Have you ever had that thirst that just wouldn't be quenched? Water wasn't working. Gatorade wouldn't do it. You just stayed thirsty? Maybe you have. Now... have you ever felt that spiritually - where you just felt incomplete, like something was missing and you couldn't quite put your finger on it? If you've ever thought about the meaning of life for very long, I'm sure you've felt that thirst. Augustine, a leader in the early church, once prayed, "Our hearts are restless, O Lord, until they find rest in you." Have you felt that? Good. At least now we're being honest - not trying to deceive ourselves that "I'm fine just like I am on my own."
Now, what to do about that thirst? Well, you need a drink. But not just anything will cut it. You need the right thirst quencher. And that's what Jesus gives in our text today. He found himself at a well with nothing to draw with and a woman everyone shunned. So he talked to her about thirst - and his power to quench it. It's interesting in this conversation that he quenches her thirst with something that we probably wouldn't have reached for on our own.
After starting out the conversation in the earthly, physical realm - the realm of water from a well to quench thirst, Jesus quickly turns to the spiritual and offers some amazing promises to the lady. Then, as soon as she's interested, he gets her even more thirsty - by confronting her sin - "You've had five husbands, and the man you have now isn't your husband." He doesn't excuse or look away from her sin. He shows her that that sin needs to be dealt with before any quenching can begin.
So she asks how it can be dealt with, "Are we supposed to worship here in Samaria or do we have to go to Jerusalem?" Isn't that a question all of humanity asks, "How do we quench that thirst? How do we find that divine?" People have tried to find it in money and fame, sex and parties, even charity work and family. But the thirst persists. So Jesus makes it clear - it is not about the outward action. You'll find God when you worship in Spirit (through the gift of faith the Holy Spirit brings) and in truth (never backing down from God's infallible word).
His answer holds true for us - whether we gather at a cathedral or in a day care, whether we have candles and incense or guitars and clapping - let's make sure that all we do at worship has a reason - led by the Spirit and truth, not by our own quest to be special and to feel good about ourselves. Then we find a drink that quenches.
You see, this truth quenches because it gives the ultimate answer. That woman wasn't going to have any resolution if Jesus were just a great teacher, just a prophet. She knew the discussion wasn't done. She knew that it would all come down to God keeping His promises of doing something about that sin. Even knowing the right way to worship left her short if she didn't know about the promises kept. So she says, "I know that Messiah (called Christ) is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us." There's still a little bit of thirst there, isn't there? So Jesus quenches it once and for all: Verse 26: " Then Jesus declared, "I who speak to you am he."
Every promise of a Savior from sin was realized in Jesus. Every promise of a quenching of our thirst was standing right there before her. The One to be pierced for our transgressions, the One to crush Satan's head, the One to reconcile us to God was right there. That is a drink that quenches. Let's gather next week to take another drink from this water of life.