Sermon Series: Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places
Title: Look for the Thirst Quencher
John 4:4-25, Exodus 17:3, 5-6
March 24, 2019
Rev. Sandy Johnson
We are coming up on the half way mark of our journey through the 40 days of Lent. Lent, a time of reflection, a time for us to consider what it is like for ourselves to endure the suffering of the cross, the darkness of the tomb and the expectation of resurrection.
I have been thinking this past week a good deal about our own personal suffering, death, and resurrections. I’ve seen this pattern all around us. Take a look at our yards – I was visiting with Lee this week and she shared with me the rebirth that was taking place in her garden. Buds and new growth coming out everywhere on her bushes and trees, seedlings popping their heads up, out of the beds of planter boxes, and new, small green fruit was visible on her kumquat bush.
Just a month ago her garden looked dead, with barren branches that hid the life within them. Through the winter we have lived through the suffering and death of the season. In spring we are beginning to see the signs and hope of rebirth and the renewal that comes when we submit to the process, when we surrender to God and allow God to take our hands and guide us through our own journey toward resurrection.
Lent is our opportunity to focus on God in a unique way and to allow ourselves the opportunity to be refreshed and encouraged, just as the early disciples were in communion with Jesus.
Our series is “looking for love in all the wrong places.” Seems like there is no end to the wrong places we look for love! Right after high school I went to college at Oregon State University. I went through rush and joined a sorority.
One of the things I liked best about being in a sorority was the weekend parties that went on at the local men’s fraternities. Every weekend we would get ourselves dressed up in our skinniest jeans, with the highest platform shoes and spend an hour blowing, curling and spraying our hair. We had to look just right…we were on the prowl! We were looking for love in the basement of the fraternity up the street.
I found a few things at those parties, not sure I ever actually found love. But that’s what we had, that’s what we thought was going to bring happiness to our young co-ed selves.
Some folks look for love in abusive relations, in drugs or alcohol. Others seek satisfaction in life through overwork, shopping, or overeating. In 1670 Blaise Pascal wrote a defense of the Christian religion.
In that book, he writes:
does this craving, and this helplessness, proclaim but that there was once in
man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and
trace? This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him, seeking in
things that are not there the help he cannot find in those that are, though
none can help, since this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite
and immutable object; in other words by God himself.”
– Blaise Pascal, Pensées VII(425)
Whether we acknowledge it or not, we are hard wired to seek God. To attempt to fill the “God shaped hole” that is within us. We are forever searching for the Thirst Quencher!
God has been attempting to demonstrate our whole lives and throughout scripture that he will provide for us. Whether it’s our need for the necessities of life – food, water, shelter or our spiritual and physical needs. In Exodus we read this morning that God’s people were thirsting for water. In fact, they were complaining to Moses as they wandered through the desert that they were hungry, thirsty and wished they had never left Egypt. Moses went to the Lord with this problem and it was solved, water was provided. God is in the habit of providing for our needs.
In our scripture from the Gospel of John, Jesus had a remarkable encounter with a Samaritan woman. God was getting ready to provide for her and her family, just what they also needed.
Jesus and his disciples were heading from Jerusalem to Galilee and chose to take the shortest route, straight through Samaria, instead of going east into Jordan and north to Galilee, circumventing Samaria. No self-respecting Jew would travel in or through Samaria. It was worth doubling the travel time to avoid the Samaritans. They were beneath the Jews, they were despised and living on the “outside.”
Samaritans were Jews, but not Jerusalem Jews. It made a difference. But Jesus didn’t care. Jesus knew that his message of God’s love and grace was to be shared even with the Samaritans. So, Jesus approaches Jacob’s well and instructs his disciples to go ahead into Sychar to get supplies, he would wait by the well, and rest.
It was in the middle of the day and here came a woman to draw water for her household. Thirsty from his travel, Jesus asks her for a drink. Shocked that Jesus would ask such a think of her, she questions Jesus. “How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?”
I imagine that Jesus must have been smiling a bit, he was just waiting to engage her in conversation so he could explain what he was really doing there. Yes, he was thirsty and yes getting a drink was important. But Jesus went right to the heart of the matter. Jesus skipped the insignificant banter and offers her living water. He reveals himself to her, he offers her the living water that will quench her life’s thirst for meaning, her need unconditional love and acceptance, her need for grace.
She doesn’t quite understand what Jesus is talking about. I’m not sure that had we been that woman we would have understood any better. We most often focus on what we can see and feel, the water in the well. It’s harder to get at the spiritual foundation in our lives. It’s harder to understand and accept the living water, the water that quenches our thirst once and for all.
She asks Jesus for this living water and Jesus tells her to go get her husband and come back. Here’s where it gets interesting. Jesus sees through her, she becomes transparent before him as he tells her that she is correct, she doesn’t have a husband because she has already had five and the man she is with, is not one of them.
Jesus continues to tell her what she has been waiting to hear her entire life. The time is now, the hour has come, “when the true worshippers will worship the Father in Spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. (such as you dear Samaritan woman), God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”
Then Jesus blows her mind! He reveals himself to her as Messiah. “I am he.”
This unnamed woman finally finds the love she has been looking for. She can say goodbye to the things that had only brought temporary relief, momentary respite in her search for love. She was face to face with the Messiah, the Son of God, the Redeemer of the universe.
Like this woman we too have tried our entire lives to find and fill ourselves up with the living water, that water that can only be received through Jesus Christ. This living water is the cool, sweet fragrant peace that refreshes our soul. It is God that quenches our thirst. It is God, through Jesus Christ who satisfied our basic need for water.
Through Christ we drink in God’s grace, we allow ourselves to surrender our very lives to following the Risen Christ. Through this surrender we are filled to overflowing with the love of God and we are called to share it, not to keep it for ourselves in selfish fashion; but to touch the lives of others at every opportunity. To demonstrate for the world that we are followers of Jesus Christ, living as he lived, reaching out into the margins of our society and finding those who also need this living water.
With Christ’s living water flowing through us, we become conduits of
God’s grace. We become loving and
passionate, willing to sacrifice ourselves for the needs of our community. The water from the well will quench our
thirst for a day, but with Christ as our foundation we will never, ever thirst
again for the peace of Christ that God has freely given to us. Amen
 John 4:9
 John 4:23-24