Living Water Poured Into Parched Souls

Text: John 4:5-26

Grace and Peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

Water is indeed a great necessity for each and every one of us, is it not?  Consider this, how often don’t we have to drink water?  I’ve been told that the average person can go without water for about 3 days.  However, after 3 days we enter into the very serious stage of being dehydrated.  Indeed, we need water every day because we cannot live without it.  Thus, when we thirst, we logically seek out water to drink; when we drink water we are satisfied.  However, once we are satisfied by water, we begin to thirst again.  Around and around we go in this cycle of drinking, being satisfied, and then thirsting again.  No matter what sport drink commercials say, there is nothing available to us to completely and permanently alleviate our thirst.  We are always dependent upon water physically speaking. 

In our Gospel Reading from today, Jesus encounters a Samaritan Woman at a well.  The Samaritan Woman was most likely thirsty and needing water for that is the obvious reason why she came to draw water from Jacob’s Well.  Jacob’s Well was approximately 80-100 feet deep and the water in the well came from a spring.  Certainly, this well was a source of life for the woman, as well as hundreds of other individuals in the city of Sychar.  Hundreds of people would come to the well throughout the day, lower a bucket, and draw water. 

In our reading, Jesus uses the Samaritan Woman’s need for water to talk about a different kind of water, living water.  Otherwise stated, Jesus uses the reality of needing physical water and the certainty that mankind continually thirsts, as a platform to switch the conversation to different water, living water that quenches an eternal thirst.

My friends, material water, that is H20, will certainly quench your thirst for a while.  However, material water cannot permanently quench thirst eternally speaking.  Yes, like our bodies, the soul thirsts!  St. Augustine, an early Church Father, once said that the soul, which is created for God, will not rest until it rests in God.  Surely, God is complete and we are incomplete because of the curse of the fall, the sin of Adam and Eve.  Because of the curse of sin we are continually trying to make complete the incomplete.  After their fall into sin, Adam and Eve realized their nakedness and felt shame.  Sin poisoned and corrupted their completeness, thus driving them to sew fig leaves together to cover their shame and we have been acquiring fig leaves to cover our shame ever since. 

Whether we use the metaphor of sewing fig leaves to cover our shame or drinking water to satisfy our thirst, the point remains the same, we are not satisfied or complete as human beings.  We are in a state of thirst.  We are constantly trying to cover our shame.  We are trying to calm our fear by being in control.  Truly, because of sin we are off center, naked, shamed, thirsty, fearful, unclean, and restless.    Unfortunately this is the reality of sin and our fallen condition.  This reality is what we affirm each and every Sunday, as we confess our sins in the opening of our Divine Service.      

As a result of our status we are constantly driven and under compulsion to fix ourselves, to justify our condition, to quench our thirst, so that we might be able to have a sense of completeness and wholeness.  We are constantly seeking to make it back to the Garden of Eden where things were right and where mankind was once whole, where there was no thirsting of the soul.  But since we can’t travel back in time to the Garden of Eden, we are left constantly attempting to find freedom from this parching thirst.  We convince ourselves over and over and over that we are o.k. through thinking positive thoughts and by reinforcing our self-esteem.  We say to ourselves, “I am not thirsty, spiritually speaking. I have springs of refreshing water deep within me.  It is there; I am o.k.; I am not thirsty. I am satisfied!”  On the other hand, we are constantly trying to squeeze every drop of water out of the things of life to satisfy our thirst.  We desperately wrap our arms around money, sex, power, food, our property, our possessions, our egos, our jobs, and so forth.  We wrap our arms around these things to wring out every possible drop in order to wet the dryness of our parched condition. 

The problem though is that this doesn’t work my friends.  Unless you and I can rid ourselves of sin by making satisfactory payment for sin, which we can’t, you and I will never be rid of this unquenchable thirst.  This is what King Solomon found to be true in the famous Biblical book of Ecclesiastes.  Solomon, the cleverest of humanity, tried everything, every experiment and desire known to man; and his conclusion was that everything is worthless. In other words, Solomon teaches us that all of mankind’s counsels, plans, and undertakings are all useless and fruitless when lived apart from God.  Without the Lord, nothing can quench our thirst.   

“And so it is in life when it comes to trying to satisfy our spiritual thirsts.  None of the worldly things that we seek out in life can ever give us the peace that surpasses all understanding.  We’re going to the wrong source in an attempt to quench our thirst.  We’re not drawing Christ’s water of life.  Spiritually, we’re not drawing anything better than what we’d draw from a stagnated puddle downstream from the chicken house.  None of these things we sinfully thirst after can ever see us through into eternal life.  None of these things can ever quench the sinful thirst that was a part of us from conception as sinners and enemies of God.  This is why Jesus Christ had to come into our fallen world.  This is why Jesus has to make living water available to you and me.”[1]

In our Gospel Reading from today Jesus, talks about water that is better than the water from Jacob’s well.  This special water though does not need a bucket, it is not located in a deep well, and it is not water that you need to fetch for yourselves by your own doings.  No, it is water that is freely given. Yes, this water that Jesus talks about to the Samaritan Woman is a gift. This water was freely offered to her and it still flows to you and me today as pure gift. 

But where does this water flow from? This water does not flow from within us; it does not flow from any spring of our fallen world of sin.  Rather, this living water is the very Gospel itself.  This living water is Jesus and His Spirit. This living water is poured out upon you at your baptism.  This living water is lavished upon you from the very written and spoken Word of God.  This living water spills over your tongues in the Lord’s Supper. 

Not only is this water freely given and found in Jesus and all that He accomplished, it is living water that satisfies the parched soul; it quenches thirst forever.  It is life-giving water that gushes up to eternal life.  Yes, this living water of Jesus actually quenches thirst.  This fountain of living water is not some philosophical idea, but rather the Gospel that actually does stuff to us.  The Gospel of Jesus Christ is that which quenches thirst, clothes our nakedness, grants us rest, gives us esteem, washes us clean, and completes us.  Why?  Because Christ was indeed crucified for your sins, was buried, rose again, ascended into heaven, and sits at the right hand of the Father in glory—for you.  

My friends, drink up and receive this water, it is for you

The peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus the living water of eternal life. Amen.

[1] Jason Zirbel ”Location! Location! Location!” (22 March 2014)

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