Aug 2, 2015

“A Spring of Water, Gushing up to Eternal Life” 8-2-15

John 4:7-14, Isaiah 12
August 2, 2015

I must have been about 14 before I had any serious thoughts about water.  I was born in Baltimore, a city built at the water’s edge.  Then we moved to Ohio, where our town had a creek that flowed along the edge of our town.  My friends and I used to swim in it in the summer, although wading and standing would be a better description.  In fact, I really did not learn to swim until I was at a summer church camp located on the Severn River in Maryland. 
Through all of this, I pretty much took the presence of water for granted.  Then when I was 14, and living in Maryland, our town beach was closed because of pollution.  Actually, the beach was not closed, you could sit on it, but going into the water was forbidden.
I suppose those first 13 or 14 years of my life demonstrate how privileged I was.  For many in this world, water, and its purity and presence is a major concern.  The reason is simple: water is necessary to support life, including and especially human life.  Three summers ago, we suffered from a bit of a drought here in Tippecanoe County.  This summer we have had a little too much rain, and some of the farmers are reminding us that, yes, one can have too much of a good thing.
As you know Diane and I have a son who lives in California, when we talk to him we sometimes ask how the water shortage there and its related restrictions are affecting his life.
Water is important, and in the location and time of Isaiah it was very important.  Isaiah lived in the vicinity of Jerusalem during the reign of several kings.  In the ancient world, the location of a city or town depended on two most important considerations, defensibility, and water supply.  Jerusalem had been built on the location of an older Jubusite city by King David.  It was on the top of a mountain, so it was easily defendable, and it had a good supply of water through a spring on the edge of the settlement.  But there was a problem.  The spring was too close to a cliff to include it within the fortified walls of the city.
This became a problem as one of the primary methods of attacking a city became the siege.  In a siege, an enemy force surrounded a city, sometimes with earthworks or walls, but always by troops, and waited until the food supplies in the city ran out and the people had to surrender.  In Isaiah’s time, particularly during the reign of King Hezekiah, having the water supply outside the city wall became a problem because of threats from other kings.
So, Hezekiah had a tunnel built under the city wall and dug a pool in the city called the pool of Siloam.  So the city had a water supply accessible by steps.
In the midst of all this concern about a water supply, Isaiah could make his message resonate by speaking of wells of salvation.  God would deliver them from spiritual oppression by giving them something that would quench their spiritual thirst, and bringing that spiritual water inside the very gates of Jerusalem.
Jesus later used this same imagery and even strengthened it when he spoke to a Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well.  He said that He, Himself was a source of living water, a water that would become in people a spring of water that would gush up to eternal life. 
When we come to this table, we proclaim that by his death and resurrection symbolized by this bread and wine, Jesus has become a source of living or spiritual water that has welled up in those who believe in Him to give them eternal life.
As our physical thirsts have been quenched by that earthly substance with the formula H2O, so our spiritual thirsts have been quenched and satisfied by Jesus, the Son of God.
But this meal is to be about more than just remembering Jesus and being grateful.  By our presence and eating and drinking here, we are to be obedient to the last 3 verses of Isaiah 12.  He said that those who would draw from the wells of salvation would direct each other to Give thanks to the Lord, Call on His name, make known his deeds among the nations, proclaim that his name is exalted, and sing praises to the Lord,  because the holy one of Israel would be great in their midst.

The Holy one of Israel is with us.  He is symbolized in this meal, and he is among us and within us by His Holy Spirit.  So before and after this meal we will sing a song of praise to God, Before this meal we will give thanks to God in our prayers of Thanksgiving.  And after this meal, we are to tell others in this world what Christ has done for us, in giving us what we need for eternal life.  May we remember to and be excited about it.


Pastor David L. Horner
Faith Presbyterian Church
West Lafayette, IN 47906