Week Two: John 4-6

Welcome to Week 2 of our Red Letter Summer!  This study is so unique because each week you’ll be hearing from one of our amazing pastors’ wives, giving us all a fresh perspective from these incredible women of God.  This week you will hear from the fabulous Erika Morris.  Hang on, she’s about to challenge you with a good dose of truth for your week…

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This Week’s Reading:  John, Chapters 4-6

As Julie wrote about during our Introduction Week, John is a unique book because it was written by one of Jesus’ best friends.  John walked, talked, ate with, and ministered alongside Jesus Himself!  His very purpose in writing this gospel (as stated in John 20:30-31) was to present the signs and wonders that Jesus performed so that those who read it will believe that He is “the Christ, the Son of God.”

What a treasure we have in this Gospel of John!  How amazing to read the words of one who reclined against the chest of Jesus at the Last Supper, to whom Jesus entrusted the care of His mother, the first disciple to believe Jesus rose from the dead, the first to recognize the risen Christ on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, and the one referred to as the disciple “whom Jesus loved.”

We get to know Jesus in a more intimate way when we read this Gospel.  Jesus makes many “I am…” statements throughout John.  In the weeks that follow, pay close attention to His claims.  Jesus says, “I am…

    • the light of the world,
    • the gate,
    • the good shepherd,
    • the resurrection and the life,
    • the way and the truth and the life,
    • and the true vine.” 

 This week we will examine two facets of Jesus’ character: 1) Jesus as the Living Water and 2) Jesus as the Bread of Life.

WHAT DID JESUS SAY?

1. When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?”  John 4:7

This simple sentence is rich with meaning.  Jesus’ first words to the Samaritan woman would have been astounding.  The fact that He was speaking to her, let alone asking to drink from her cup, was culturally unthinkable.  He was a Jew, Jews did not associate with Samaritans.  To drink from her cup would have made Him ceremonially unclean.  He was a man, she was a woman.  However, Jesus did not let any of those political, religious, cultural or societal barriers stop Him from reaching out to her.  She had come in the heat of the day to fetch water, hoping to avoid contact with those that would ridicule her, but God had a plan for her that day, and she encountered Jesus. 

 2.  “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.”  John 4:10

Jesus, knowing everything about her and loving her anyway, is telling her that this conversation is about more than water.  He is alluding to the eternal life that He offers.

Living water was a powerful metaphor in that region because of its arid environment.  Fresh, running water from springs was rare and sought after.  The Old Testament provides background for the term “living water”: 

  • In Jeremiah 2:13, God declares: “My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.”  The Israelites rejected the fresh, running supply of God’s faithfulness and instead chose the stagnant waters of the cracked cisterns they made with their own hands. 
  • The prophets Zechariah and Ezekiel looked forward to a time when “living water will flow out from Jerusalem” (Zc 14:8, Ezk. 47:9). 

The metaphor speaks specifically of God’s grace, life, the transforming power of the Holy Spirit, and cleansing by the blood of Jesus.  Jesus is telling the Samaritan woman that the water He offers is the satisfying eternal life that only He, the Savior of the World, can provide. 

 3. “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst.  Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”  John 4:13-14

Never thirst again.  Of course the thirst Jesus is referring to here is not for natural water, but a thirst for God.   And interestingly this need is not met by removing the desire, but by pouring out His Spirit – the “water welling up to eternal life” is a reference to the Holy Spirit who alone gives life (see John 6:63).  Several Old Testament promises are echoed by Jesus in this passage: 

  • In the day of God’s salvation, with joy God’s people “will draw water from the wells of salvation.” (Is. 12:3).
  • “They will neither hunger nor thirst.” (Is. 49:10).
  • The pouring out of God’s Spirit will be like pouring “water on the thirsty land and streams on the dry ground.” (Is. 44:3).
  • “Come, all who are thirsty, come to the waters…that your soul may live.” (Is 55:1-3). 

What is a beautiful fulfillment of God’s promises coming to fruition in the person of His Son, Jesus, the Living Water. 

4. “I am the bread of life.  He who comes to Me will never go hungry.”  John 6:35

In Chapter 6, Jesus’ followers are trying to make sense of all they have seen.  They asked Him, “What miraculous sign will you give that we may see it and believe You?”  They then recount the story of Moses and the manna that came down from heaven.   Jesus credits not Moses, but God with providing the bread from heaven.  They are spiritually hungry, so they ask Jesus for this bread.  He makes the startling and amazing claim that He IS the bread of life!  The Jews, knowing Jesus’ earthly family, had a hard time grasping how He “came down from heaven”.  But Jesus insists that He is indeed the bread of life, and that those who believe in Him and “eat of this bread” will never die. 

Soon His disciples would gather to break bread with Jesus at the Last Supper.  Maybe they would call this teaching to mind.  As Jesus gave them the bread He said, “This is my body given for you”, Luke 22:19.  Jesus, the Lamb of God, would take away the sins of the world through His sinless life and sacrificial death.  His body would be broken for us.  We remember this unbelievable sacrifice as we take communion – the breaking of bread. 

WHAT IS JESUS SAYING TO US?

1.  Engage with Him.  No matter our background, past sins, current failures, or general messiness of our lives, He invites us to sit down with Him and engage in conversation with Him – face to face.  He wants to share a cup with us.  The King of the Universe wants a personal relationship with us!  He meets us in our need – just as He did the Samaritan woman.  We only have to let down our guard, sit down, and listen.  We, like the Samaritan women, might feel we have traveled a lonely, dusty path in the midday sun, but we can sit down at the well, drink with Jesus and learn of the living water He offers.

2.  Are you thirsty?  Jesus offers us the only thing that will truly quench our thirst – a relationship with Him that leads to everlasting life – starting now.  Has life left you feeling parched in a dry and weary land?  Come to the waters of life and drink deeply.  Meditate on these beautiful words of David found in Psalm 63:

1 O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek You; 
my soul thirsts for You, my body longs for You,
in a dry and weary land where there is no water.

2 I have seen You in the sanctuary 
and beheld Your power and Your glory.

3 Because Your love is better than life, 
my lips will glorify You.

4 I will praise You as long as I live, 
and in Your name I will lift up my hands.

5 My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods; 
with singing lips my mouth will praise You.

6 On my bed I remember You; 
I think of You through the watches of the night.

7 Because You are my help, 
I sing in the shadow of Your wings.

8 My soul clings to You; 
Your right hand upholds me.

Jesus offers us living water, so why do we choose our own broken cisterns?  This week, ask yourself:  In what ways am I building my own cracked cisterns (performance, looks, exercise, intellectual prowess, boasting in my children, career success, gaining of worldly treasures, finding security in a relationship, addictive behaviors, media, etc)?  Am I trying to quench my thirst with stagnant waters?  Only Jesus can fill the void in your soul.  The Holy Spirit wants to fill you up to overflowing.  Will you invite Him to do so?  Will you surrender all your hopes and dreams, everything that you are for His purpose?  As the song says, “You won’t relent until You have it all – my heart is Yours.”  God wants all of us.  Let us turn to His streams of living water and leave our broken cisterns behind.

3.  Jesus offers all we need to sustain us.  His atoning death on the cross and resurrection provide us with forgiveness of sins, restoration to the Father, and eternal life.  Jesus is the true manna – the provision for all we need.  Even though his body, the bread of life, was broken once for all to remove our guilt and shame, we still need to come to him as our daily bread, our sustenance. 

The metaphors of hunger and thirst in Scripture as a whole, and in these chapters in particular, are powerful.  We have an aching need for God, as poignant as physical hunger and thirst.  Jesus is the answer to that need.  May we find our portion in Him alone.  May we turn to him daily, our Bread of Life – with every worry, every care and every need. 

THE CHALLENGE

This week be intentional about experiencing Jesus as your Living Water and Bread of Life.  Every time you wash your hands, drink water, do the dishes, turn on the sprinklers, go to the pool, get hungry, share a meal, envision Jesus as the provision for all of your needs.  Let your physical water and bread be a reminder of your Living Water and Bread of Life.  Lay aside your broken cisterns and the enticing, empty promises of this world and turn to the only One who can truly satisfy your needs.  Ask the Lord to give you a deep hunger and thirst for righteousness.  This week may you experience a new depth in your relationship with the Living Water and Bread of Life. 

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How have you experienced Jesus as your Living Water and Bread of Life?  Join the conversation.  We have women from all across the country, including Colorado, Washington, Ohio, & Alabama.  Your comments are an encouragement to us all!

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Written by Erika Morris, Foothills Community Church

“This summer Kyle and I celebrate our 7th anniversary, our 7th year in Colorado, and we just finished our 4th year of ministry at Foothills.  I love serving alongside my husband in high school ministry, discipling our senior girls and ministering to our leaders and students at Warehouse 180.  After teaching in an urban setting for eight years, we chose for my focus to be raising our children to follow the Lord after our first son was born.  Our boys are a continuing delight to us, and we are now expecting a baby girl!  In addition to spending time with my husband and children, I love traveling, reading, movies, game nights, the fine arts, enjoying the Colorado sunshine, and laughter with good friends.  We love the people of Foothills and are so grateful God has placed us here to do ministry. 

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4 Comments

  1. Melissa Swenson on June 18, 2012 at 1:59 pm

    For years, in the back of my Bible, I have been “collecting” all the different ways God reveals Himself when he refers to Himself as “I am.” Some of my favorites are:
    I am the Alpha the Omega, the beginning and the End. Rev. 21:6
    I am Jesus… Acts 9:5
    I am God’s Son John 10:36
    I am the bright Morning Star. Rev 22:16

    • Erika on July 24, 2012 at 4:26 pm

      Great idea! Those are beautiful revelations of Jesus. Thanks, Melissa!

  2. Brynn Wennen on June 25, 2012 at 9:05 pm

    Finally finished week 2! I love the OT picture manna gave us of the Savior that God had planned for us. I had never looked at manna as a picture of Jesus until reading vs. 6:49 and following today. God knew that we lived in a desolate place of sin where we could never gather up enough goodness to save our own lives. He knew he needed to send the “living bread,” broken for us to give life to the world (paraphrase of vs. 51).

    • Erika on July 24, 2012 at 4:26 pm

      Beautifully said, Brynn. Praise God for his provision for us!

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