Text: John 4:5-26 (emph. v. 14) "...but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life."
Dear friends in Christ Jesus:
Intro: We need water. I'm not just talking in general, that all people need water. That is true. But the fact is, we need water! Here! Now!
Yeah, we had a little moisture last week; a little rain, a little snow. But from what I understand, continued lack of significant precipitation could mean disaster for our farming and ranching communities.
I. Our need for water (and our appreciation for water) may serve to help us understand more fully the situation in our text. Palestine (including Samaria, the setting of our text) was and is a dry, arid place. That well, where Jesus met the woman, was a very important source of a very important commodity: water.
But the lesson that we learn here is not a physical one. It’s spiritual. All the water in all the wells in all the world is still not enough to quench our most important thirst... our spiritual thirst.
All too often, however, our spiritual thirst, our spiritual needs, are not something we like to talk about. Our spiritual needs stem from the fact that we are sinners. And who wants to talk about sin? Who want to bring up shortcomings about themselves?
It’s easier just to keep quiet about it. If you keep it suppressed and don’t talk about it (it seems) everything will be OK. You won’t rock the boat. It can just be your little secret.
Like the woman at the well in our text. She had a lot of little secrets. But these little secrets were brought to light by Jesus when he told her to go get her husband. There was a man at her house, a man she lived with. She could have gone home and gotten him. But he was not her husband.
She did have a husband at one time. Actually she had had five. But they weren't her husbands any more. The woman at the well was not planning on bringing all this up in her conversation with Jesus. She wasn't planning on telling him her secrets. She just wanted to leave it at: "I have no husband."
But she soon learned that you can't hide anything from God. He knows. And hiding things, trying to keep secrets away from him only makes a dry spiritual condition even worse.
II. What little secrets do you have? What are you trying to hide from God? The example from our text could be a very modern situation. There are a number of people who have had more than one spouse. And the one they have now is not their spouse.
But this example is just one of many. None of us is immune from sin's temptation. None of us is immune from the daily attacks of the devil, the world, and our sinful nature. And when they attack, and when we give in to their temptation by sinning, being the good Christians we're supposed to be... well, maybe it's just better to keep quiet about it. Maybe it’s just better to pretend it never happened. Maybe it’s just better it… from others, from ourselves, from God.
III. One of the most common ways to try and hide things from God is to avoid going to church. If you stay away from church you don't have to hear about how terrible sin is. You don't have to hear about how much God hates sin. And you don't have to hear about the fact that the way you go about handling your problems is sinful… and that you are a sinner. And if you don’t hear about that, then you don't have to worry about it. Out of sight... out of mind.
But that's not us. We haven't stayed away. We have assembled here in the presence of God. We've put on our Sunday best, and we're ready to take whatever it is God has to give us. As long as it's something we want to hear.
IV. Jesus used the analogy of water to describe to the woman at the well what he had to give. This isn't the first time in the Bible that we hear about God giving water. And it certainly isn't the last time either.
And while we'd like to think of the water that God gives as being "life-giving," let's remember... that's not always the case.
In Genesis 6 we read that God sent water to "wipe from the earth every living creature (he) had made." Only Noah, his family, and the animals God told Noah to bring with him on the ark were saved from that flood. Everybody else was drowned.
The story of Noah's Ark is not a cute story about an old man who loved animals. It's a vicious story, about God's wrath against the wickedness of man's sin.
Are there any other stories in the Bible about water? How about the Children of Israel and the Red Sea, when Pharaoh and the entire Egyptian army were coming down on them, and God opened a way for the Israelites through the sea on dry ground, but when the Egyptians tried to go through the sea on dry ground like the Israelites, they were drowned when God caused the walls of water to come crashing down on them.
V. For both of these cases (Noah and the Red Sea), we've emphasized the negative: God's elimination of the evil element. But there's a positive side to both stories too: the fact that these are stories of rescue. Rescue for Noah and his family. Rescue for the Israelites.
So how else is water used in the Bible to describe what God gives, especially now with rescue in mind? How about John the Baptist... down at the Jordan River, preaching a Baptism... a Baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
The text for our meditation is John 4:5-26. But just before our text, in John 4:1-4, we read that Jesus was gaining and baptizing more disciples than John. We're told then that Jesus left Judea and went back to Galilee. And on his way he stopped in Samaria, where he had the conversation we've been talking about with the woman at the well. It was a conversation about water... Living water... Water that will become a spring of water welling up to eternal life.
VI. Is it just a coincidence that right after St. John tells us about Jesus baptizing (or rather, his disciples doing the baptizing) … was it a coincidence that he then tells us that Jesus talked to this woman about Living Water? I don't think so.
Just as the Living Water Jesus had to give was not like the ordinary water in the well, the water of Holy Baptism is not just simple water either. But, as Martin Luther says, it is the water comprehended in God's command and connected with God's word.
And when it's all said and done... God's Word is what it's all about.
For the person who is keeping secrets from God, God's word is not pleasant. "Many hardened sinners, Lord, flee in terror at your Word." That’s a line from the hymn: “Speak, O Lord, your servant listens. And it reminds us of the terror that God’s Law has in store for sinners, sinners like you and me.
God's Word is a storm... a deluge that wreaks havoc on sin and wickedness. It's a light that exposes evil deeds. Not just deeds but evilNESS... our nature, which is sinful.
VII. But as those deeds are exposed... as that nature is exposed, that's where God comes in with his cleansing flood, with his super cleansing agent, that washes away those sins.
As the Psalmist says in Psalm 51: "Purge me with hyssop and I shall be clean. Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow."
Another hymn goes like this:
There is a fountain filled with blood
Drawn from Immanuel's veins.
And sinners plunged beneath that flood
Lose ALL their guilty stains.
All of our guilt... all of our sins... washed away by the blood that Jesus shed on the cross at Calvary. Immanuel (God with us) shed his blood... suffered and died the penalty for our sins... sins which he took upon himself... sins which he took away from us.
VIII. And so, that Baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, that repentance is our opportunity to unload our sins on Jesus...
...those obvious sins that we do every day and are aware of, and just hate when we do them. We can unload those sins on Jesus. And he takes them and gets rid of them.
And also... those secret sins?.. the ones we can't even face ourselves?.. the ones we try to push out of sight, out of mind? That repentance is an opportunity to unload those sins on Jesus too. Admit them! Confess them! Get them out in the open! And let Jesus take them from you. Let him take them with him… to the cross… and get rid of them.
Nailed to the cross, they die with him. "As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us."
IX. Yes, I'm still talking about Baptism. Because that's where Jesus applied his efforts for you on the cross to you personally. And whether your baptism took place yesterday, or 10 years ago, or 100 years ago, Jesus invites you to return to your baptism daily... in contrition and repentance...
... where the evil, wicked, sinful nature is drowned, and where the new self comes forth and arises... raised with our risen Lord and Savior Jesus Christ... washed clean by the Living Water that wells up to eternal life.
In a watery grave are buried
All our sins that Jesus carried
Christ, the Ark of Life has ferried
Us across death’s raging flood.
Concl: May God grant you Living Water that wells up to eternal life. Amen.
And the peace of God which passes all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen