IIT UBF - University Bible Fellowship at IIT




Thirst, Hunger & Harvest

Date: Jul. 9, 2017

Author: Dan Bockenfeld

John 4:1-42

Key Verse: John 4:13-14

“Jesus answered, ‘Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.’”

It is good to see everyone here today. Last week, Bob and I were in Malaysia at our friend Ison’s wedding and a conference beforehand. Some of you might know that Ison is an Illinois Tech graduate who was a part of this ministry at the beginning. So, when we heard that Ison was getting married after a conference was over, we decided to go and bless his marriage. It was a beautiful wedding. Ison married Nicky, a woman from the Taiwanese ministry. They seem to be a good couple and a wonderful match for God’s purpose. The day after the wedding, a number of the guests were treated to a tour of the city of Melaka, about a two-hour drive from the conference and wedding place in Kuala Lumpur. Melaka is a World Heritage City with a diverse history. Melaka was colonized by the Portuguese in the 1400’s. They built a fort city around a hill and placed a Catholic church on the top. After the Portuguese, the Dutch took over, but it wasn’t even the Dutch government. It was a Dutch company. The Dutch were Protestant and proceeded to destroy the roof of the Catholic church on the hill. The Dutch then traded Melaka for Indonesia to the British. The Japanese came in during World War II and afterwards the British regained control until the 1950’s. When we came to the city, we went on a walking tour. We visited the remains of a fort with its cannons and then crossed a river to a district with shops and restaurants. We ate and walked around, but it was hot. After we walked around the one side, we crossed back over the river again, had a snack and began to go on. It was hot as the sun had come out and the clouds parted. I personally was overheating. Our tour continued on, through a church and a museum that was the former governor’s office. Then, we started going up the hill to see the ruined Portuguese church. We went up, and there was a glorious breeze at the top. After spending some time at the top, we had to venture back down the other side of the hill to reach the bus. It was a long and hard day and we all became hot, thirsty and hungry. We all experience thirst and hunger, but there are times where we are dying for a drink, but we know that if we were to drink to our fill, there would not be enough for later. We are like that in many parts of our lives. Each of us is here today because we have had something lacking in their lives. There was something missing that we tried to fill with friends, family, food, money, things and on and on. We were not satisfied with what we could find. Instead, we wanted something more, something that would last. The passage that we are going to go through today will show us how to satisfy our thirst and hunger.

Our passage starts out today, “Now Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that he was gaining and baptizing more disciples than John—although in fact it was not Jesus who baptized, but his disciples. So, he left Judea and went back once more to Galilee.” (1-3) Right in these verses here there are three different people and groups. First there is Jesus, but there is also John. This John is John the Baptist or John the Baptizer. He was a man who lived an eccentric life in the wilderness wearing camel’s hair and eating locusts and honey. He was a man called by God to prepare people hearts for the coming of God’s Son. He was very prominent during Jesus’ early ministry and John was the one who first showed people that Jesus was God’s Chosen One or Messiah. John’s job was to point people to Jesus and call them to repent through baptism. Now, after Jesus started his ministry, he too was baptizing people, well, not him but his disciples. John started the process, but Jesus would finish and give salvation. Their ministries were related, in a sense. Now the Pharisees are the third group. The Pharisees were a Jewish political party, which focused very much on following the Law. They were legalists in the strictest sense. They believed that by following the law, they would be the perfect people and they had the perfect ego to go along with it. Now, the situation is that Jesus’ ministry is getting larger while John’s ministry is declining, and this was drawing the attention of the Pharisees. At this stage in Jesus’ ministry, it wasn’t time to confront the religious leaders of the era. So, in order to avoid conflict at this point in time, Jesus left Judea in the south to return to Galilee in the north, where he was from.

Our passage continues, “Now he had to go through Samaria.” (4) Now, this is an interesting sentence. He had to go through Samaria. Samaria was the land in the middle between Judea and Galilee. So, Galilee is in the north, then Samaria and then Judea. When the passage says that Jesus had to go through Samaria, it could just mean geographically. Samaria is between the two, so to go from one to the other you have to go through it. Now, Samaria is a fascinating land. It was a region that was originally Jewish, but the people of the land mingled with the surrounding peoples. They married and had children with foreigners. The other Jews, the ones in Judea and Galilee, were very proud of their identity. They thought foreigners were unclean people, but they thought of the Samaritans even less than that. The Samaritans were Jews that betrayed their heritage. They were half-breeds with impure blood. The Jews didn’t like foreigners, but they liked the Samaritans even less. Many Jews avoided even setting foot in Samaria and preferred taking the long road through foreign territory. So, when the passage says that Jesus had to go through Samaria, it is an unusual statement. Jesus had to go through Samaria, not because of geographical reasons, but because of one person.

Before we get in to that person, there is some more background information that the passage gives. “So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon.” (5-6) When Jesus was in Samaria, he became tired. Here, we can see Jesus’ humanity. Jesus is the Son of God, but he was also a man. He still had the limitations of being human, like the need for food, water and rest. When he came to a town called Sychar, Jesus sat down by a well, but this well had some historical significance. It was a well that Jacob had dug. Now, Jacob had lived thousands of years before the time of this passage. He was one of Abrahams’ grandchildren and was the father of the nation of Israel, since he also had the name Israel. In this area, a well would have been in significant use on a continuous basis, so it would have been well kept and could have lasted thousands of years.

As Jesus sat by the well, a Samaritan woman came to the well. As the passage said, it was about noon when this woman came to the well to draw water. This is unusual because most women came in the cooler parts of the day to get the water, in either the morning or evening. It was a social time where the women would get together and chat, while getting the water for the day. This woman came at an inconvenient time of day when no one else was going to be at the well. It was almost like she was trying to avoid the other women. At any rate, this Samaritan woman is the reason why Jesus had to go through Samaria. Let’s take a look at this encounter, “When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, ‘Will you give me a drink?’ (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)” (7-8) When Jesus arrived at the well, all of his disciples left him there and went looking for food. That means that Jesus was all alone when the woman came to the well. When she came to the well, Jesus asked a simple question, “Will you give me a drink?” Jesus put himself at her mercy. She was the one in power, which is important.

The Samaritan woman was puzzled at Jesus’ question. “The Samaritan woman said to him, ‘You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?’ (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)” (9) You see, Jesus’ question violated a number of social and cultural norms. As I mentioned before, the Jews did not have the highest opinion of the Samaritans. They were below Gentiles but above pigs on the scale of cleanliness. Because of this, Jews and Samaritans did not talk to each other. On top of that, the Samaritan woman was a woman and Jesus was a man. Men did not talk to women unrelated to themselves. If they were not family, then they would never speak to each other. Even more so, Jesus was considered to be a rabbi or teacher. Now, rabbis never talked to women in public, not even to their own wives. So, here is this Jewish rabbi asking this Samaritan woman for a drink. It wasn’t just a conversation, it was a humble request, with Jesus asking for a favor. By catching the woman off guard allowed Jesus to reach the woman. If he followed the cultural norms, they never would have talked and a miracle would never had happened.

Now, Jesus used this opportunity to begin to teach. “Jesus answered her, ‘If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.’” (10) Jesus just asked this woman for a drink, but now he says that he would have given her living water. This seems odd since Jesus just asked her for a drink and it confuses the Samaritan woman, as well. But I have to tell you, one way to keep a conversation going in to confuse someone. They will wonder what you are talking about. “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?” (11-12) The woman stated the obvious; where was Jesus going to get the water. Was he going to use some sort of water-bending technique or magic to draw the water out. Jacob dug the well thousands of years prior, was Jesus someone greater than that? Well, we know Jesus and we know that the answer is, “Yes, Jesus is greater than Jacob.” Jesus is the Son of God, creator of the universe. Of course, Jesus is greater than Jacob, but the woman doesn’t know it yet, but Jesus doesn’t use a heavy hand on the subject. He lets her discover it for herself.

Jesus lets her discover who he is by going deeper into what this living water is. “Jesus answered, ‘Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (13-14) Jesus gives a pretty simple example. The water from the well will not fully satisfy someone. If you drink some water, you will have to drink more a little while later, but the water that Jesus offers is different. The living water that Jesus offered the woman is something that satisfies totally. Wouldn’t you love to go out in the heat of the day and never feel thirsty? That is what Jesus offered, but it is more than just satisfaction. The water that Jesus gives turns in to an overflowing spring. You who were once parched, and ever so thirsty, have a spring inside you that overflows to eternal life. This is an amazing thought. It is a dramatic change in a personal condition and it sounds so wonderful.

The woman thought it sounded wonderful, too. The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.” (15) The woman really didn’t want to come back every day to get more water. If you fill the jar, it gets emptied and you have to fill it again. So, she was interested in what Jesus had to offer. Unfortunately, the woman didn’t have a finger on what her real thirst was, but Jesus showed it to her. He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.” (16) In such a male dominated society, this seemed like a reasonable request, but there was a catch. “I have no husband,” she replied. (17) There was more to the story than that though as Jesus continued. “You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.” (17-18) Here, we can see the woman’s thirst. She had five husbands and was with a man that was not her husband. Now, I don’t know if she was divorced five times or they died, but that is a lot of marriages. Even now, if someone were to tell you that they were married five times, you would look at them a little strangely. Even in Hollywood that is unusual, but in that time, it was unheard of. The community would have hated her. She would have been the topic of all the rumors and gossip. People would have talked behind her back and pointed. Mothers would have kept their sons and husbands away from such a woman because she was probably cursed. Those are all within the realm of possibility, because the woman came to the well at noon. Gathering the water was a social time, but the woman avoided such socialization. She preferred to be alone. She was so thirsty for love that it cost her dearly. She was an outcast.

We all have thirsts too. Some of us have a strong desire for success. We want to succeed in life. We want money, a good job, the perfect husband or wife, a beautiful home, nice cars. We think that if we have these things, we will be happy. However, each of them are headaches on their own. The more money we have, the more we spend and the more we think we need. There are many actors that make tons of money but they are not happy. Some of them, despite making so much money, are even living in debt. The perfect husband or wife is still a person. They are a sinner because they are not Jesus, and you will get into arguments with them. They will not satisfy you. A beautiful home or a nice car require repairs and maintenance. They do not last. If we chase after them, we will always be thirsty. When I was younger, I chased after women. I wanted to be married and have kids. I chased after different women, but because I was very shy, I was met with frustration. I couldn’t get a girlfriend and even when I finally able to get a girlfriend, I wasn’t satisfied. She didn’t complete me. She didn’t give me endless happiness. A whole other set of problems came up. She had self-destructive tendencies and would cause herself harm. I wasn’t ready for that. Even after I started coming to Jesus, I still had this desire that was all my own, but marriage candidates didn’t work out. There were three rejections, even one rejection from my current wife. But God was telling me that these would not satisfy me. If I focused on this in my life, I would not be satisfied.

The woman must have felt a bit uncomfortable with Jesus pointing out her problems. She changed the subject to worship. “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.” (19-20) Now, we can see a little deeper into her problem. She wasn’t thirsty for the love of men; she was thirsty for the love of God. The Jews seemed restrictive in saying that worship was to only happen at the temple in Jerusalem. Her ancestors and her people were not allowed in the temple, so they worshipped on the mountain. However, Jesus answered simply that it is not where we worship but how we worship. “Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. 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. God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” (21-24) God cares about people who worship him in the Spirit and in truth. True worship comes from the heart. Going through the motions is not worship. My father’s side of the family is Catholic. One Christmas, I decided to go to Mass with my grandmother, so this was the first time I had seen a Catholic worship service. There were a number of areas where there were predetermined responses. The priest would say something and the congregation would respond, but the responses seemed so cold and sounded robotic. People were going through the motions, but their hearts weren’t in it. God cares mostly about the condition of our hearts.

Finally, the woman revealed the source of her thirst. “The woman said, ‘I know that Messiah’ (called Christ) ‘is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.’” (25) The woman was searching for the Messiah. She was longing for God’s anointed one and the way back to God. Like I said earlier, she was looking for God’s love. I don’t think that she really knew what she wanted, so she chased after men to satisfy her. It didn’t work because that is not what she needed. She needed Christ and the same thing holds for each and every one of us. There are many people out there who are in need of Jesus, but they don’t even know it. They think that they can fulfill their lives with various things, but they will only come to know that none of those things satisfy. Only Jesus can fulfill us. I chased after women, but I what I really needed was Jesus. It was only after I had begun to give my marriage to Jesus and turn my heart to him, that I was able to get married. He gave me the perfect wife, but I know that she will not satisfy me. She is a wonderful wife, but Jesus is the one who satisfies my soul.

Jesus revealed that he was the Messiah she was looking for and, instantly, she left her water jar and returned to the town. She went and told the people of the town about Jesus. She, who was once afraid to be around the people, went out into the town to tell people about Jesus. Her fear was gone and she was open. And they started to come out to meet him. It is a dramatic change from the person she was before talking with Jesus.

Now, the disciples returned to Jesus while he was still talking to the woman. They didn’t question him about what he was doing, but they were concerned for his health. They had gone into town to buy some food and they offered it to Jesus. But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.” (32) Jesus had satisfied his hunger, but the disciples were confused. Then his disciples said to each other, “Could someone have brought him food?” (33) The disciples were concerned with his physical needs but Jesus explained to them that there is more to life than that. “‘My food,’ said Jesus, ‘is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.’” (34) Jesus’ hunger was satisfied by doing God’s will and to finish his work. You can see here that satisfaction comes by knowing Jesus and it gets deeper by serving God. We can get the greatest satisfaction in life by knowing Jesus and taking what he teaches and put it in to practice. We can share the word of God with others. We can bring others to salvation, and it will be the most fulfilling thing that you have ever done. I started teaching the Bible in 2003 and it is so wonderful to see what God is doing in Malaysia. I only studied the Bible with Ison for a couple of years, but it gives me great joy to see the work that God is doing there. I don’t take credit for God working in Ison, it is all God’s working, but I do know that God blessed what little I was able to do and a harvest is forming in Malaysia. God is working tremendously bringing the people of Malaysia to him.

Jesus said, “I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest.” (35) I can picture him looking out and seeing the crowd of people from the town coming to him with the Samarian woman leading them. A harvest was coming and it was more abundant than any of them could believe. Many of them believed because of the woman’s story, so they invited Jesus to stay with them for two days. As the passage says, “And because of his words many more became believers.” (41) Right here, we can see that spring of living water overflowing from the woman. She was so thirsty for love that she kept going through men, but now she was so filled with love from Jesus that it caused so many people to believe. When we are satisfied in Jesus, it causes other people to desire the same satisfaction that we have. The woman went from being thirsty and fearful to having abundant life and joy. We are all a part of a long line of believers. I had a Bible teacher and he had one before him and it goes back and back. When I was in Malaysia, I met people that knew my former Bible teacher Sam when he was young. There are also those that I have studied with that are studying with others, going down the line. It is amazing to see this progression, but it is all for the glory of God.

In this passage, you can see a simple progression. The woman was thirsty and only had that thirst quenched in Jesus. She was thirsty for love, but Jesus is the only one who truly loves us. He laid down his life for us. Her life was filled with stress, but Jesus is the only one who can give us true peace. His sacrifice for us on the cross gives us forgiveness for our sins and peace with God. Her life was incomplete, but Jesus is the only one who can give us eternal life. Once she found Jesus, the woman was satisfied and overflowing with love. She was changed to the point where she could overcome her fear and share Jesus with the people of the town, and the town, too, came to believe. This is the reason Jesus had to go through Samaria. Jesus has to go through Malaysia. He has to go through the United States. He has to go through Illinois Tech. Jesus has to go through Korea and Mexico. Jesus has to go through you, and when he does so, you are more satisfied than you could ever be. Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” (Matthew 5:6) Satisfaction is only found in Jesus and it leads to such great abundance.

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