- Sermon Notes
Water for the Thirsty Soul
As we come to John chapter 4, Jesus is in the early days of His ministry. He has been in the area of Judea around Jerusalem, but now is heading north to the area around the Sea of Galilee. As He is traveling, it says that He had to pass through Samaria.
He didn’t actually have to pass through Samaria; in fact, most Jews would go out of their way to go around Samaria, adding an extra two days to their journey. The Jews and the Samaritans hated each other.
Jesus “had to go through Samaria” because God had an appointment for Jesus with a Samaritan woman. What unfolds is an amazing story that reveals the heart of God for sinners in an amazing and powerful way.
This Samaritan woman in many ways represents the spiritual thirst of those without God and without hope. She tries to satisfy her spiritual thirst through relationships with men. She has been married and divorced five times and the man she is now living with is not her husband.
She had spent her life searching and longing for hope, looking for a prince that would satisfy her life, to give her value and meaning and purpose. She perhaps was at one time a very beautiful woman and thought she could use her beauty to not only attract men, but satisfy her soul.
She has been drinking from the well of relationships to try to satisfy her spiritual thirst. Many have drunk from that well also and know that it cannot satisfy a thirsty soul. But there are other wells people drink from and they don’t satisfy either.
Some drink from the well of success, or materialism, or pleasure. This is also what the prodigal son discovered in Luke 15, everything he was searching for was at his father’s house.
Jesus had to go through Samaria because God had an appointment with this woman. He will offer her living water that will truly satisfied the soul.
In their dialogue, the conversation turns to worship. She’s actually trying to change the subject because He just revealed the truth of her life. But it’s a great part of the conversation because worship is the result and the response of living water in our lives.
This is where it’s important to understand a bit of the history of Samaria. After King Solomon died, the people of Israel asked Solomon’s son, King Rehoboam, to lighten their load, but he foolishly responded that he would make their load even heavier, their taxes even greater, their burden would only increase.
The northern 10 tribes of Israel revolted. The leaders in the north didn’t want the people going to Jerusalem to worship, so they set up two altars with golden calves. But there was not true worship there and the people’s hearts were drawn far from God. With one generation after the other, they went farther and farther into worldly things, chasing the gods of pleasure and materialism.
Finally, the northern kingdom was destroyed by Assyria, the Jewish people deported to some far-off place. Others were brought in to replace them, they intermarried with the Jews that remained and the result was the Samaritan people.
What a great lesson this is for us. We need to reach out to people who are not like us. This is the heart of the Lord. Should I reach out only to people who are tall, good-looking, and losing their hair? Some even custom-design their ministry to reach only a specific target audience; bikers or surfers or cowboys or punkers or Hispanic or Asian, but shouldn’t we all worship together?
Galatians 3:28, There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
I think one of the keys to this is serving each other and serving together. God has given many opportunities.
There is a lot we can unpack from this story and apply to our lives.
I. Know Who is Giving the Gift
- Jesus said to the woman, “If you knew who it is who is speaking to you, you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.”
- Jesus also said, “If you knew the gift of God.” In other words, she doesn’t yet know that He is offering her life. Here He gives us another great example; He engages in a dialogue. He doesn’t just preach at her.
- Her responses are sarcastic and flippant. It’s like she’s jousting with Jesus. Maybe it’s part of her general attitude about men; they’re all corrupt, they’re all dogs, they don’t care, they just take and never give.
- But Jesus is not put off; with patience and love He draws her into a relationship with God. And he does all of this while He is tired from the journey.
- Ministry can be tiring, but never tiresome. I would rather be tired from God’s purpose in my life, then the tiredness that comes from partying all night or covering up sin, or untangling all the messes of life.
A. Our soul longs for relationship
- Many times Jesus spoke of God as His Father and referred to Himself as the Son, the Son of God or the Son of Man, but it all speaks of relationship.
- Our families, our relationships, are some of the most valuable treasures we have, but they need to be in the right order. If our relationship to God is nonexistent, our souls are empty or sick.
- Many drink from the well of relationships believing they’ll find purpose and value and contentment, but when the soul is sick it never works.
Illus - My wife and I know someone who has been married many, many times and the story is always the same; at first the new guy is perfect in every way, a knight in shining armor, then, after the initial euphoria wears off, the guy suddenly becomes detestable.
- The problem is that people want to live in that constant state of the initial euphoria. “I get butterflies when I’m around him, I’m all a flutter, my mouth is dry; my mind goes blank.” Do you really want to live that way all the time?
- Love has to deepen and grow and mature over time, and when we experience the depths of God’s love, then we have something to give away and that’s when we are blessed.
Ephesians 5:25-27, Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory.
- In verse 14 Jesus said, “The water that I shall give him shall become a well of water springing up to eternal life.” What she was looking for all along was found in Him.
B. Receive God’s gift with a good heart
- Before this woman could receive this living water, Jesus had to set something straight.
- Up to this point she has been sarcastic and flippant and in many ways she’s being cynical. When Jesus speaks of living water, you can hear a bit of sarcasm when the woman says, “Sir, give me this water so I won’t have to come all the way here to draw.”
- He responds by putting his finger at the place of her greatest need, “Go, call your husband and come here.” She responds, “I have no husband.” He then reveals her sin.
- At first, the woman tried to get the focus off of herself by saying, “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet.” But Jesus, in grace and love, draws her to a relationship to God.
- There is no conversion without conviction and there is no forgiveness without repentance.
Matthew 21:31-32, Jesus said to them, “Truly I say to you that tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the kingdom of God before you. For John came in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him; but tax collectors and prostitutes did believe; and you, seeing this, did not repent and believe.”
- Jesus is not just something you add to your life; He comes to transform our lives. That means that some things have to go, that’s what repentance is all about.
- He wants us to let go of the things that are killing us. If you drink from the well of possessions, or success, or materialism, you will thirst again.
- If you drink from the well of worldly pleasure, it only ends in death.
Hebrews 11:24-25, By faith, Moses chose rather to endure ill treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward.
II. Living Water brings True Worship
- When the Samaritan woman tried to change the topic on Jesus she brought up the topic of worship.
- Jesus responded, “An hour is coming when true worshipers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth.”
- This is key for us to understand because Jesus said that these are the people the Father seeks to be His worshipers.
- When there is living water in the soul that springs up to eternal life, the result is a heart that worships.
A. Worship God in truth
- There is a right way and a wrong way to worship.
- We don’t worship creation, we don’t worship self; we don’t create our own view of God.
- God reveals Himself through His Son, Jesus Christ, and we approach God through Him as well.
Hebrews 10:19-20, We have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh.
- Jesus said that He would give living water that would become a well springing up to eternal life. That is the place in our lives from which we worship. In other words, Jesus is the Truth and gives the Spirit of Truth to dwell in our hearts.
- We worship God because He hears our hearts and if our hearts do not sing, we have not sung at all. That actually comes from a quote by C. H. Spurgeon.
C.H. Spurgeon wrote, “God does not regard our voices, he hears our hearts, and if our hearts do not sing, we have not sung at all.”
Isaiah 29:13, The Lord said, “Because this people draw near with their words and honor Me with their lip service, but they remove their hearts far from Me, and their reverence for Me consists of tradition learned by rote.”
Illus - Matt Redman wrote the song, The Heart of Worship, “I’m coming back to the heart of worship, I’m sorry, Lord for the thing I made it.”
- There is also faithfulness to worship. I should worship whether I feel like it or not. It’s easy to come to church when all is well and good, but if there are troubles and problems, that’s when we need to worship more than ever.
Illus - There have been many times when I have not felt like worshiping, but when I am in the presence of God, my heart surely follows.
B. Worship God in spirit
- Your soul is the place where God’s Spirit dwells and from there you must worship.
Psalm 62:8, Trust in Him at all times, pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us.
- When your heart is engaged, the expression of praise will follow. Some lift their hands; that’s very biblical.
- Don’t be surprised if you find worship staying with you throughout the day. But that’s better than a lot of the songs that used to rummage around in my head. Is driving stressful? Your car can become a sanctuary.
Psalm 63:3, Because Your lovingkindness is better than life, my lips will praise you. I will bless You as long as I live.
John 4:1-30 NASB