Have you ever seen Let's Make a Deal? On the show, a contestant is called to the stage. Wayne Brady offers a nice and shiny package. He says, “It could be a nice new watch or some diamond jewelry. Pick this box. Trust me.”
But not so fast. The musical leader holds up a crisp, new envelope. He tells her, “It could hold a gift card, plane tickets, a check for a thousand dollars. Pick mine. Trust me.”
She turns them both down.
Because the voice over announcer has offered her what's behind curtain number three. He promised her that when she uses the prize she’ll have "a party on wheels." Could it be the new convertible? “Trust me.” The announcer says.
She does. The curtain opens and it’s…it’s…a donkey wearing a sombrero on roller skates.
Life is kind of like that isn’t it? We are constantly having to evaluate whom we should trust. It’s not an easy question. Banks send emails telling you to trust them with your mortgage. Diet plans advertise that you trust their plan to make your body slim. If you’ve dated lots, perhaps you’ve heard someone sell themselves. “I’m a really good person. I’m great fun. I’d be the perfect mate. Trust me.”
In John 4 Jesus met a woman with trust issues. Listen to how he helps her figure out where to put her trust. Then, consider how putting your trust in the same place is of great benefit!
I. The Problem with Trusting Worldly Things.
Jesus was on a long journey from Judea to Galilee. This is before cars so it’s fair to assume he and his disciples had walked quite a distance. Therefore, it’s no surprise that he got tired. Unfortunately, there weren't any Waffle Houses along the way for him to rest at. So he sat at the edge of a well while his disciples went into town for some food.
While he was a waiting, a woman approached the well. She began lowering her buckets to draw some water. As she working, Jesus asked her, 7 "Will you give me a drink?"
The woman herself was astonished, 9 "You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How is it that you ask me for a drink?" (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)
10 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.”
11 “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? 12 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?”
In other words, she was annoyed by what she perceivedw as an arrogant Jew! "You Israelites are so hoity toity. You always act like you are so much more religious than us. Now you are claiming to have a better grasp on water than us too? Do you have some kind of special filter? Did you give it some kind of ‘holy blessing?’ You do realize that the water you are badmouthing comes from one of your own -- the patriarch Jacob himself! Think twice before speaking again, sir.”
Jesus replied to the hostility with an explanation. 13 “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 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."
In doing so Jesus exposes the first problem with trusting earthly things. They don't satisfy the body!
Take the substance in question. Water. Science tells us that water quenches our thirst, but only for so long. Even if you buy the water for $10 at Whole Foods and the label claims to have bottled this water from the top of a hidden spring on Mt. Everest… you will be thirsty again.
It’s not just thirst. A delicious BBQ (Western or Eastern depending on your taste) satisfies hunger, until you’re hungry again. A Starbucks Blonde Roast makes you feel more awake, but eventually it’ll wear off and you’ll need it again. If you have a pain in your elbow, the Tylenol works until it’s effects wear off.
Earthly things only can be trusted as temporary, quick fixes to our bodily needs. They don’t last.
The woman at the well knew this. That's why she replied, almost sarcastically, "Sir, give me some of this water, so that I don't have to keep coming back to get water to drink."
But Jesus didn't keep this conversation at surface level. "Go and call you husband and come back." He told her.
You can almost see her begin to fidget. "I don't have a husband," she said.
Jesus replied, "You are right in saying that you don't have a husband. The fact is that you have had five husbands. What you have just said is quite true.”
Jesus isn’t saying this to make her feel bad. He simply wants her to realize that her trust was again in the wrong place. Because earthly things –and people-- don't satisfy the heart.
There's a longing in humans to be loved, treasured, and accepted. To be whole. Obviously this woman wanted that. Five times she thought she had it! Five times she trusted men to bring it to her. Five times – they didn’t give it. Whether it was unfaithfulness, physical abuse, verbal abuse, or just plain being too busy with work to be together…each time she trusted a man to love her and that trust was broken.
Now? Now she was with a man who hadn’t made any marriage promises of commitment and sticking through the tough times to her. Instead, he basically had given her the watered down promise of, “I like sleeping with you. I promise to stick around as long as that it entertaining. Trust me.”
The saddest part? She was so empty and broken that the reigned intimacy of uncommitted sex helped her forget about the void in her heart.
Are we so different? We desire to love and be loved by spouses, children, and friends. We trust people! We give our hearts to them. Then kids tell us that they hate us. Spouses shout at us to sleep on the couch. Friends betray us!
It’s why earthly things—even people—don’t really satisfy the heart!
Ashamed of the sudden change in the conversation, the woman changes the subject. “Our father's worshipped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that he place where we must worship is in Jerusalem."
Jesus kindly responds to her question. "A time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem…God is spirit and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth."
Jesus was pointing out that it didn’t matter where they worshipped. The earthly action wasn’t that important at all. What mattered was a true spiritual relationship with God.
And in bringing this up, Jesus exposes one last problem with trusting earthly things. They don't satisfy the soul.
Ever feel really Christianity? You go to the Christian book store. You buy a few nondescript Christian items: a cross necklace, a Jesus candle holder, a few devotionals with cool looking covers. You pay for them and walk out with your head held high! Your soul feels close to God as you rock out to Chris Tomlin on the drive home.
Then, you enter your house. The kids have left a mess. You lose it. And after letting out a few choice words, you’re back to feeling unsatisfied in your soul. Apart from God.
These failures in human things to satisfy and keep promises leave us with a dark void in our hearts. Then, just like the woman who kept trying man after man after man, we get caught in vicious cycles of trusting untrustworthy things to satisfy.
Perhaps you could list a few examples. Perhaps you are living a few examples:
*Beer after beer after beer till the stress is gone. But then it comes back. And this time with a headache. We drink another beer to cure it.
*Pornographic photo after pornographic photo. A high. Then this shameful feeling that can only be erased by another pornographic high!
*Money, money and more money. You finally get enough and buy a nice HD TV! You start watching shows about people’s relationships. It reminds you that your relationships are lacking. The problem? You probably just need more pixels. Better get more money.
*Success. You work hard for it. You crave recognition. You work all the time and have no time for God. No time for family. But an employee of the month pin! Until...People don’t appreciate me as much as they used to. I want that “appreciated feeling again.” Time to put in 90s hours this week again.
*Gossip and more gossip. It makes you feel better. Whenever you start to feel bad about something you have done, you go find your friends and repeat this process until you feel better again.
Here's the bottom line: Earthly things do not satisfy. There is not a single earthly thing worthy of garnering our complete trust to give us eternal, unending, complete, total and real satisfaction.
II. Jesus' alternative.
Ever been on a diet plan? Some diet plans you drink shakes. These are the healthy alternative to a normal unhealthy meal. Less calories all the vitamins. Unfortunately, none of them taste like Doritos, so…I haven’t tried them.
Jesus has an alternative that offers completely, total, eternal, unending, real satisfaction. He mentioned it throughout our lesson. Listen to what he said about it:
#1 -- It is eternal. Jesus said, "whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst." This means that Jesus' alternative doesn't run out when you get to the bottom of the can. There isn't a monthly fee to keep it going. It doesn't become diluted over time. It doesn’t lose its effectiveness.
#2 -- It is personal. Jesus said, "It will become in him a spring of eternal water." This isn't something that works for some people and not for others. It isn't some uncaring inanimate object that is only after your money. It isn't some uncaring animate person who is only after his own selfish desires. It is for you.
#3 -- It is truth. Jesus said, "true worshippers worship in spirit and truth." Jesus' alternative isn't some half-truth combined with a lie to make it sound more enticing. It isn't some phony idea concocted to play on your desire to be whole in order to make money. It isn't just true for some and not true for others.
#4 -- It is satisfying. It doesn’t do half the job. It doesn’t require you to finish the job. It satisfies. Completely. Always. Every time.
What is Jesus' alternative?
The woman had an idea. In verse 25 she told Jesus the truth that she did know, "The Messiah is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to me." Jesus didn't correct her. He just revealed something to her that he had kept hidden from many.
"I who am speaking to you am he."
This means that Jesus’ alternative was none other than himself! There is only one worthy of full, complete and real trust is Jesus! Because he is the only one who fully, completely and really satisfies all our needs!
Jesus is eternal. His love burns as strongly for you as when he died on the cross to take away all of your sins, will never fail. It will always be true no matter what time of day it is or how often you have turned to it. It is a bubbling spring...always overflowing for you.
Jesus is personal. He knows who you are. He cares specifically for you. He knows when you have been abused. He knows when you have struggles at work. He knows when you struggle with dark, dark thoughts. He knows you and still he promises to you that "Surely, I will be with you always to the very end of the age." (Mt. 28) "Whoever believes in me will have eternal life." (John 3:16) Even…”Your sins are forgiven." (Lk. 7)
Jesus is truth. Miracle after miracle after miracle. Seen by thousands of people. Proving his authority to make the claims that he did. He told the blind to see, they saw. He told the lame to walk, they did. He told the dead to rise, they did.
He said that he would die. That he would stay dead three days. That he would then rise from the dead, completely well, all on his own. He didn't lie then and he doesn't lie now.
Jesus satisfies. It doesn't matter what kind of emptiness you are feeling, Jesus’ love satisfies. If you struggle with finances, his heavenly riches fill your pocket. If you struggle with emptiness, his relentless pursuit of you fills you with love. If you have been hurt by a relationship, Jesus’ love reminds you that there is one who will never hurt you. In fact, who was hurt by you and for you! And you are satisfied.
Brothers and sisters, do you know what the woman did after Jesus talked with her? Scripture tells us that she left her bucket behind and ran to tell her friends!
That’s pretty neat. Suddenly, finding Jesus her Savior, her earthly needs were no longer important. All she needed was this love of Jesus. She ran to her friends to spread this message!
Do the same. This Easter – spread the message of Jesus. Tell your friends about the one who completely, fully, and absolutely fulfills all their needs. There’s no one better to place your trust!