Fourth Sunday After Trinity June 22, 1997
9, 347, 381, 376
Hymns from The Lutheran Hymnal (1941) unless otherwise noted
In that day you will say: “I will praise you, O Lord. Although you were angry with me, your anger has turned away and you have comforted me. Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The Lord, the Lord, is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.” With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. In that day you will say: “Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done, and proclaim that his name is exalted. Sing to the Lord, for he has done glorious things; let this be known to all the world. Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion, for great is the Holy One of Israel among you.” Here ends our text.
In the Name of Jesus Christ, Dear Fellow Redeemed,
Water is an essential part of our everyday life. Everybody knows that—it almost goes without saying. For most of us Americans in 1990’s, however, our source of water is as close as the nearest tap, so we hardly ever give it a thought. In Bible times it was much different. In the ancient near east, wells were few and far between. Every day, people would have to haul water to their homes by hand, often from quite a distance. In that arid environment, having a reliable source of water could well mean the difference between life and death. Certainly, nobody in those days took water for granted!
That’s why, when a Samaritan woman learned of a new source of water that was more reliable and convenient than her old village well, she was extremely interested. She heard about it from a man she’d met while drawing water—a man whose name was Jesus. “Jesus answered and said to her, ‘Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.’ The woman said to Him, ‘Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw.’” John 4:13-15.
What she didn’t understand, of course, was that Jesus was talking about a different and much more important kind of water: the water of salvation. That’s why our passage from Isaiah is so exciting—it invites all of us to take from that water and drink. If your life has been rather ho-hum lately…if your walk with God has been lackluster and uninspiring…if you’ve felt parched with a thirst to be really right with your God…then accept the invitation! Our theme today is:
Isaiah was a prophet of the Lord who lived in the eighth century BC. As a prophet, it was his job to tell God’s people what was going to happen in the future. Sometimes prophets predicted two future events at the same time—something that was going to happen soon, and something similar that was going to happen in the distant future. For instance, in Matthew chapter 24, Jesus makes a prophesy about destruction: both the destruction of Jerusalem, which took place in 70 AD., and the destruction of the world, which will happen on Judgment Day. At any rate, that’s the kind of prophesy our text is. It refers to two different events—one near and one far away: how the captive people of Israel would be delivered from the Babylonian exile, and also how the people of the world would be delivered from sin by Jesus Christ. Both of these, Isaiah says, will be overwhelmingly joyful events. It will be like a man dying of thirst in the desert who suddenly stumbles across a well containing cool, refreshing water! “With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation!”
Can you think back and remember the thirstiest you’ve ever been? It’s easy for me. I was bow hunting in a remote area of Wisconsin with some friends, and I forgot to bring water. It was a hot autumn day, and by evening I was so thirsty I couldn’t think of anything else. And you know what the worst part was? -It was my own fault; I had no one to blame but myself!
Likewise, the wicked people of Jerusalem had no one to blame but themselves when the Lord, angered at their rebelliousness, allowed them to be taken into captivity in Babylonia. Through His prophets, the Lord had repeatedly warned them to turn from their sins and repent. But the people Judah ignored God, and His Word, and His prophets. And finally the Lord had had enough. He delivered them into exile in a foreign land, and there they languished. Well might they then have said, with the Psalmist, “O God, You are my God; Early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You In a dry and thirsty land where there is no water.” — Psa 63:1.
Have you known that kind of thirst? Where you feel God’s anger over your sins, and thirst desperately for His forgiveness? If you haven’t, maybe you’d better take a closer look at your life. How many of you Christian husbands can say you’ve shown the thoughtful, self-sacrificing love that the Bible says you owe to your wife? Wives, have you really submitted yourself to your husband and obeyed him as the Church obeys Christ? That’s what God’s Law requires! Young people, have been loving and obedient to your parents…or have you talked back to them, disobeyed them and shown disrespect? People of Ascension Lutheran Church: what would the ratio be if you compared the time you spend watching TV with the time you spend reading God’s Word? If you compared the money you spend on pleasure and entertainment with the money you give to the Lord?
Now, I’ve just touched on three commandments. There are ten of them, as you know! And you don’t have to dwell on them too long before your life starts looking like a wasteland, parched and void of righteousness. You feel that first twinge of thirst—thirst for the cool waters of forgiveness! You know you can’t supply it for yourself. No one can earn God’s forgiveness; He has to give it to you. But don’t worry—that’s exactly what He has promised to do! “The poor and needy seek water, but there is none, Their tongues fail for thirst. I, the LORD, will hear them; I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them. I will open rivers in desolate heights, And fountains in the midst of the valleys; I will make the wilderness a pool of water, And the dry land springs of water.” — Isa 41:17-18.
Come! Isaiah says. Come, DRAW WATER FROM THE WELLS OF SALVATION! “For although you were angry with me, your anger has turned away and you have comforted me.” God was justly angered over your sin, but His anger turned away from you. The Lord’s wrath over sin was like a powerful laser beam. Only, in His mercy, God shifted that deadly beam away from you…and pointed it directly at His Son Jesus instead. When Jesus was mocked and tortured and spit upon at the hands of the Romans, He was bearing the punishment you deserved. When the nails were driven through His hands, your sins were being atoned for with each ringing blow of the hammer. When, in His death agony, He cried out upon the cross, “It is finished!” your account before God was being paid in full. How ironic that one of Jesus’ seven words from the cross was “I thirst!”—our Lord was suffering so that your thirst for the water of life might forever be quenched!
That’s what Jesus meant when he told that Samaritan woman, “Whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst.” Come and draw water from the wells of salvation. Drink of it yourself! Bring your sins, in repentance, to the cross of your Savior. When evening arrives, kneel down by your bedside and confess them! Be rid of them! -And drink in the cool, comforting forgiveness that Jesus offers. “He who comes to Me,” Jesus said, “I will in no wise cast out!”
So COME, DRAW WATER FROM THE WELLS OF SALVATION! Drink of it yourself! In that day you will say: “Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid.“
I will trust and not be afraid. The Hebrew word for “afraid” in that verse literally means to tremble. Your sins might well have made you tremble before…but not now. Why not? Because “The Lord, the Lord, is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.” You see, when you’ve drunk from the wells of salvation, when you’ve received that free gift of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ, then you can live a life of trust. “I don’t know how we’re going to pay our bills this month, but I’ll trust the Lord.” “I don’t know how I’m ever going to cope with this devastating illness, but I’ll trust the Lord.” “I don’t know how I could possibly be forgiven all the awful sins I’ve committed, but I’ll trust the Lord.” Because of Christ, the prophet says, you can live a life of joy, a life without fear. Who’s going to overpower you when the Lord is your strength?! Who’s going to say you’re not going to heaven when the Lord is your salvation?! Everything necessary for you to go to heaven…has already been done by Jesus Christ.
What a great feeling—to drink of that precious water of life. It just makes you want to draw out more and more, doesn’t it? You can, and you should. Every Sunday morning you can take a long draught of that water of life as you listen to God’s Word being preached here in His house. So be faithful in your church attendance! Each time you read and study that Word in your home, you’ll be able to quench your thirst for forgiveness, and refresh yourself on your long homeward journey toward heaven. The Psalmist said, “How sweet are Your words to my taste, Sweeter than honey to my mouth!” — Psa 119:103. You need that refreshment. So take advantage of every opportunity to read and study the Word.
Also, there’s one thing you should never do with the water of life, and that is keep it to yourself. You should draw deeply and regularly from the wells of salvation, not only so you can drink the water of life yourself…but also so you can pour it out for others. Isaiah says in our text, “Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done, and proclaim that his name is exalted.”
One thing that immediately struck me when we moved to this area was how involved people are in sports around here. Just a short time ago, e.g., our Seattle Supersonics were in the hunt for a national title. Have you ever gone to a Sonics game at Key Arena? You could go deaf in that place! And it seems like, during the playoffs, basketball is the one subject that everybody is eager to talk about. Well…what would you think if you went to a Sonics game and, instead of cheering, everyone was whispering? What if, when you wanted to strike up a conversation about basketball, the people you were talking to got all embarrassed and suddenly wanted to change the subject? The very thought is ridiculous, of course! But isn’t that exactly what so many of us do when it comes to our Christian faith? Instead of shouting God’s name, we whisper it! Instead of taking advantage of opportunities to witness our faith, we uncomfortably look for a chance to change the subject. GET OVER IT, Isaiah says! You’ve got something great to give people—the very water of eternal life! “Sing to the Lord, for he has done glorious things; let this be known to all the world. Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion, for great is the Holy One of Israel among you.”
God forgives sins freely for Jesus’ sake… let this be known to all the world. Now, that doesn’t mean you have to give up your job and become a missionary to Africa. But you are a missionary. You’re a missionary to your family members and relatives who don’t yet know Christ, or who have drifted away from Christ. You’re a missionary to your fellow-employees at the place where you work. You’re a missionary to your neighbor, as you talk to him over your backyard fence. You’ve got the water of life, and God wants you to pour it out for others! In fact, Jesus said, “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” — John 7:38.
And you don’t have to be some kind of Doctor of Theology to witness Christ to others. You don’t have to discuss complicated theories or philosophies. Our text just says, “Make known His DEEDS.” That’s easy: just talk about what Jesus has DONE for you. You can start with what He did for you on the cross. But you won’t want to leave out how He’s cared for you and provided for you in your life. Talk about how He’s comforted you, helped you through the hard times, and made so many of your dreams come true. Talk about God’s love and His grace toward you and all sinners in Jesus Christ. In short, pour out the water of life for others! Imagine the thrill: you may one day meet someone in heaven who says to you, “Thank you! Thank you for sharing the water of life with me!”
In the year 1513, the Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon landed on the coast of Florida. He ventured quite a ways inland, supposedly in a search of the legendary “fountain of youth.” Needless to say, he never found it. My fellow Christians…you and I have found it. Not a fountain that restores our physical youth and allows us to live forever on this earth—I’m not sure many of us would want that even if it was available. No, the Lord has opened our eyes to discover the fountain that leads to eternal life. That fountain is God’s Word, and the Gospel of Jesus Christ that it contains. So let’s answer His call and accept His invitation: Come, draw water from the wells of salvation! AMEN.
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All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.