Jesus and boundaries

Message Manuscript for “Well Included”     John 4:5-42
Delivered to Church for the Highlands        John Henson
Sunday, March 19, 2017
An audio version of this sermon is located here

CCE-launches-sports-cap-packaging-for-Glaceau-SmartwaterHave you noticed that everything is smart these days? There are smart phones, smart cars, smart watches, smart TV’s, smart homes, smart shoes, smart beds, and smart clothes. There’s even smart water! I get how a phone or a car can be smart, but water? What is it about water that needs to be smart? What is so smart about smart water? I learned that it has electrolytes, which are smart to have in your body when you are depleted or getting hydrated. Smart water is smart enough to save your life.

The water we’ve just heard about in our text this morning was smart as well. Jesus was a much better marketer than the smart water company. He labeled his water as Living Water. It’s what Jesus called it when talking to the woman at the well. As we hear what happened there, we learn what makes his water live up to its name.

First, the living water Jesus provides has no boundaries. Jesus demonstrates this as he crosses all kinds of boundaries. For one, he is in Samaria, a country on the No Travel List for all Jews. Samaria was regarded to be filled with untouchables and unclean. Just by being there, Jesus was breaking through barriers. He also did so by talking to a woman, especially a Samaritan woman. And yet Jesus crossed all of these boundaries. There was nothing that could keep back the flow of life God was sending into all the world. It is no accident, by the way, that John places this account right after the one about Nicodemus, right after Jesus says to him, “For God so loved the world . . .” Without boundaries.

the-samaritan-woman2The Living Water still flows without boundaries. As Lao Tzu stated about water, “Nothing is softer or more flexible than water, yet nothing can resist it.” Nothing can prevent it from getting where it intends to go. It’s a shame we still are talking about boundaries. It’s disappointing that some people don’t think we have enough of them and want to build more. What we are to hear though is that what God is doing in and for the world knows no boundaries. You can’t dam up God’s Living Water and keep it for yourself, for your people, your sexual orientation, your race, your size, political party, nation, or your religion. To restrict its flow is to take the life out of it; to turn a fresh stream teaming with life into a Dead Sea.

Second, Living Water satisfies. Jesus told the woman he met at the well that if she drank the water he had then she wouldn’t need to keep coming back to the well for water; that she wouldn’t be thirsty again. The rest of their conversation revolves around his statement and she soon understands that he is that water; that he is Messiah. The woman finds that Jesus is already satisfying what she needs and longs for the most in life.

I was with my dad as he was having tests and then surgery this week. The tests the doctors were doing on him required that he not eat or drink anything before or after them. Before the tests were done, all he could think about was water. After the tests were over, the only thing my dad wanted was water. His mouth was dry as a bone. His lips were beginning to crack. He was desperate for water.

Do you know that feeling of thirst? We all know what thirst is like. We are probably more like the woman at the well than we realize. As we sit and visit with Jesus, we find just how parched we are; how dry we have become without him. Our attempts to satisfy our deep thirst are identified by Jesus. As we list to what he is saying, we soon discover that his words are the refreshment we crave. As we drink from the Living Water, we find that we no longer need anything else. Nothing else will do. We have finally found what truly satisfies. The dry, parched areas of our interior lives become hydrated and healthy. We wonder how we ever made it without Living Water. I like what Michael Phelps says about water: “I feel most at home in the water. I disappear. That’s where I belong.” Isn’t that what we can say about Jesus, the Living Water?

A third characteristic of Living Water is that it is transportive. It moves people and things. It flows over boundaries to the woman at the well. It immerses her and then transports her back to her city. Once there, the woman shares the Living Water with other people. She says to her city, “Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done! He cannot be the Messiah, can he?” They left the city and were on their way to him.” They soon all get in the flow. She connected them to a renewable resource that would last them an eternity.

This same activity takes place when we encounter Jesus as Living Water. We find ourselves in the mighty flow of what God has sent into our lives through Jesus. We get so caught up in Jesus that we are led by him to our city, neighbors, and family. They will want what we’ve discovered. The nourishment this Living Water gives us becomes obvious to people around us to the point that they too want to come and see what it is all about. Jesus not only satisfies our every longing; he transports us with his water to refresh the thirsty people all around us.

The three ingredients I’ve just mentioned are what make Living Water smart. Smart to wash away the barriers we or others put up around us. Smart to slake our thirst. Smart to transport us with it to the thirsty people of our world. So, how about a drink?

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