you is your life full today? Are you satisfied or are you still thirsty. Have you drunk from the spring of life giving water that Jesus offers or are you living your life trying one thing after another to bring you happiness? Some of you can relate to that Chinese buffet analogy.
3. The Character of Christ’s Satisfaction
“It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving the eternal life.” John 4:14c NLT
Some translations say, “a spring of water welling up” No place is this witnessed more than in Acts 3:8 where a lame man is healed and we read about him running and jumping in the temple and praising the Lord. John writes that it is like a divine spring, jumping leaping, dancing fountain within us.
Life with Christ is not stagnant but is full of motion and change. The world spends billions of dollars trying to convince you and I that it is exciting and energizing, but there is really nothing more boring and unsatisfying then the pursuit of mere pleasure to satisfy our souls. Real excitement comes from drinking deeply at the well of water that springs up to everlasting life!
In researching this topic of satisfaction I came across two rather unsatisfied voices from the world about the subject of satisfaction. The first was a hit song from 1969 and sung by Peggy Lee:
I remember when I was a very little girl, our house caught on fire.
I'll never forget the look on my father's face as he gathered me up
in his arms and raced through the burning building out to the pavement.
I stood there shivering in my pajamas and watched the whole world go up in flames.
And when it was all over I said to myself, "Is that all there is to a fire"
Is that all there is, is that all there is
If that's all there is my friends, then let's keep dancing
Let's break out the booze and have a ball
If that's all there is.
That was in 1969 but the group Bad Religion voiced the same sad sentiments with these depressing words:
This song goes out
to all the hopeless sinners
with grave allegiances so meaningless and vain
The walking wounded, in a pageant of contenders,
who balance on a rail of pain, for just a pail of rain
And everything is barely mist,
blood relations and bricks
my expression, my confession,
add it up, extract a lesson,
more than this, once again,
like a bullet, as a friend tell me
can that be all there is?
In my rectory of doubt
I kneel to pray like one devout
as time the great gray dreamless sleep
of a useless modern God
erodes away each storied day
as wretched Adams
with hell to pay
content upon a rail of pain, for just a little rain
The dissatisfaction in these words is just heartbreaking and yet when you look beyond the glitz and glamour of the red carpet people in our world you find men and women doing everything they can to find satisfaction. The money doesn’t do it, the sex doesn’t do it, the houses and cars don’t satisfy them. People of all backgrounds will go to incredible lengths to satisfy their thirst. But without the living water Christ offers it will be one continuous disappointment after another.
There is an Old Testament Festival that was observed and ordered by God and it was called the Feast of the Tabernacles. Pilgrims would come from all over the known world in those days. When they arrived in Jerusalem they would build tiny shelters all over the city in remembrance of their wilderness wandering for forty years. There were even construction rules for the shelters. The walls had to be constructed so as to give shelter but not shut out the sun during the day. The roofs were thatched so the stars could be seen at night. The purpose of these rules was to remind them that they were once homeless wanderers.
The festivities featured a daily ceremony that began at the temple, where the people gathered together, then formed a processional on down to the Pool of Siloam. Edersheim, the great authority on Christ’s life, tells us that as people came, they brought palm branches and pieces of willow and cypress to make into wands that they carried in their right hands. In their left they carried a citrus fruit called a “paradise apple.” The branches were meant to remind them of the desert, and the fruit was to remind them of the harvest.
When all was ready, the music began, and the great throng of people headed down to the Pool of Siloam, shaking the branches and citrus fruit rhythmically to the music as they followed the white clad priest carrying a golden pitcher. When they came to the Pool of Siloam the priest dipped the golden pitcher with great joy and carried it back to the temple as the people continued singing and chanting Psalms. As they came to the gates of the temple, there could be heard three loud blasts from silver trumpets, and the priest would enter the temple confines to pour the water on the altar.
It was traditionally thought at that time that to see the water poured out on the altar was the high point of a dedicated Jew’s life. Edersheim records that a priest by the name of Alexander Janaeus once poured the water on the floor, and there ensued such a riot that around the environs of the temple 6,000 people were killed.
As the people chanted the great Hallelujah Psalms together, there came a pause, and a that time the water was poured out on the altar. It is at that time, according to scholars calculations that Jesus cried out the words we have recorded in John 7:37-38.
“’If a man is thirsty let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.’ By this He meant the Spirit.”
The conditions are twofold to receive Christ’s offer:
You have to be thirsty
You have to ask
10 Jesus replied, “If you only knew the gift God has for you and who you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.” John 4:7-10 NLT
In 1996, a young marine corporal named Joey Mora was standing on a platform of an aircraft carrier patrolling the Iranian Sea. Incredibly, he fell overboard. His absence was not known for 36 hours. A search and rescue mission began, but was given up after another 24 hours. No one could survive in the sea without even a lifejacket after 60 hours. His parents were notified that he was "missing and presumed dead."
The rest of the story is one of those "truth is stranger than fiction" events. Scriptwriters would pass it up as "not believable." Four Pakistani fishermen found Joey Mora about 72 hours after he had fallen from the aircraft carrier. He was treading water in his sleep, clinging to a makeshift floatation device made from his trousers -- a skill learned in most military survival training. He was delirious when they pulled him into their fishing boat. His tongue was dry and cracked and his throat parched.
Just about two years later, as he spoke with Stone Philips of NBC Dateline, he recounted an unbelievable story of will to live and survival. Who would not give up? He said it was God who kept him struggling to survive. His discovery by the fishermen makes searching for a needle in a haystack a piece of cake. The most excruciating thing of all? Joey said that the one thought that took over his body and pounded in his brain was "Water!" [NBC Date Line: Nov. 1998]
Have you ever been thirsty like that?
I heard a story one time of a visitor here in America from a third world country who saw a water fountain for the first time in his life. But he could not see how to make it work. It had no tap, no buttons to press. He became very angry and frustrated.
He was about to turn away when somebody pointed out to him a little sign on the bottom of the fountain that simply said, "Stoop, and drink." Well when he stooped over he discovered that an electric eye detected his presence and the water automatically came flowing out. You see, when we come to Jesus, He will provide us with living water…a spiritual satisfaction…a spiritual contentment that we cannot find anywhere.
Is your life like a Chinese buffet? Are the delights that you pursue satisfying for a short time and then gone? Or is your life a well of living water, springing up, dancing within you, streaming up to eternal life so that you will never thirst again?
Encouragement to take a bottle of water.