Unquenchable Thirst, John 4:4-41, 24 June 2012

Big Idea: God gave. Seekers can find.

Big Idea: We are all in need of God’s amazing grace, but we must be thirsty.

John provides us with several narratives...and conversations. We have looked at Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus. Now He encounters a sinful Samaritan woman.

  Now he had to go through Samaria. So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon.

The first sentence is significant. Jews hated the mixed race of the Samaritans. They would go around Samaria when they traveled.

This was an important place, Jacob’s well. The well has been active for almost 2000 years!

Jesus is tired, He’s in the middle of the desert at noon. He’s hot. He’s thirsty. He pulls off the road to go to a rest area.

Are you tired? Jesus knows what it’s like to be tired.
Are you thirsty? Jesus knows what it’s like to be thirsty.

Normally women came in the morning as a group to get their water for the day. She came at noon, alone, which tells us about her social status.

  When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her,
“Will you give me a drink?” (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.) (4:7-8)

Jesus surprised her for several reasons:

1. She wasn’t expecting to see anyone at the well. Normally women came in the morning, as a group to get the family’s water for the day. She came at noon, alone, which tells us about her social status. It’s hot in the Middle East, especially at noon, and she was used to a solitary journey.

2. This was especially awkward because He was a man and she was not. Men and women rarely had any interaction unless they were married, and even then rarely in public. Single men never spoke to or touched a woman.

3. This man and woman were alone, which was even more unusual.

4. Jesus was a Jew and she was a Samaritan. Samaritans were second-class citizens. Jews were far superior.

When Jesus enters your life, expect the unexpected.

  The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)

Actually, Jews did associate with Samaritans, but they were business dealings. They would never share water or vessels.

A Rabbinic law from A.D. 66 said that Samaritan women were considered as continually menstruating and always unclean. A Jew drinking from a Samaritan woman’s vessel would become ceremonially unclean.

She knows this is not normal. Jesus goes there!

They did associate with Samaritans, but they were business dealings. They would never share water or vessels.

  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.” (4:10)

How’s that for a response?! If you only knew. Most people don’t really know who He is because most people never ask. He created an interest, a thirst.

Living water did not come from a well. It refers to flowing, moving water from a spring or river. It was precious and the only water that could be used for ritual, cleansing washings. There were no rivers or streams in this area, though, which is why Jacob had to dig a well 2000 years earlier to water his flocks.

The prophet Jeremiah said

“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)

Our story continues...

“Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? 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?” (4:11-12)

Now she addresses Him as “sir.” The animals drank from this well. Jesus knows all about this well! All she could think about was the physical.

Many of us are like that. Many scientists are like that, too.

Just like Nicodeus, earthly questioners cannot understand heavenly things.

He doesn’t have a bucket!

Are you greater than Jacob? In Greek, this question expects a negative answer, but He surprises yet again.

  Jesus answered,
“Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 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.” (4:13-14)

He’s not talking about H2O, of course. He’s talking about something—Someone—who can satisfy like nothing else, the Holy Spirit.

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.” (4:15)

He was thirsty. Now she is thirsty.

How thirsty was she? How empty was her life? How empty was her soul?
She’s ready for it.

She has been desperately seeking something or someone to satisfy her thirst.

Her five husbands have not satisfied her...or vice versa.

She hates coming to the well, every day, alone, at the hottest time of day.

  He told her,
“Go, call your husband and come back.”

That’s an odd request? The water is available to all, but there must be a thirst. She had a quick response.

“I have no husband,” she replied.

She must have been thinking, “It’s hot, You’re weird, why do you care about my husband, and where’s this great water?”

Jesus said to her,
“You are right when you say you have no husband.
The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”

OK, this is really getting creepy. She didn’t even post this information on her Facebook page! She knows He’s special.

“Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”
“Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”
The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”
  Then Jesus declared,
“I, the one speaking to you—I am he.”

I love how she changes the subject and gets theological with Jesus!

Have you ever started talking with someone about something uncomfortable and they change the subject? Look, a squirrel!!!

Many people love to talk about religion but refuse to live it. They use it as a smokescreen.

Five husbands. This was not Elizabeth Taylor. In this culture, she did not divorce her husbands. They divorced her. Men could divorce women for any reason whatsoever and just kick them out of the home, leaving them destitute.

This woman was most certainly broken.
She was lonely. She was desperate.
She may have given up on marriage.
The man she was with may have been merely for survival.

She finally meets a man that respects her.

It’s a good thing it wasn’t a judgmental Christian but Jesus that she encountered.

We often say 3 strikes and you’re out. She had five husbands and was loved and accepted by Jesus. He did not give her a righteous lecture but an unfathomable offer.

Jesus reveals His true identity to this outcast woman.

She wanted to know where to worship. We are to worship everywhere, always! God is no longer limited to one place as He was in the Old Testament.

She is expecting the Messiah. Imagine what she thought when He identified HImself!

It’s a good thing it wasn’t a judgmental Christian but Jesus that she encountered.

We often say 3 strikes and you’re out. She had five husbands and was loved and accepted by Jesus. He did not give her a righteous lecture but an unfathomable offer.

Our worship must come from deep within our souls.

Are you just going through the motions? It’s not about our lips, but our hearts.

Are you worshipping 24/7 or just an hour?

  Just then his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking with a woman. But no one asked, “What do you want?” or “Why are you talking with her?”

No one asked!

  Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” They came out of the town and made their way toward him.
  Meanwhile his disciples urged him, “Rabbi, eat something.”
  But he said to them,
“I have food to eat that you know nothing about.”

She left her water. Jesus is focused, so concerned about this woman. He is fully present.

She can’t wait to tell everyone.
This is probably what she was thinking.

Who did she tell? What kinds of people?

We are to be a hospital, not a country club.

Who do you think you are? I’m one beggar telling others where to find bread.

This sketchy woman tells her village, “I met a man!” What else is new?!

Men and women of passion are contagious following a defining moment.

Do people know you have met Christ?

Then his disciples said to each other, “Could someone have brought him food?”
  “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. Don’t you have a saying, ‘It’s still four months until harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. Even now the one who reaps draws a wage and harvests a crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. Thus the saying ‘One sows and another reaps’ is true. I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.”

  Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged him to stay with them, and he stayed two days. And because of his words many more became believers.

It doesn’t say all of them, but many. Jesus couldn’t get the whole town, so don’t be discouraged if you don’t get the entire office. Just tell them what Jesus is doing in your life.

He stayed two days. He wasn’t in a hurry.

She was a vibrant evangelist. New Christians are often the most excited and contagious. God uses cracked pots.

  They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.”

This is what we want people to say to us!

We get healed and He gets lifted in this worship.

The condition is thirst. We must be thirsty. Are you thirsty? Are you desperate for God? Do you need God?

You can listen to the podcast

So Loved, John 3:1-21, 10 June 2012

Big Idea: God gave. Seekers can find.

John 3:1-21

But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all people. He did not need any testimony about mankind, for he knew what was in each person. (John 2:24-25)

Jesus knew what was in each person. He knows what is in you and me. He is God.

He also knew what was in the heart of a guy named Nicodemus.

Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. (John 3:1)

He was a Pharisee named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews, likely a member of the Sanhedrin, the highest Jewish court. He was an outstanding man. Today he would wear an Italian suit, drive a sports car, be a member at the country club, and command attention in every room he enters.

He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.” (3:2)

Nick at night! He could not “see” spiritually. He came with a mask. “We” know. They recognized the miracles.

Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again.” (3:3)

Jesus interrupts him and starts talking about the kingdom of God. Born again or born from above.

“How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!” (3:4)

This is a great question! Jesus wasn’t talking about a physical birth, though.

Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit.

Water could refer to baptism or the womb but likely the sanctifying, cleaning power of the Word of God (Ezek. 36:25-27) through the Holy Spirit taking the Scripture and using it. The Spirit of God uses the Word of God through the man of God.

Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. (3:6)

Our old, sinful nature does not change. It will die with our body.

The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. (Romans 8:7)

The spiritual birth is necessary. We are given a new nature because our old nature is put to death (baptism).

You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.” (3:7-8)

We still know little about the wind. We can’t stop tornados. We can barely predict them! We can recognize when it is blowing, though, despite the fact that we can’t see the wind. “You” must be born again is plural. The same Greek word for wind means Spirit. We can’t see or control the Holy Spirit, but we can experience His power and presence and observe His movement.

“How can this be?” Nicodemus asked. (3:9)

Nick is no longer a Pharisee or a ruler but a spiritual seeker. The masks are gone. He gets real with Jesus, and that’s what we must do, too. I believe the greatest reason that people in the west reject God is they refuse to humble themselves and admit that they need God. We can’t impress God. We can’t put on a show for Him. We can only come on our knees in respectful reverence, awe, wonder, and desperation.

“You are Israel’s teacher,” said Jesus, “and do you not understand these things? (3:10)

Don’t miss Jesus’ sarcasm here!

Very truly I tell you, we speak of what we know, and we testify to what we have seen, but still you people do not accept our testimony. I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things? No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man. (3:11-13)

See Daniel 7:13-14

I came from the Father and entered the world; now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father.” (John 16:28)

Jesus is the only One who can speak of heaven because He’s the only One who has been there. Prior to Jesus, the righteous dead went to Abraham’s bosom.

Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.” (3:14-15)

The serpent represented the sin of the people. Christ was made sin for us on the cross. See Numbers 21:4-9. Jesus repeats that message in the most famous verse in the Bible:

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (3:16)

The son of man must be lifted up. We must be born again. The love of God cannot save a sinner. It is by grace that we are saved. He loved so He gave. To believe in Christ means to trust Him for your sins. Believe is more than just mental agreement. Demons “believe” in Jesus, but they don’t trust Him for their sins and soul. They have not surrendered their lives to follow Him.

For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. (3:17)

Jesus did not come to judge the first time. He came as the Savior. Next time He will come as the judge.

Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. (3:18)

The name of Jesus, the Savior of the world. The Pharisees believed that the Messiah would come as a Savior and judge. They were correct, but those two roles would occur during two different occasions.

This week I heard a great quote from Billy Graham:

God judges. The Holy Spirit convicts. We are to love.

This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. (3:19)

Nothing that grows in the dark would be welcome in your home!

Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God. (3:20-21)

Credits: Some ideas taken from J. Vernon McGee.
You can listen to the podcast here.

Jesus the Winemaker, John 2:1-11, 27 May 2012

Big Idea: Jesus’ first miracle saves a wedding reception and offers are preview of another salvation

John 2:1-11


If you were writing a fictional account of Jesus, you would never choose this to be His first miracle.

Why did Jesus do this miracle this way for His first one?

Who He came to be?

(8-9) The master of the banquet is like the toastmaster or master of ceremonies or the emcee, the hired life of the party. The party is about to crash and Jesus saves it, revealing that He is the real LORD of the feast, the real master.

He created about 150 gallons of amazing wine to keep the party alive. He comes to be the LORD of the feast. As

Isaiah 25: in that day..feast...wipe away tears...

Of all of the things Jesus could show and tell, He came to bring festival joy.

Why are most people not worshipping God this morning? Many would say they want to enjoy themselves and have fun and Christianity is anything but, right?!

Jesus is LORD of the feast to make the world run with wine. There are reasons to reject Jesus, but boredom is not one of them!

What He came to do?

(4) Woman is not “dear” or “mom” but He is upset. He is harsh and His troubled response shows us He is thinking about something else. He didn’t just change His mind and do the miracle.

  1. If you are single and go to a wedding, you tend to think about your own wedding. You are thinking about the future. If Jesus was thinking about His wedding, it would have stirred Him far deeper than it stirs us.

The God of the Bible does not want to merely relate to us as king/subjects, shepherd/sheep, or even father/children but husband/wife. He wants to know us, love us, and unite with us. The image is of the bridegroom.

Matthew: why don’t your disciples fast? bridegroom
John 3 at end: John the Baptist: the bride is for the bridegroom
John at end of revelation: then I saw the holy city...bride...husband...wedding feast of the Lamb

Jesus is thinking about His wedding day. The ultimate union/consummation/embrace will be at the wedding feast of the Lamb

  1. Many singles find wedding troubling because they don’t know if they will ever marry. Jesus knows, though. He’s not only thinking about His wedding but what it will take for Him to provide wine for His wedding feast.

Jesus literally says “my hour has not yet come.” “Hour” in (John 8:20; 12:23) John means the hour of His death.

Jesus says, “It’s not my time to die yet.” He is looking into the future at which the present is a parable/pattern. He’s not talking about this wine or this wedding feast (He doesn’t have to die for that) but He realizes the only way for Him to unite with His bride is to die.

  1. ceremonial washing; wash before entering the presence of God; sign of our sins that need to be cleansed

Moses once turned water into blood as a curse. Egypt died because water became blood.

Jesus sees wine and thinks of His blood as a blessing.

Jesus is sipping the coming sorrow because He can’t think about giving the cup of joy without thinking about what He will have to drink.

If He is going to feast with us, He has to go through the hour.

“Let this cup pass from me” He said.

If you don’t understand hell, you don’t understand God’s love.

Don’t fear the destruction of your body, but the destruction of your body in hell.

Physical torture is nothing compared to be rejected by God.

The only way Jesus can get to His wedding day is to go through the hour
He came to give His water/blood as our wine.

What does He offer?

Powerful sensation and complete reception.

Powerful sensation. Salvation is wine.

The Bible frequently uses sensory language to describe relationship with God

Ps 34:8, taste and see
Ps 119, open my eyes that I might...

Why does the Bible continually insist on using sensory language? You are not invited to anything less than this, to experience God, to receive a new sensory ability. The Bible pushes you beyond knowing to tasting.

“There is a difference between believing that God is holy and gracious, and having a new sense on the heart of the loveliness and beauty of that holiness and grace. The difference between believing that God is gracious and tasting that God is gracious is as different as having a rational belief that honey is sweet and having the actual sense of its sweetness” - Jonathan Edwards

You are not invited to sign a list of rules but to a feast.

The difference of knowing and tasting is like a blind man asking you the difference between red and blue. It is like the difference between a trumpet and an oboe? Not really.

The wine that Jesus offers creates a hunger for it.

The first step is a hunger and thirst for it.
Then you begin to delight. They ravish you. They become sweet.
They begin to satisfy.

Jesus offers you wine; a feast.

Complete reception. Feast in heaven.

When He says He’s the king/shepherd/father He tells us something about us.

If you’re the best man or groom, you see the bride coming at you. The only person that sees that repeatedly is us ministers. No matter what that woman looks like in reality, she is ravishing. Bridal style/ornaments/garments will make you ravishing no matter what you look like in reality. As she comes down, the groom is amazed. He’s never seen her look like this before.

When Jesus says He is the groom, He is saying we are ravishing and He can’t wait!

To become a Christian,
  1. Admit that you’re out. You are empty.
  2. Let Jesus fill you and get credit for what Jesus has done (the Master ran out of wine and got the credit for good wine)

a. You can go to Him with little things. Why would Jesus use His power on such a small thing. He used His power to wipe the egg off of the face of teenagers.
  1. b. Submit to His timing. He will tell you to do things that don’t make sense and seem counter-productive. Mary says, “Do whatever He says.” She remembers the angels who told her He was the Messiah.
  2. c. Some of you are disappointed about your marital status, married or single. There has never been a wedding like the marriage between us and Jesus. This relativizes the need for a perfect marriage because the ultimate marriage lies ahead.

You have power over your joy.

Jesus’ first miracle was not as a boy, but as a man.

Moses’ first miracle was turning water into blood.
Jesus’ first miracle was turning water into wine.

Credits: many ideas for this message taken from Dr. Tim Keller.

You can listen to the podcast here.