Faithlife Sermons

Living Water

The Gospel of John  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  48:38
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Tired of trying to find something to satisfy your soul? Find lasting satisfaction through the living water Jesus offers to those who follow him.

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I know it is a little colder today, but there is nothing quite as satisfying as a cold glass of water on a hot day, is there?
Don’t you love that feeling where you drink something cold enough that you can feel the water cooling you off on the inside?
You know what is tough about that, though? That feeling never lasts, does it?
We try to make the water stay cold—that’s why we will spend $40 on a Yeti cup or a Hydroflask. We keep buying them because this one can keep water cold for 2 hours more than the last one we bought!
No matter how hard we try, though, the water eventually warms up or you get hot again. Maybe the water bottle you grabbed sat out overnight and the water tastes stale, and it just doesn’t sit right.
What if, on a miserably hot day, someone told you that there was a water you could drink that would satisfy you completely forever?
Doesn’t that sound good?
As we look at John 4 this morning, we see a tired Jesus talking with a troubled woman.
Through their conversation, we are going to see this critical truth: Jesus is the only one who can satisfy our soul’s deepest thirst.
Let’s read the first ten verses of this chapter to get the picture of what is happening, and then we will explain how Jesus gives us living water that satisfies our soul...
Before we dive into the meat of the message, I have to take just a minute to look at one incredible statement that we see in verse 6 - “Jesus, worn out from his journey...”
Isn’t it incredible, almost impossible, to believe this phrase?
After all, isn’t Jesus God? Isn’t he the one who created the world and all those things we looked at in chapter 1?
He absolutely is, and he never stopped being that.
However, as we also saw in chapter 1, he took on a physical body that was impacted by the curse of sin just like yours and mine.
Not only that, but Philippians 2 tells us that Jesus laid aside his rights to use his divine attributes on his own when he took on flesh.
You put all that together and you see a picture of a God who loved us enough to come to live with us and feel everything it means to be human; so much so that he was able to get physically exhausted on a long journey on a hot day.
Yet, even as exhausted as he was, Jesus still takes the time to engage a person others would have avoided and give her the hope and life that her soul was searching for.
Let’s explain a few cultural items that we find in verse 7.
The individual Jesus was speaking with had two strikes against her right off the bat in the eyes of most Jewish men.
First, she was a woman. In those days, it was improper for a man to carry on a conversation with a woman in public, even his own wife. We see that reflected in verse 27 when we see what the disciples think when they see Jesus with her.
Not only that, she is also a Samaritan woman.
Samaritans were considered half-breeds by the Jews. They had abandoned the way God told them to worship back and didn’t come to Jerusalem and the Temple like they were supposed to. Not only that, they intermarried with other nations that got brought in during the time when most of Israel was carried off to Assyria and Babylon.
In the eyes of most Jews, the best thing you could do for a Samaritan was avoid them. In fact, they were willing to add an additional day to their journey to go around where the Samaritans lived.
Where is Jesus, though? In the middle of Samaria, talking with a woman alone.
You can tell in her response to him that she is surprised. Look at verse 9.
That brings us down to verse 10, where Jesus introduces the main idea we want to trace this morning.
He offers her living water, which is a bit of a play on words. In one sense, “living water” is how you would refer to fresh water that flowed from a spring, as opposed to stagnant water from a well or cistern.
However, Jesus uses the term “living water” to express a unique spiritual reality in the book of John. In some places, Jesus says that he himself is living water. In others, he says that he will give people living water.
This particular use looks a lot like how Jesus spoke of living water elsewhere:
John 7:37–39 CSB
On the last and most important day of the festival, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. The one who believes in me, as the Scripture has said, will have streams of living water flow from deep within him.” He said this about the Spirit. Those who believed in Jesus were going to receive the Spirit, for the Spirit had not yet been given because Jesus had not yet been glorified.
Here, John tells us that the living water that Jesus gives is the Holy Spirit and the life that he brings.
Jesus promises to give the Spirit of God to those who believe in him.
Like we saw last week, it is the Spirit of God who makes us alive and gives us that new birth.
Back in John 4, we see Jesus describe this new life in terms of living water.
As we go through Jesus’ interaction with the Samaritan woman at the well, we can draw out three effects that come from receiving living water.
The first is that...

1) Living water leads to lasting satisfaction.

Remember how Nicodemus reacted to Jesus’ question last week?
The Samaritan woman has the same kind of reaction—how can this physically happen? Pick up in verse 11.
Jesus didn’t have anything to draw water, so how on earth could he give her any?
In his response, we see Jesus direct her away from the physical and into the spiritual reality he is helping her see. Read verses 13-14...
The living water Jesus offers, the life-giving indwelling of the Holy Spirit living inside those who follow Christ, is the ultimate source of satisfaction.
He isn’t just promising nice spring water; he is actually drawing on imagery God used with his people in the Old Testament:
Jeremiah 2:13 CSB
For my people have committed a double evil: They have abandoned me, the fountain of living water, and dug cisterns for themselves— cracked cisterns that cannot hold water.
God was supposed to be a fountain of living water, bringing life and joy to his people.
Instead, they turned to “cisterns,” which were big underground pits and containers used to collect and store water.
They tried to find their own water, but the places they looked couldn’t hold water and keep them satisfied.
For the Samaritan woman, she was looking to relationships as the cistern that was her source of satisfaction. Look at verses 15-18...
We don’t know what factors led to this, but she went from relationship to relationship seeking something that they would never be able to provide.
We all do this. We think that one more purchase will satisfy us, or that one more promotion will make us feel worth it. Maybe if we got a few more hours of sleep or got to see the kids more often. Maybe if my body looked a certain way, I would finally feel good enough about myself. Just one more drink or one more snack will help me feel better...If this health issue was just gone, or if I could just make it to graduation or retirement or marriage, then I would finally be satisfied.
A lot of those things are good, and it isn’t wrong to set goals; in fact, I encourage it!
The problem is that without resting in the satisfaction that Christ gives, without drinking deeply from the living water he offers, those goals become gods who always disappoint.
That’s what the Samaritan woman had found. No relationship was enough to satisfy the needs of her heart.
In fact, the writer of Proverbs hits the nail on the head when he says:
Proverbs 14:12 CSB
There is a way that seems right to a person, but its end is the way to death.
Following our ideas only leads to death.
Jesus knew that, which is why he told her what he did in verses 13-14...
When we drink from the living water, when we come to Christ and he fills us with his Spirit and gives us life, we find what our hearts are ultimately longing for.
There is a famous quote from Augustine’s Confessions that expresses this truth in prayer:
“You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.” (Augustine of Hippo)
There is nothing on earth that can satisfy your heart’s deepest desires because those deepest desires are to be known and rightly related to the God who made you.
That’s why Jesus said,
Matthew 5:6 CSB
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
When we thirst for the living God by surrendering to Christ, then we can drink deeply of the living water, resting in the life that God has wrought in us by the power of the Spirit of God.
Then, we can enjoy the life God has given us and pursue the goals he sets before us out of the overflow of the water that is springing up inside us.
This may sound abstract and weird because we live in a world where we simply turn on the faucet and get all the water we could ever want.
Think about the context, though. This woman had to come alone in the hottest part of the day to get water. Tomorrow, she would have to do the same, and the next day, and the next day, and the next.
I have been in villages where there are only a few wells, and I have seen how much time gets devoted each day to getting water.
We are doing the same thing spiritually, aren’t we? We have allowed our phones to hijack the dopamine cycles in our brain, so we turn to the well of social media time and time again, hoping that another like or another follow or another funny meme will satisfy that pain in our hearts.
We turn to the news, hoping that the next broadcast will show how right we are and how wrong the other person is, or that maybe this time we will hear the news we have been hoping to hear. We feed on the outrage, hoping that the indignation we feel will warm our hearts enough.
We turn to our kids or our grand kids, hoping that their success will finally validate us.
We turn to our grades, we turn to our paycheck, we turn to any number of things, and none of them will ultimately satisfy your heart.
Jesus says to stop doing that, and instead, come to him for living water.
This isn’t just a call to those who have never followed Christ, by the way.
As believers, we have access to living water. We have tasted it, but instead of turning to Christ over and over and drinking deeply, we keep turning to our own cisterns and live dissatisfied lives where we miss out on the goodness of God.
What do you turn to first when your heart hurts or your feel inadequate or you get bored? How do you respond to success or to blessing?
Stop turning to things that will never satisfy! Instead, turn to Christ to find the water you need.
As you do, you see the second outcome of receiving living water is...

2) Living water leads to true worship.

The woman has realized she is talking to someone special.
However, she doesn’t seem to want to really engage with what Jesus has said about her lifestyle, so she tries to pull the conversation off track and get into a theological debate. Pick up in verses 19-20.
Jesus turns her debate around to show her that he is doing more than what she thinks. Read verses 21-24.
As we mentioned earlier, the Samaritans had set up their own place to worship. They claimed to follow the same God as the Jews, but they had disregarded what he said about how they were supposed to worship him.
She tries to get Jesus to debate her, but he points her to something even greater. Look at verse 23...
With Jesus’ arrival and then later giving the Holy Spirit to his followers, Jesus was taking the emphasis off the sacrifices and worship at the Temple and instead showing that worship takes place in the heart.
We don’t have to make pilgrimages to Jerusalem annually and observe the feasts because Jesus fulfilled all those things—remember what he said about the Temple back in chapter 2?
The emphasis, then, is on us worshiping God in Spirit and in truth.
What does that look like?
We have already brought up the fact that we have a tendency to make goals and good things into gods.
We worship them, giving them the best of our thoughts and devotion and time and money.
For us to worship God, then, he has to place his Spirit inside us so we can direct our thoughts, our devotion, our everything toward him.
That leads us to worship with the deepest parts of us—the spiritual part of us that communes with God:
“Genuine worship does not consist in coming to a certain place nor in going through a certain ritual or liturgy nor even in bringing certain gifts. True worship is when the spirit, the immortal and invisible part of man, speaks to and meets with God, himself immortal and invisible.” [1]
That expresses itself through our attitudes and actions, even through our time of prayer and singing and looking at God’s Word together this morning.
As Jesus fills us with living water, the Spirit allows us to worship God in ways that we couldn’t on our own.
Paul describes on aspect of this in Romans 8:
Romans 8:15–17 CSB
For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear. Instead, you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father!” The Spirit himself testifies together with our spirit that we are God’s children, and if children, also heirs—heirs of God and coheirs with Christ—if indeed we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.
The living water that Jesus offers leads us to recognize that God is our Father and helps us see all the blessings we have in him, which overflows into worship.
This worship is not just spiritual, though. It is also genuine.
We aren’t worshiping fake gods who aren’t able to save, and we aren’t pretending to worship the one true God.
When Jesus gives us living water, when he pours out the Spirit who gives us eternal life, we are actually able to honor, praise, and celebrate the one true God who is worthy of our praise.
Let’s stop and take inventory: Worship is more than just singing, but is singing in church just a thing you do, or does it express the overflow of your heart that desires to praise the God who saves?
I am not saying you are going to get butterflies in your stomach or be moved to tears by every song, but your worship should come from somewhere deep inside you as you seek to honor God in Spirit and in true, genuine expression.
There is one final outcome of receiving the living water Jesus promises:

3) Living water leads to life-changing influence.

A lot of people want to be able to make an impact in the world around them.
As a college student, you may have high hopes and dreams of changing the world through your business, your teaching, your leadership, or your service.
As an adult, those dreams may fade some, but we hope that we will influence our friends or our kids and grand-kids.
What is the greatest way you think you could influence those around you?
Let’s aim big—let’s say that one day, you are able to find the cure for cancer, and it is such a miraculous discovery that you make all your research publicly available for free to the world.
Through your contribution, the world can become cancer-free.
Wouldn’t that be wonderful? It really is something to strive for.
You know what, though? If we cure cancer, people will still die of something else.
That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t strive for the alleviation of pain and suffering in any way we can, but as we do so, we have to acknowledge that all our attempts at making life better will only do so much, because all of us will die at some point.
So, then, what if I told you that you could have an even more lasting impact on people than curing cancer?
What if I told you that God used the living water that overflowed out of this woman’s life to do just that?
After speaking with Jesus and learning he was the Messiah, the woman went back into town.
Look at verses 28-30...
She went back into the village and told others about Jesus.
Jump down to verse 39-42 to see what happened.
“Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of what the woman had said...”
You want to talk about influence?
This woman, whose name is lost to history and whose past was shameful, took a drink of living water that day.
As God worked life in her, she was able to go back to her friends and family and neighbors and help them to come to know Christ as Savior and Lord—to satisfy their spiritual thirst forever.
All of those people have now died, but those who believed in Jesus over those days of his work in Samaria are sitting in heaven right now and will be with God for all eternity.
This woman whose past was riddled with chasing satisfaction found her thirst quenched by Christ. Now, she worships at the throne of God, and she used what time she had with Christ to bring others to him.
It wasn’t her who saved them, but God used her to influence them so they would come hear about Jesus and be saved.
If you have living water in you, the Spirit of God who gives you life that overflows in genuine worship, then don’t you want others to have that as well? Don’t you desire for people to have that same satisfaction that you have found?
When is the last time you asked God to help you influence others to come to Christ? How often do you ask for God to save your friends and family and neighbors, praying for them by name? When was the last time you told someone about what Jesus can do?
You cannot save anyone on your own, but would you ask God for the privilege to be used by him to see someone come to Christ?
Endnote:
[1] Barclay, William, ed. The Gospel of John. Vol. 1. Philadelphia, PA: The Westminster John Knox Press, 1975. Print. The Daily Study Bible Series.
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