Recently one of the major denominations met in Columbus to debate, of all things, whether or not Jesus Christ is the one true Savior of the world. Is he the universal Savior or might there be several? What about the other world religions and their claims? Some people wonder if perhaps there are not many paths to God. If you asked the average American today what the difference was between the major world religions, they would probably mumble something about all religions being pretty much the same. People assume that all religions have nearly the same moral teachings and ideals. They might have different names for God, but it is the same God. These religions, many people believe, may travel different roads, but they all lead to God. As long as you believe in something, as long as you believe in God, it really doesn’t matter what form your belief takes. The truth is that these religions are all very different and even contradict each other at crucial points. What this means is that we are left with two options: either none of them are true, or one of them is true and the others are not.
It is a scientific fact that we can only go a short time without water. We may survive for several days without food, but water is needed more. Last week we talked about the Bread of Life, Jesus said whoever ate the Bread he was offering would never go hungry again. Now we look at this Living Water he offers and he states, as only Jesus can, he who drinks this water will never go thirsty again.
Thirst is something we experience when the pituitary gland secretes two hormones in the body. One causes a physical reaction in the kidneys and the other causes the more complicated activity of the hypothalamus to send signals to the salivary glands to reduce secretions. I discovered many years ago that just thinking about thirst could make you thirsty -- that is cause the hypothalamus to start talking to the salivary glands. Physical thirst can be excruciating and dangerous. Dehydration will get you into serious difficulty in a hurry. If you have ever been really, truly thirsty then you will be much more able to connect with the meaning of thirst in a spiritual sense.
Thirst is one of the most powerful spiritual symbols in all of scripture. As dehydration draws the whole of our physical being to a longing for water, so a spiritual void will draw our spirits into a search for deeper meaning for our lives. The Psalmist expressed it this way, "As a deer longs for flowing streams, so my soul longs for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God." (Psalm 42:1- Or... "I stretch out my hands to you; my soul thirsts for you like a parched land." (Psalm 143:6).
This woman was dehydrated spiritually and she did not know, maybe some of us are in that same boat, spiritually thirsty. People love celebrations. Celebrations bring out the best and the worst in us. Many people today go through rituals as a form of worship, what they do not know is they are spiritually dehydrated. Rituals do not quench the thirst. Rituals do not satisfy. This woman was going through a ritual that day, little did she know she would meet the One who would satisfy her longing.
What might she had been longing for? To answer that we need to look at her.
1. She is coming at Noon
a. It is warm
b. The water is not as refreshing
c. Less crowded
d. No one to ridicule her.
2. She has had 5 Husbands
a. Women were not allowed to divorce their husbands but husbands can without cause divorce their wives.
b. She has been kicked to the curb 5 times. Widows were more honored than divorcees.
c. She is now with a man who would not marry her, but use her. She is used to this treatment. She is spiritually dehydrated.
d. Today she meets “The Man.”
3. She is ritually spiritual
a. Our Father Jacob, it is about her ancestry.
b. She is looking at the physical
i. The well is deep
ii. You have nothing to draw the water with
iii. Give me this water so I would not have to come here anymore.
Only Jesus can fulfill our Water needs
1. I will give you Living Water.
2. This Water will satisfy your thirsty souls
3. What rituals will not and cannot do, Jesus does.
Other religions call us to rituals, creeds, rules, and works. None of these satisfy our thirsty souls. What is this Living Water? Let us look at what she and Jesus emphasize in this conversation.
She says “We worship on this mountain, you Jews say we must worship at the Temple” (John 4:20). She is in ritual mode, where must we go to really worship? Some say Mecca, some say Church, some say we must take pilgrimages, what do you say Jesus?
Jesus says: "Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem.(John 4:21) Rituals look for a place, Jesus takes us to that place.
Jesus says: 23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth."
To quench our spiritual thirst we must learn to worship the Father in Spirit and in Truth. It is not so much about a building, but it is about a place, that place is in our hearts.
To worship God in our hearts is first to believe that Jesus is who he said He is. This is the uniqueness of Jesus, only He can give us the bread of life, and only He can give us this living water. To receive it we must accept Jesus for who He is. This is part of what Paul is talking about in Romans 10:9-10. When we believe in our hearts that Jesus Christ is Lord, when in our hearts we believe that Jesus is who He said He is, we then come to the place where we can worship Him in Spirit and in Truth, no ritual can give us that.
In the Beatitudes Jesus says Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Are we thirsty? OBEY OUR THIRST and come to Jesus for satisfaction.