Living Water

John 4:5-42

Water, It’s a precious resource isn’t it!  Sometimes we don’t realise just how precious it is until we haven’t got it.  There’s been a couple of things happen to me in recent weeks to remind me just how much we rely on it. 

The first was a couple of Saturdays ago when one of the taps in the bathroom wouldn’t turn off properly.  I turned off the water coming into the house and headed off to Bunnings to get some parts to repair the tap.  When I returned Terri was trying to cook tea, and commented on just how often we go to the kitchen sink for water when we are cooking.  There are so many things you can’t do as quickly or efficiently when we don’t have our running water working.  As soon as the tap was repaired I turned the mains back on and realised that someone must have flushed the toilet while I had it turned off because the cistern was making that familiar filling noise.  We turn the tap or push the button and expect water to be there.  What if it wasn’t, how would we cope?

We need water to survive!  No wonder the Israelites were grumbling to Moses when they didn’t have enough water to drink.

Last weekend as a family we delivered the Yellow Pages directories to the suburb of Croydon Hills.  The temperature on each of the 4 days was over 30 degrees and we delivered something like 1700 directories.  If it hadn’t been for us constantly drinking water we would have all been in fairly serious trouble from de-hydration.  We were all very grateful for the water we had put in the car before heading out delivering.

Imagine being out in the desert and having NO water to drink.  It was probably much hotter for the Israelites than it was here in Melbourne last week.  There were thousands of people and nothing to drink, nothing to wash in.  I think that’s good reason to be more than a little upset.  Rather than complaining to God and asking for his help the people go to their leader Moses and moan to him.  Moses is much more switched on, he cries out to the Lord for help, and surprise, surprise, the Lord provides.  All Moses had to do was strike the rock at Horeb and water flowed from it.  Their physical needs were catered for.

The Samaritan woman and Jesus were both in need of water too.  Jesus was tired from a long journey and was sitting by Jacob’s well.  Along came the woman to draw water from the well.  She was after water to take to her home, they didn’t have running water in their homes and had to draw it from this well and take it home in a large water jar.  It must have been hard work hauling water from the bottom of that deep well, filling the jar and then carrying it home, especially for this woman who had come to collect her water in the middle of the day. 

Her need, like the Israelites in the desert, was for water to quench her thirst, but Jesus offered her living water.  She missed the point Jesus was trying to make perhaps because the water in Jacob’s well was known as ‘living’ water because it was fed by an underground stream rather than from a cistern.  Its water was running and fresh, constantly being renewed rather than lying stagnant and still at the bottom of the well.

Jesus was also talking about living water, but the water he was offering was far better than the physical water in the bottom of the well, “those who drink of the water I will give will never be thirsty.  The water that I give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.”  This can only be spiritual water, water that feeds the soul.

Last week we heard Jesus talking to Nicodemus, he told him, “Very truly, I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God without being born of water and Spirit.”

Perhaps we can draw a link between these two verses that closely follow each other in John’s Gospel.  Water and the Spirit go hand in hand; the living water that will gush through us is the Holy Spirit.  We are constantly ‘fed’ by the Spirit, through God’s Word, in worship and throughout our everyday lives.

Jesus explained to this Samaritan woman at the well that her way of worshipping was incorrect, because the Samaritans worshipped what they didn’t know.  Jesus explained that those who worship the Father, his Father, our Father, must do so in Spirit and in truth.  No longer in a particular place like Mount Gerazim or in Jerusalem, but true worshippers will worship the Father in virtue of the life, freedom, and power bestowed by the Spirit, based on the work that he was about to do for us all by bearing our sins upon himself and taking them to death on the cross.

When we worship we come to the waters to drink, to have our thirst quenched.  It’s not so much the how or where, but who we come to worship.  We come to worship the Father in Spirit and truth as guided by God’s word.  In doing so we receive that living water from him.  We come together in his name; we confess our sins to him and hear his absolution spoken to us through the pastor, by Christ’s authority.  We beg for his mercy and sing his praise, we pray to him and hear his word, directly from Scripture and proclaimed to us once again through the pastor.  We confess our common faith with the whole church on earth and then gather together with angels, archangels and all the company of heaven as we share together his body and blood, shed for us for the forgiveness of our sins.  Then we leave with his blessing for us, to go with us each and every day in the week to come, our thirst quenched.

Even when you compare our physical situation to the Israelites or even the people of Samaria, we are truly blessed to have hot and cold running water and plenty to drink.

Our country may be suffering from one of the worst droughts in its history, even though in the last few weeks a number of areas have been flooded by torrential rain, but in thousands of churches and schools around the country living water is flowing constantly.  God’s word is being proclaimed and his sacraments are being administered week in and week out, what a blessing it is that we in this country are able to practice our faith openly and without persecution.  Let’s rejoice in this and take advantage of it! 

Sometimes in our lives, for one reason or another there might be a bit of a drought, where we haven’t been receiving the living water for a while.  Then we suddenly realize that we can’t do without the living water in our lives and we do come to receive it.

As we read in Isaiah, “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost."  We have the invitation, we have the host, there are no barriers, Come!

Amen.