To the Thirsty
5th Sunday of Easter – C LSB #’s 540 v.1-3, 540 v.4-6
Text – Revelation 21:6
And He said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha & the Omega, the beginning & the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment.”
TO THE THIRSTY
Flint, MI. It wasn’t exactly a picture of heaven to begin with. Throw into the mix the whole contaminated drinking water crisis & it gets even uglier. Now it’s coming out that states across our nation have cities with high levels of lead in their drinking water. Clean water is a big deal, but we haven’t worried about it much here in the Great Lakes state. Water is plentiful.
For people living in the southwest portion of our country drought has been a constant presence throughout our nation’s history. Clean water is not rocket science, but due to inept people, across the entire spectrum of our government, it’ll be something we cannot take for granted even while we are surrounded by Lake Michigan, Huron & Superior.
It’s no longer just the thirsty who are concerned about something to drink. Pollution of the world’s water has been a problem for centuries. Now, incompetent people, working for incompetent government, are not doing their job & are putting the lives of many people at risk. You don’t even have to be thirsty anymore to be angry & concerned.
Expanding upon the common understanding of being thirsty, Jesus also relates that sensation to the idea of righteousness. The Son of God says, in Matthew 5:6, “Blessed are those who hunger & thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” That thirst for righteousness makes itself obvious in one of the most mundane activities of life.
Have any of you ever made an excuse for a perceived failure or shortcoming on your part? Have you been caught red handed & tried to explain things away? No one enjoys hearing excuses, so haven’t you wondered why that’s such a knee jerk reaction for human beings? Haven’t you marveled at how those words come out of your mouth with so little effort? Excuses are simply a form of trying to justify ourselves, because innately we thirst for righteousness. Because sin has confused us, we long to be right, rather than being forgiven. So let the excuses fly! In response, Yahweh Himself tells us in Revelation 21:6,
“It is done! I am the Alpha & the Omega, the beginning & the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment.” In other words, our Creator gives everyone righteousness for free – no strings attached, it is done! Just believe it! That’s the whole point of John 3:16. Yet, we are oh so good at making excuses.
You & I thirst for righteousness yet, of our own, we are totally unable to satisfy that thirst. But, we still try, & our striving to do so takes other forms besides making excuses. We disengage from the world around us, reasoning that in such a way we’re accountable to no one. We take on a self-righteous air & deny all wrongs thus eliminating any need for excuses.
We complain & criticize others so we don’t feel bad about who we are. We work obsessively at perfection & deceive ourselves into thinking we reach it. We associate ourselves with those who appear successful & hope to just ride along on their coattails. Yet every one of those strategies is still driven by the same thirst, & of our own accord we are never satisfied.
Jesus is aware of that thirst: “So He came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the field that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there; so Jesus, wearied as He was from His journey, was sitting beside the well. It was about the 6th hour. A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, ‘Give me a drink.’
The Samaritan woman said to Him, ‘How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?’ (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, ‘If you knew the gift of God, & who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, & He would have given you living water.’ The woman said to Him, ‘Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, & the well is deep. Where do you get that living water?’
Jesus said to her, ‘Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.’ The woman said to Him, ‘Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.’”
Jesus can see very clearly that she is thirsting for righteousness, but He also knows this woman is confusing that with thirsting for water. So now, He turns the conversation to the topic of her sin, the root cause of her thirst for righteousness. Jesus said to her:
“Go, call your husband, & come here.” The woman answered Him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, & the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.”
This woman knew her sin & with Jesus’ counsel she’s led to confess it. She sees in Jesus the hope of forgiveness, the satisfying of her thirst to be righteous, because Jesus cleared the confusion from her mind. You, & I, & all the world around us, also constantly need Jesus to clear the confusion from our minds. St. John wrote of that event in his Gospel.
Now, we turn back to his writings from today’s reading in the 21st chapter of Revelation: “Then I saw a new heaven & a new earth…” (Revelation 21:1 ESV) Chapter 20 just concluded with the final defeat of Satan & Judgment Day. At this final judgment, John says that “earth & heaven fled” from God’s presence on the great white throne.
Chapter 21 opens with a new heaven & a new earth being seen. In this new creation the former things, like the thirst for righteousness, will no longer be remembered. Life in this age is marked by confusion, chaos, uncertainty, conflict & death. You & I could probably add a few things to that list, because in this age, God often seems distant or unconcerned, especially when evil is evident & pervasive, but Yahweh is drawing this age to a close. There is a beautiful connection between the 1st book of the Bible & the last. Holy Scripture resembles a flower. We find the seed in Genesis, the growing plant in the books which follow, the fully developed & beautiful flower in Revelation.
Genesis tells us that God created heaven & earth. Revelation describes the new heaven & earth. In Genesis the luminaries are called into being – sun, moon & stars. In Revelation we read: “And the city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, & its lamp is the Lamb.”
Genesis describes a Paradise which was lost. Revelation pictures a paradise restored. Genesis describes the cunning & power of the devil. The Apocalypse tells us that Lucifer was bound & hurled into the lake of fire & brimstone.
Genesis pictures the awful scene of man fleeing from God & himself from the presence of Yahweh. Revelation shows us the most wonderful & intimate communion between God & those He has redeemed: “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, & they will be his people, & God himself will be with them as their God.”
Finally, whereas Genesis shows us the tree of life, with an angel to keep us away from it, Revelation reveals our restored access to it: “Blessed are those who wash their robes, so that they may have the right to the tree of life…” (Revelation 22:14 ESV)
The theme of all of Revelation is that Christ is victorious over sin, death & the devil. Our heavenly Father’s plan, though for a while seemingly defeated, is seen, in the end, to triumph completely. In our lives also, God often seems defeated but James 1:12 gives us God’s answer to our despair: “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love Him.” Part of the message of Revelation is that while God promises us a resurrection from the dead, Yahweh is already now in the process of making all things new. We sure don’t see it, but He is asking us to believe it:
John 20:29 – Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen & yet have believed.” That seeing does not only have to do with Jesus, but with all of God’s creation. What we find in Revelation 21 is a description of the redeemed universe of paradise, as foreshowed by the redeemed Church of the present.
Certainly, the Church of today is not beautiful. It is fractured & divisive. It is filled with people who are confused, broken & torn. The picture which the gospels portray of the weakness of Jesus’ disciples, right up to Pentecost, is entirely evident in Christian congregations still. Yet, God’s dwelling with mankind will finally be perfected in the new heaven & the new earth.
Today, we are still thirsty, not only for water, but for the righteousness of Jesus Christ. Not all Christian churches are growing, & they’re not all impressive places to be, but they are what our Lord has chosen to work through, just like His crucifixion did not look to be a good way to grow His Church.
But Jesus knows our need to be justified. He knows our need to be made righteous, & He gave everything He had in order to accomplish that for us. Excuses are the work of Satan. Confession & forgiveness are the work of our loving Savior. So trust Him when He says:
“…Behold, I am making all things new.” Also He said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy & true.” (Revelation 21:5 ESV) Jesus said those words not just of the impressive Christians you have heard of or know. He said those words of you. Amen.
Christ, the living bread from heaven, food for body, food for soul; Christ, the manna
daily given, nourish, strengthen, make us whole. Feed us with the food of heaven, foretaste of the feast to be; quench our thirst with living water springing up eternally. Christ, the way that leads unfailing to the Father’s home on high, Christ, the truth that frees the captive, Christ, the life that cannot die. Mediator to the Father, sacrifice & great High Priest: lead us to Your heavenly mansions, there to share Your wedding feast. Amen.
 John 4:5-7, 9-11, 13-15 ESV
 Revelation 21:3 ESV
Pastor Dean R. Poellet