What Does Jesus Want?

I was recently reminded why it is so important to pray to the Holy Spirit before reading God’s Word. I recently read that a divine book needs a Divine Teacher. If we approach the Word without the Holy Spirit guiding us, it’s just another book. With the Spirit guiding us, familiar passages often will strike us in a new way. That happened to me with the story of Jesus and the woman at the well in John 4:

When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.) John 4:7 (NIV)

The Holy Spirit, with an assist from one of my favorite authors, Oswald Chambers, made this verse jump off the page at me. This moment in Jesus’ life is seen as the template for evangelism. He plans the meeting with the woman who is shunned by her community, having been married five times and is now living with a man who is not her husband. I have taught and preached this story many times as a teaching tool for evangelism. Jesus creates an opportunity for a conversation, doesn’t judge, and shows how much he cares for the woman, all things we should follow when sharing the Gospel. But I missed something enormous in verse seven, and I bet you did too. Jesus asked for a drink of water! Can you believe it! Okay, the stunning thing isn’t that Jesus asked for a drink of water. The stunning thing is that Jesus asked anyone for anything!

It likely stunned his 12 apostles that He asked someone for something. Jesus made it very clear that He came to serve and not be served. Virtually every miracle he performed was in the service of someone else. Now, you could argue that the fully God and fully human Jesus needed a drink. Or, perhaps Jesus was simply using the request as a conversation starter. I believe something much bigger was going on.  Chambers, in a daily devotional, pointed out that we often ask Jesus for what we want, without ever asking what He wants. All of this led me to the conclusion that Jesus still wants a drink of water: us.

Consider this exchange between Jesus and the woman:

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.” “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? 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?” Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 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.” John 4:10-14 (NIV)

The woman asks a reasonable question: why is Jesus asking for a drink when He appears to have access to what seems to her to be magic water? Jesus later tells the woman, “God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.” For that to happen, we need to surrender our spiritual lives to Christ as “a poured-out drink offering,” as the Apostle Paul described his impending physical death to his protégé Timothy. But the metaphor works perfectly here too.

Jesus still wants that drink. He wants us to pour our whole spiritual selves out to Him as a drink offering. In return we get the living water, the river with no beginning and no end running through us. Jesus wants us to understand that the second we say yes to Him, eternity begins. For those who have accepted Christ, this life isn’t an 85- or 90-year period in a waiting room until we meet Jesus after our death. Eternity is right now and Jesus wants us to understand that by surrendering our whole selves to Him now we will receive the living water He spoke of at the well.

And when we do receive, we too will act like the woman at the well: we can’t wait to go tell everybody! If you haven’t already, I invite you to give Jesus a drink today: give your entire life to Him as your Lord and Savior. What you receive in return is nothing words can describe. But I pray you experience it for yourself soon!

— Pastor Jerry Bader

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