Where Do You Go When You Are Stressed? John 4: Lifepath Church. September 25, 2016

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1 Where Do You Go When You Are Stressed? John 4: 1-30 Lifepath Church September 25, 2016 When Jesus meets another person, there is a great chance that person will be changed. We see this over and over again in the Scriptures. He walks up to four fishermen and says, Follow me and I will make you fishers of men and, in the blink of an eye, their destiny is changed. He meets a man born blind, a dishonest tax collector, a woman by a well and suddenly everything they thought about life is altered. When a person encounters Jesus, there is a good chance that everything in that person s life will get turned upside down. And the reason why we talk about these things is because even after two thousand years people are still meeting Jesus. It is the core belief of our faith that Jesus Christ is not dead. He is alive. That s what Easter is all about. The stone has been rolled away. The tomb is empty. He is risen. We know that Jesus is alive because he continues to meet people through the power of Holy Spirit. Sometimes we meet him in the words of a sermon. Other times we meet him when we read his words in the Scriptures. Sometimes, the power of his presence comes upon us when we are alone or when we are in worship or when are alone and brokenhearted. Sometimes we meet him simply through the words of a friend. Jesus continues to meet with people. The chances are good that most of the folks in this room

2 2 are here because in some shape, form, or fashion, we have encountered the Risen Lord. That s why we re here at all. And when he meets us, there is the chance, no, the opportunity for our lives to be changed. How exactly are we changed? What happens when we encounter the Son of God? Let s look at one story from the Scriptures and see if we can learn something. Read with me now the story of Jesus encounter with a woman at a well in the land of Samaria which is found in the fourth chapter of John, beginning with verse five. Listen now to the Word of God. (Read John 4: 1-30 NLT) A woman sees a tired Jewish man sitting by a well. And the first thing he does is surprise her. He asks her to lower her jar into the well and get him something to drink. She laughs at him. What? You re asking me a no-good dirty Samaritan to get you some water? Won t I contaminate you? Won t I make you unclean? (v. 9 paraphrased) Jesus turns the tables on her by offering to serve her. You should be asking me for water. If you knew who I was you would be asking me for the Living Water. (v. 10 paraphrased) Already we see something. Before we truly encounter him, we are often more worried about what he is going to ask us to do for him: I m not sure I want to get any closer to God because he may ask me to do something hard. He might make me give up any kind of fun! He might want me to be a missionary in Outer Mongolia. Well, it is certainly true that he will probably ask us to do things. But what truly changes our lives when we meet the Lord is not what we offer him but what he offers us. Ask me, and I would give you living water.

3 3 We, might be a bit skeptical about that. It s a natural human reaction. We ve been promised things before and the promises weren t always fulfilled. The woman was certainly skeptical, wasn t she? Living water? You don t even have a bucket? How are you going to provide this water? And who do you think you are anyway? Do you think you re greater than our ancestor Jacob who made this well? (vv paraphrased) She s a practical person isn t she? She challenges Jesus on two levels. How are you going to provide this water? And who are you to think you can do better than what I already have? But he doesn t become angry with her. Isn t wonderful how, even when we doubt him and question him, he stays patient with us? He simply tells her more about what he s offering her. Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. (v NLT) What is he saying? What I have to give you is so much more wonderful than anything you can get for yourself. She gets a little confused here. She decides she likes the sound of this but she still thinks he s talking about physical water because she says, Give me this water! Then I ll never be thirsty again, and I won t have to come here to get water. (v. 15 NLT) But he s not talking about physical water here. What is he talking about? What is the Living Water that Jesus is offering? He offers it to everyone he meets. What is the Living Water? There are several clues in this passage. Look back in verse 14 and see what Jesus says the Living Water produces: It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within (us), giving (us) eternal life. (v 14 NLT) What is eternal life? It is a life lived in fellowship with God. And this is eternal life, that

4 4 they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. (John 17: 3 NRSV) Eternal life is when our life and God s life become knit together in intimate relationship that his life flows into us and our lives get shared with him. The Living Water Jesus offers gushes up within us and produces this life-giving relationship with God. That s a pretty good clue. The Living Water produces a relationship with God. So what is it? The Living Water represents two things and Jesus gives both of them. If you look a little further down in the passage he refers to them. Jesus is talking to the woman about worshiping God. He says, But the time is coming indeed it s here now when true worshipers, will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him in that way. (v. 23 NLT) Realize that worship is not just something you do while singing a song on Sunday morning. By worship he means that life of intimacy with God. And these things happen through truth and the spirit. Interestingly, both of these things are symbolized by water imagery in the Scriptures. Proverbs 13: 14 says, The instruction of the wise is like a life-giving fountain. (Proverbs 13: 14 NLT) Proverbs 18: 4 says, Wisdom flows from the wise like a bubbling brook (Proverbs 18: 4 NLT). Wisdom is knowing the truth about God which Jesus reveals. Jesus says, I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to Father except through me. (John 14: 6 NLT) Jesus reveals the truth of who God is. That truth is necessary for a relationship with God. That truth is Living Water. But we need more than truth. We need more than information about God, however wonderful. I need to experience God. And so the second thing necessary is the

5 5 Spirit. And the Holy Spirit is also referred to as being like water. Jesus said, Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, Rivers of living water will flow from his heart. When he said, living water, He was speaking of the Spirit, who would be given to everyone believing in him. (John 7: NLT) It s through the Holy Spirit that we experience the real presence of God in us and with us. Truth and Spirit these are the Living Water that produce a relationship with God. And they both come from Jesus. It s doubtful the woman at the well understood all of this at that moment. But she realizes Jesus is offering her something pretty good, so she says, I ll take some. I d like some of that Living Water. And it s that moment that Jesus says, Well go and get your husband and come back. (John 4: 16 NLT) What is going on here? He s offering her the Living Water. But before she can accept it, truly accept it, she not only has to realize who Jesus is, she has to come to terms with who she is. Jesus is challenging her to be honest with him and tell him who she really is: Go and get your husband. At first she kind of dodges the question, doesn t she? Husband? I, uh, don t have any husband. (John 4: 17 NLT paraphrased) Jesus calls her out. That s right, in fact you ve had five husbands, and you arent even married to the man you re living with now. (John 4: 18 NLT) Now, if you get one divorce, you may have made some mistake. Or maybe your spouse made some mistake. But five divorces starts to look like you might be the problem. The implication with this woman is that she jumps from man to man. Now why would Jesus choose this moment to lay all of this woman s dirty laundry out in front of them? At this moment he is offering her the Living Water and he points out to her that

6 6 all of her life she s been trying to quench her thirst for life in ways that do not satisfy. In order to receive what Jesus is offering, namely the Truth of Who God and a relationship she is going to put all these other things down. Now we don t know why this woman lived as she lived. Why did she go from man to man? Maybe it was psychological. Maybe romance was how she increased her self-esteem. Some folks flirt because the attention makes them feel better about themselves. Maybe it was economical: she was trading up for the guy with a few more camels. Maybe she just couldn t get along with people. We don t know exactly what was going on in her life. We don t need to. The thing is that this was how she chose to cope with the stress of life by going from man to man. That is what how she coped with life s difficulties. That was how she was trying to quench her thirst for a full life. Jesus says that the only water that can satisfy our thirst is the Living Water of a life of intimacy with him through Truth of what he reveals about God and the Holy Spirit that he offers. And we say, I know I know. You see, I already have this Living Water. I was converted when I was younger. Well, people tell us they are converted but we don t always see a lot of converted lives, do we? Remember we said that when Jesus truly encounters people their lives are changed. It s not just their thinking that is changed: I used to not believe in God but now I do. No, their lives are changed. Here is the key question: people can say they have the Living Water but where are they actually trying to quench their thirst? So many people are trying to quench their thirst in the same way they were before they ever met the Lord. My own personal temptation is to retreat from the world into a book or a computer game. It s not that those things are

7 7 wrong. There s nothing wrong with reading a book or a playing a game, but if I go to them to escape my burdens when I should go to God in prayer with my burdens, then I am trying to drink from a dry well. I am cutting myself off from the living water. If I do that long enough, my life will lack power. And I while I may say that I know God, my life will look like those who don t know God. And if my life looks the same as an unbeliever s, how real is my relationship with God? What about you? Where do you go when you are under stress? How do you find comfort? Do you bury yourself in work or a hobby? Do you turn on the TV and turn off the world? Do you run out to buy something to make yourself feel better? Just a quick trip to the hardware store or the shoe store! Do you eat when you are stressed? Do you drink? Do you flirt to keep up your self esteem? It is a crucial question to ask ourselves if we are going to the Lord whose Spirit abides within us when we are stressed. Do we trust him enough to go to him for what we need? Or will we go back to the same dry wells we used before we knew him. Where do you go when you re thirsty? Remember the words of Jesus: Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life. (John 4: NLT) Amen

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