Allen Jackson - Rivers of Living Water - Part 2
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You should know that the Jews and the Samaritans hated one another. Racial hatred is not new. We treat it as if it's a 21st century malady, that it's something unique to our nation, or us as a people. Folks, hatred amongst people is as old as people, since we fell. It's a reflection of a dark heart. It's not a reflection of the place we live. It's very important. John chapter 4, "There came a woman of Samaria to draw water there at a well. And Jesus said to her, 'Give me a drink.' His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food. The Samaritan woman said to him, 'How is it that you, being a Jew, ask me for a drink, since I'm a Samaritan woman?'"
And just in case you weren't aware of the... John puts in parentheses, this is John's parentheses, not Allen's. "(Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.)" That's the gospel polite way of saying they hated one another. "And Jesus answered and said to her, 'If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, 'Give Me a drink,' you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.' She said to Him, 'Sir, you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep: where then do you get that living water? You're not greater than our father Jacob, are you? He gave us the well, and drank of it himself and his sons and his cattle?' And Jesus answered and said to her, 'Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again: whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst. But the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.' And the woman said to him, 'Sir, give me this water, so I won't have to be thirsty or come all the way here to draw.' And He said to her, 'Go, call your husband and come here.' And the woman answered, 'I have no husband.' And Jesus said, 'You have correctly spoken, 'I have no husband,' for you've had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband.' The woman said, 'Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet.'"
Don't turn the page just yet. I want you to listen to the conversation in the context of the gospel of John. In chapter 3, John explains to us through the conversation with Nicodemus and Jesus the necessity of being born again. In John chapter 4, he picks the most unlikely person you could imagine to have Jesus explain this to them. It's somebody that all the Jews would hate. They wouldn't talk to her. They wouldn't accept a cup of water from her nor would they offer her one. That's what hate does. Then Jesus says to the woman, "I'd like a drink". And she looks at him, and he doesn't flinch. "Just exactly how is it you ask me for a drink? You hate me, and I hate you. We don't drink together". And Jesus said, "Well, actually, if you understood who'd asked you for a drink, you'd ask me for one". And now she thinks he really is nuts. She said, "Sir, this is a really deep well. It's been here a long time. Jacob dug it generations ago. We still use it, and you don't even have anything to draw with".
Now, at this point, the conversation is taking place on two different planes. She's talking about water from a well, and Jesus is talking about living water. This woman has little, if any, spiritual awareness. She enmeshed in the present world order. She has a daily assignment that requires her to draw water from the well for herself, for her family, more than likely for the livestock. The women worked desperately hard. And Jesus has entered into this conversation, because it was the one topic that she would understand and where they would have a little commonality. They both understand what it is to be thirsty in a desert country, but she doesn't understand his description of living water. He says to her, you know, "If you knew the water I had, you'd never be thirsty again". Now he's got her attention. "No more drawing from the well? You got a pump"?
You see, Jesus is inviting her into a spiritual awareness. And what finally gets her attention is that he knows something about her that she hasn't disclosed. Jesus said, "Go get your husband". "I don't have one". "Oh, you've told me the truth, but you've had five, and the one you're currently living with, you didn't even bother with the marriage". A prophet. Now he has her attention. You see, we don't often listen to the Lord until we're in desperate places. A part of these weeks with you is the hope in my heart that we will become better listeners, more receptive. We don't have to wait until we're desperate. We often do. But what if we began to say to the Lord, "I want everything you have for me. I want to cooperate with you. I want to grow. I want to learn. I'm not content. I'm not satisfied. I don't want to be as far in the world. I want to be more into your kingdom. I want to be more familiar with spiritual things than being imagined by my friends and peers to be a person of the world".
How did that become a compliment? A renaissance person, a multifaceted person, a person with great knowledge, and experience, and understanding of this present world order. When did that become something to celebrate? What if we were recognized as a person of holiness, of spiritual awareness, a person who championed righteousness and godliness? We don't aspire to that as much. I'm born again. I want to go to heaven. Why would I worry about the rest of that? It's no fun. Careful, you're leaking. Your attitudes are showing. We don't say it out loud because it's a little impolite. And if you said it to your Christian friends, it's just a little awkward that we've imagined God as an encumbrance, a limit, a burden, like he wants something from you. God doesn't need anything from us. Whatever we would offer to him, or share with him, or turn towards him, it's for our benefit more than his. God's kingdom would roll forward if I had never volunteered to participate, or you, but with God in our minds, the adversary has turned us to think that the real opportunities of our existence, so we want to use our strength. We encourage our children, "Go experience life".
Now, I'm not opposed to that, but what if we encouraged them to go experience the Lord, to open their hearts to him, if we laid our hands on them and said, "God, give them a revelation of yourself, more real than this world"? I believe if we would do that with more intentionality, and more determination, and more effectiveness, and more boldness, we wouldn't have these goofy clinics that want to mutilate them all over the nation. We're gonna have to change, church. John's talking to this woman, and they're talking past one another. She's struggling to understand the nature of Jesus's invitation. It's in verse 14, "The water that I give will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life".
Remember, John is telling the reader a story. Please remember that. He's leading us to a series of conclusions, and John has Jesus tell the Samaritan woman to be born again. It's a real world example of the discussion from chapter 3 with Nicodemus, but John's not done there. That's not the end of his invitations. John chapter 7, Jesus again, this time he's in Jerusalem. He's with his disciples. He said, "'I'm only with you for a short time, and then I go to the one who sent me. You'll look for me, but you won't find me; and where I am, you cannot come.' And the Jews said to one another, 'Where does this man intend to go, that we can't find him? Will he go where our people have lived scattered among the Greeks, and teach the Greeks"? What did he mean when he said, "You'll look for me, but you won't find me"? "Where I am, you can't come".
The religious leaders have very little spiritual awareness. What's he talking about? On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and in a loud voice, said, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink". Jerusalem is a city in the desert. It's in the mountains. To arrive at Jerusalem, you have to climb a mountain. If you come from the east, you have to climb the mountain. If you come from the west, you have to climb a mountain. If you come from the north or the south, you're gonna climb a mountain. There's a pattern emerging. If you climb mountains in the desert, you get thirsty. So, if you're going to gather a group of people in Jerusalem, and you want to get their attention, "If anybody is thirsty", so, Jesus has a captive audience, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. And whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him".
Now, John gives us an insertion. This is another set of parentheses. "By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in Jesus were later to receive. Up 'til that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified". Now, in John 3 and in John 4, he talked about a new birth. He talked about water welling up to eternal life. I would submit to you that in John 7, he's using a different image. He's talking about springs of water. Pretty casual to us. A well, a spring. We have ample rainfall. We have creeks and rivers. We have an abundance of water. In fact, much of the year, we have more than we need. In Israel, in the Middle East, that's not true. It's the most precious natural resource there, more precious than petroleum.
And so it's not a subtle thing that Jesus is doing. I believe he's inviting us to yet another way of knowing him. I believe it's another invitation. I believe Spirit baptism is as much as a part of the invitations that God puts before us as the new birth is. Not essential for salvation, but an important part of the toolkit that's given to us to complete the assignments to which we have been called. After John 7, Jesus encounters in John 9 a man born blind, and the whole city is stirred by that interaction. He puts a little mud on his eyes. You know the story. And the man comes home seeing from the pool of Siloam. There've been some announcements about excavations around the pool of Siloam lately. It will become a tourist site before long. It was lost for hundreds, and hundreds, and hundreds of years. It was at the bottom of the city of Jerusalem.
Jesus sent the man on a walk through town, having smeared mud on his face. The casual observer was thinking he was making fun of him. If you watch with a little more clarity, you realize Jesus sent him on a journey. That means he's gonna have to walk back through the whole city, saying, "I can see". And the whole city is stirred. That's John 9. In John 11, Lazarus is raised from the dead. That'll get your name in the paper. "Well, he's been dead so long, he stinks". "Yeah, I know, open the tomb". "No, Lord, really". "Open the tomb. Father, I thank you that you hear me. I didn't say that for my benefit. I said that for the benefit of these. Lazarus"! Can you see that crowd? What's the expression on their faces? "Oh, Jesus". Until they hear a noise. See, I believe that John is inviting us, as disciples, because he's desperately trying to make faithful disciples out of his readers.
Look in John 16. "And Jesus", again, "I'm gong to him who sent me, yet none of you asks me, 'Where are you going?' Because I said these things, you are filled with grief". This is a theme in John. Jesus is going somewhere where we can't go. This dichotomy between the material world, the world of matter, and the spiritual world, they both exist. It's not either, or. One is temporary and one is permanent. That should help you make a decision about where you want to invest. "But I tell you the truth, it's for your good that I'm going away. Unless I go, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I'll send him to you. I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth".
John, again, he's teaching us. He wrote this gospel after the fact. Jesus has long ascended to heaven. They don't want the narrative to be lost. They recognize there's generations of disciples coming behind them, and those that had personal firsthand experience write down the narrative. So, John is trying to help you and me. We didn't walk the hills of Galilee with Jesus. So, he takes us behind the curtain to hear what Jesus told them, to help them prepare to flourish as disciples. John even records Jesus's high priestly prayer in John 17, where Jesus prays a unique blessing upon those of us who will believe in him, but haven't seen him, yet.
So, John is very much trying to help you and me with these words of Jesus that he shares with us. When the Spirit of Truth comes, he will guide you into all truth. Have we ignored that? We thought going to another class would do it. We thought the latest small group curriculum from our favorite small group creator would do it. We thought we got to choose the book we wanted to study. How often do we say to the Lord, "Lord, I want to learn more about you"? Holy Spirit, you help me. How often have we raised our hands when the Spirit of God has said, "Whatever steps you've got, whatever invitations, however I could follow you", we've arrived at a point in our culture where the truth is so absent, it is so denigrated, so disrespected, so overlooked. We had someone run for Congress on a fabricated resume. And when they were exposed, they said, "No big deal. I'm still gonna do a good job".
I don't think it's their fault. I think it's the absence of truth in the hearts of God's people, because we've had so little interest in the Spirit of Truth. John 20. It's Resurrection Day. In the evening in that first day of the week, the disciples were together with the doors locked. They're afraid of the Jews. I guess so, if they killed Jesus, you'd feel a little vulnerable. You think? If they tortured Jesus to death in public, and his enemies stood at the foot of the cross and mocked him, and the Roman soldiers gambled for his clothes. You might be a little intimidated. I would be intimidated. But the door's locked. Jesus came and stood among them. And he said, "Peace be with you". They had anything but peace. They had fear, and disappointment, and discouragement, and brokenness, and despair. And Jesus rolls in and says, "Peace". And after he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. No ghost. "And the disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord".
I bet they were out of their minds, beside themselves, ecstatic, speechless, not flippant, in complete awe. Now, we saw Lazarus, but this is different. He still has nail prints. We saw him 72 hours ago. I hardly recognized him. "And Jesus said, 'Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.'" Ever think they might've been open to an invitation at that point in time? "And with that he breathed on them and said, 'Receive the Holy Spirit.'" Now, I would submit to you at that point, they meet all of the biblical criteria for the new birth that John told us about in John 3. They've had a personal experience, encounter with the resurrected Christ, and he's breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit". They're good to go.
Remember, John's telling us a story. He's trying to encourage the reader to become a believer in Jesus as the Messiah, and then to become a disciple of Jesus, a world-changing disciple. John concludes his gospel with an intriguing little passage. He says, "Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written". "I haven't told you the whole story," he said. "I've told you what you need. I've given you the essential components. But if I tried to tell you the whole story, you wouldn't, it's just too much. You wouldn't read it".
So, John gives us permission to understand. He hasn't explained the whole narrative. He's helped us become believers. He's pointed us down the path. I don't think it's coincidental that the book of Acts follows the gospel of John. I know Acts has a different author, Luke. The position, the Gentile of the New Testament authors wrote the gospel that bears his name in the book of Acts. We're told by Luke that Jesus spent 40 days after the resurrection with the disciples, talking about the kingdom of God. And in Acts 1 and verse 4, it says, "On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them a command: 'Don't leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you've heard me speak about. John baptized with water, but in a few days you'll be baptized with the Holy Spirit.'"
Again, I think it's an invitation he puts before his disciples. Resurrection Day, they received the Holy Spirit. If you prayed that prayer with us a few moments ago and accepted Jesus as Lord of your life, the Spirit of God lives within you, not in a building built with human hands, the New Testament says. We have become the temple of the living God, but John said to those same disciples, "Forget your three years of training. Forget your water walking, Peter. Forget your Mount of Transfiguration stories. Don't get hung up on your specialness, don't even begin your ministries, don't even begin to tell the story until you're baptized in the Holy Spirit".
Now, if Peter, and James, and John needed that, just maybe, I'm thinking on an outside chance, it could be of benefit to you and me. I brought you a prayer. It's a prayer of invitation to the Holy Spirit. You invite Jesus into your life. I believe if the Holy Spirit is to have a more prominent role in your life, we'll have to purposely cooperate with him. Well, may I make one suggestion? My time is up. Don't imagine that yielding to God makes you weird. If you're weird when you yield to God, you were weird before that. Before that, you blame your family or circumstances, or... I'm not impressed by weird when people put God language to it. God's not weird. You know, impromptu is not more spiritual than planned. If it were, we wouldn't have prophets in the Bible.
God had a plan. He told us back in Genesis what he was going to do in Revelation. He still has a plan. I'm not opposed to impromptu, but don't imagine that just because you didn't have a plan, you're more spiritual. I grew up in that world. I wrote one sermon, but as I was walking up the steps to speak to you, the Lord spoke to me. And when I hear that, what I think, I wonder why you didn't listen sooner. And sometimes the Lord changes my stuff. Like, I put it on paper, and I get up here, and he takes me down some, or I end up on some rabbit trail. Maybe I shouldn't blame him. But don't step away from the Spirit of God because you saw somebody who was weird and blamed God. You with me? I brought you up here. Why don't you stand with me? We can read it together. Have you found it? Let's read together:
Holy Spirit, you are welcome in my life, without reservation, without qualification, and without hesitation, I yield to Your authority and presence. I repent of any involvement with the occult and renounce any influence which those experiences may have initiated. Jesus is Lord of my life, the Spirit of the living God dwells within me and I ask to be filled to overflowing with His presence, in Jesus's name, amen.