SERMON: ASK, AND GET THE GIFT OF LIVING WATERS (9.5.21)
Introduction to the Message
We one week closer to Revival Sunday, and we continue our preparation for an extraordinary work of the Holy Spirit. Today, let’s focus on giving the Lord something he values: our time, our hearts, and our love; and watching for his response to us. We may be overwhelmed by His grace and response!
There is something extremely compelling of the story of the Lord and the Samaritan woman. Maybe it’s the simple interaction, maybe it’s the intimacy of the conversation which we feel we are a silent witness to, maybe it’s Jesus’ humility in revealing himself to someone the society would consider a “nobody.” To the Jews, Samaritans were low class, and a woman married five times had to be near the bottom of their society. Even those who assemble biblical texts decided on a subtitle for this passage which only describes Jesus meeting a Samaritan woman…nothing about what he revealed to her about herself or about himself.
The passage starts with Jesus at a water well made famous because of its Old Testament ties to Jacob. It’s not coincidental that Jesus comes to drink at a well one of his ancestors dug and also used. That is part of the way he revealed himself as the Messiah—through his lineage.
The passage makes it clear that the Samaritan woman wasn’t reluctant to give Jesus a drink. She was respectful of the cultural tradition that Samaritans, although they were descended from the Israelite tribe of Benjamin, were now considered impure by Jews because they split off from the southern Israelites during the time of the prophet Eli. Samaritans today are residents of the West Bank, which today is inhabited by both Jews and Palestinians.
The woman also took Jesus’ use of the term “living waters” literally, asking “where can you get this water, are you greater than our father, Jacob?” She likely was thinking that it would be easier to access this water than to lower her bucket every day. Jesus treats her with respect, teaching her the real meaning of the term living waters.
What we see is Jesus’ humility and the respect he showed this woman by continuing to instruct her and even sharing more about himself, even though that was out of bounds culturally.
The woman was willing to give Jesus a drink, Jesus was about to quench her eternal thirst. First, though, he had to test her willingness to hear more, and so he asked a question about her husband even though he knew fully well the answer. This woman didn’t have a current husband—she had had five. I think Jesus was making a point for us today—he can appear without warning and to everyone—not just those who think they are ready to receive him. We can only guess why the woman had five husbands but again, culturally, even as a Samaritan that had to be a situation which diminished her status in her town. Jesus was making a point that the “last shall be first.”
Jesus cares for each one of us individually and is willing to meet us personally where we are and to share the living waters (knowledge of himself) with each of us. What are you willing to give him as we enter into our time of asking for more of the Holy Spirit to get more of Jesus and the Spirit?
I think an hourglass is a good metaphor of giving and getting. You have to give something up to get more of the Holy Spirit. Think about the top part of an hourglass being our bodies, our sins, and all those things that get in the way of a closer relationship with our Lord. As that runs out, it makes more room for the blessings of the Holy Spirit. We can make as much room as we want.
The apostle Paul writes that as our bodies decrease, our spirituality increases. He is talking about aging and the slow physical changes which happen as we age. Here again is the hourglass metaphor. As we age physically, we have the opportunity to strengthen ourselves spiritually. How can we ask the Lord for a strengthened spirit?
The Samaritan woman, when she realized that she was talking with a prophet, immediately asked for the living water…not the indwelling of the Spirit, because she did not understand that Jesus the Messiah, would offer her eternal life. 23 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. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”
God does not want us to settle for a secondary goal like physical, thirst-quenching water—he wants us to receive the full blessing of living water. Just like the Samaritan woman, our understanding is often too limited, and our expectations too low in comparison to what God has planned for us.
Father, we thank you for this world, for your light, and for your grace and faithfulness in us. We try to show you how much we love you, and we await with prayer and urgent anticipation the visit of the Holy Spirit as we pray for the spiritual revival of our community.
Please consider this thought as you pray this week:
-- Father, thank you for everything you do for us. Help me to empty myself to make room for more of you.