John 4:1-26
Give Me The Living Water

Authored By Rev. Takao Kiyohiro, Tokyo, Japan

1. Humans regularly experience thirst. Physical thirst is quenched and satisfied by taking in water. However, it is not only physical thirst that humans experience. They also have psychological thirst. In this brutal world it is not easy to keep a heart and mind that is always flowing over with charm. In every day life and living, in relationships with others, wounded, completely dried up and desiccated hearts and minds require a special drenching and quenching or healing. I'd say some people come to the church in search for this type of healing. But, the thirst humans experience is not that alone. Even though physical thirst is satisfied, even though psychological thirst is satisfied, there is a deeper thirst at root, which is still not satisfied. I can use the phrase "thirst of life" to express it, and the most important thing for a person is that this thirst of life be satisfied.

Give Me That Water

2. In today's passage of scripture, a woman appears on the scene. Her name is not given in the text. It is only written that [she is] "a woman from Samaria." She knows [her] physical thirst. Unless she has water, she will thirst. So that's why, she came to the well to draw water, today included. In addition, she must surely know [her] psychological thirst. Later, Jesus will state about her as follows: "You used to have five husbands, and the one who is currently your companion is not your husband," (verse eighteen). She has sought for a man one after the other, and now the reason she had been making a living with a man "who was not her husband" was not just because she needed support for material living. I think it was also because she had psychological needs there as well. Her journey [in life] shows a need that repeatedly had to be satisfied, a thirst that repeatedly had to be quenched.

3. This woman [thirsty and needy as she was] met up with Jesus. That's this scene. The scene is the Samaritan town of Sychar. Why did Jesus go there? "He left Judea and went to Galilee again. But, he had to pass through Samaria," (verses three and four), says the scripture. This was not because there was only [one] path that went through Samaria. There was also a route to go to Galilee without going through Samaria. Much rather, if it were the average Jew, he would avoid the land of the historically antagonistic Samaritans, and approach towards Galilee by way of the east side of the Jordan River. Therefore, this was not necessitated based on conditions. It was necessitated because of God's will. Because it was God's will, Christ went through Samaria, and met up with the woman at the town of Sychar. The same could be said about us. Our meeting up with Christ and thus worshipping him together was in no way the results of chance. It was necessitated by God. Christ was supposed to meet up with us and he did so.

4. Then, Christ spoke to the Samaritan woman. He began to speak to her about "the gift of God" and about "the living water." "If you knew the gift of God, and if you knew who the one is who said, 'Please give me water to drink,' you would have requested of him and he would have given you living water," (verse ten).

5. It was around [the time of] a scorching hot midday sun. [She] would probably sense a physical thirst. Yet, [her] physical thirst would be quenched with water drawn from Jacob's well. Or even regarding psychological thirst, it might have been satisfied to some extent by the man "who was not her husband" but who was her companion at the moment. But, Christ said, "If you knew who I was, you would be asking [me] for the living water." The Lord saw in her a deeper thirst still. It was not physical thirst, it was not psychological thirst, but in regard to the root thirst of life she had a need for the living water, the life giving water.

6. What does [he] mean [by] "living water?" Through Jeremiah the prophet the Lord once made the following statement. "My people have truly committed two evils. They have thrown me away as their source of living water, and they have dug out cisterns of no use, broken cisterns, which cannot save water," (Jeremiah 2:13). The source of "the living water" is God himself. The living waters, that quench the thirst of life, come flowing out from God. As we will soon come to in our reading in this gospel, living waters means to know God's Spirit which flows from God, which is the same as the Holy Spirit (John 7:39).

7. So, how does a person receive the living water? Jesus said to the Samaritan woman, "If you knew the gift of God, and if you knew who the one is who said, 'Please give me water to drink.' ... " That's right. She had to know first of all "who the one is" who was standing before her eyes. Therefore, Jesus made it clear [to her] first of all who he himself was. "Whoever drinks this water will thirst again. But, whoever drinks the water that I give will never thirst. The water that I give will become a well spring within [him or her] and the water that leads unto eternal life will gush forth," (verses thirteen and fourteen).

8. First off we must know Jesus Christ. He was not merely a great teacher. He was not one of the numerous sect founders and neither was he a psychic. One theologian said, "Jesus did not bring one of the new religions into the world, but he did bring new life. He came to give water. He was the one who came to give the living water.

9. Then the Lord said, "[Had] you 'asked him' he would have given you the living water." So, what did the Samaritan woman do? She said, "O Lord, give me that water that I never thirst and won't have to come here to draw," (verse fifteen). As we understand from the statement "[I] won't have to come here to draw," the statement here is based on a great misunderstanding. But, the words in and of themselves are not mistaken. "Please give me that water." We are to ask for it like that. We should make a simple request for it to Him who will give it to us.

With Spirit And Truth

10. But, the act of our turning our glance on Christ and saying "Please give me that water," at the same time, is also the act of "our own" standing before the glance of Christ as we make that request.

11. Then all of a sudden, Jesus said the following to the Samaritan woman who had asked for the water. "Go and call your husband here." At once she answered, "I don't have a husband." But, the Lord said, "You said, 'I don't have a husband.' That's exactly right like you said. You have had five husbands, and the man you are currently with is not your husband. You have told it like it is," (verses 17-18).

12. This must have been the topic she wanted to avoid the most. This was probably the reason that she deliberately came to the well at midday, [a time] when others did not come to draw water. There was a shadowy part in her life, which she did not want others to touch, which she did not want to bring to light. But, before the glance of Christ it was all out in the open. Trying to look as if nothing happened, she had a word with Jesus as a peer. She said, "Are you greater than our father Jacob?" and more besides. But now then, she could not help but stand before Christ as a miserable sinner who had dragged along a past so filled with rips and tears. That's how it is when one stands before the Christ.

13. It's the same for us. There is no true salvation in standing before the Christ as if we were somebody [else] having put the sinful self of our past somewhere else and having put the wretched self of our every day normal living somewhere else and after having discussed Jesus and Christianity while looking down on [them both] from above. As long as we are doing that, we will not be able to ask for the living water. In asking for the living water we have to stand before the Christ as sinners alone. We need to admit the way we are as Christ sees us. So, unless we stand before the look of Christ in that way, we will will not be able to ask for the living water [of him].

14. But, she still attempts a little bit more of a slight resistance. She says, "O Lord, I perceive that you are a prophet. Our forefathers worshipped on this mountain, but you [and your people] have said that the place we ought to worship at is Jerusalem," (verses nineteen and twenty). She skirted the topic that directly had to do with her, and brought up a general religious topic of discussion. It was Mount Gerizim which the Samaritan woman was calling "this mountain." Was Mount Gerizim or Jerusalem the holy place chosen by God? This was the biggest argument in the religious debates that spanned for several hundred years among the Samaritans and the Jews. But, debates like this are frequently used like a magic cloak of invisibility. Even today, often times when we have before us something about our actual daily lives, when we have before us something to question the relationship between us and God, we try to escape into some religious discussion.

15. But, Jesus pressed on to the core of the topic using her question to him as a segway. He began to speak on true worship. "The time is coming when you will worship the father in a place that is neither this mountain nor Jerusalem. ... The time is coming when those who give true worship will worship the father with spirit and truth. Now is that time. -- Because the father is seeking those who worship him in this way. God is a spirit. Therefore, those who worship God must worship with spirit and truth," (verses twenty-one through twenty-four). The problem is neither Mount Gerizim nor Jerusalem. It is whether or not you are worshipping God the Father with spirit and truth. Jesus Christ was sent by God and came in order to make us worshippers with spirit and truth. Therefore, the Lord says, "Now is the time" when the Christ has come.

16. Christ is the very truth that makes a person a true worshipper. Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life," (John 14:6). Jesus has revealed the father to us. We no longer worship God in some vague way. We worship God the Father, who has given us even his son without sparing him, that he would forgive our sins. Christ is the very truth which has shown God the Father to us.

17. This Christ has given the living water to us. "The living water" which the Lord graciously gives to us is the Spirit of God which makes a person a true worshipper. The quenching and the satisfying of the thirst of life is found in worshipping God the Father and living in a relationship with him through the Holy Spirit whom the Lord has given us. We have to ask him for it and say, "O Lord, please give me that water."

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