“Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters!”
Last Sunday we talked about Jesus refusing to turn stone into bread since stone, in essence, cannot be food, instead, Jesus talked about food that comes from the mouth of God. When we are hungry we have to eat food to satiate our hunger, no matter how hard Satan tries to make us believe that “stone” can satiate our hunger. We have to eat food that is given by God, created by God, sanctioned by God, –something God approves of as our “food” to fill our fleshly needs, not with stone.
Today’s text that comes from the lectionary reading from the Old Testament lesson talks about people who are thirsty. Everyone who “thirsts”, –the “thirsts” here can mean human desires or needs, like “bread” symbolizes something that satisfies our human needs or desires. Since we humans are subjected to our finite conditions, we have basic human needs such as food, sleep, and other biological needs.
We also have social and emotional needs or desires; we need love; we need friendship; we need somebody to lean on; someone to hold hands with, supporting one another. There are other kinds of desires that seem to lie beyond our reach. Be that what may, people try to go after them to have a sense of fulfillment or completion. Among the desires or the needs we humans have, there is the essential or the foundational need every human has, –the need to be connected to our maker, “the ground of our being”. We are restless, rootless without being connected to the true God, our creator. Without this need being met, people cannot find rest or peace with anyone around them, and with themselves. Those people who seem to have everything in their lives, yet not having the relationship with God, they have a harder time to fill the void inside them with the things of the world, –the void only God can fill. Some people build bigger houses, buy fancier cars, changing spouses, making more money, build strong careers, and going success after success, etc. Yet, no sense of satisfaction or sense of being complete is there in trying all other things to fill their voids. The harder they try to fill their voids with the things of the world, the emptier they feel. It is like shipwrecked sailors, when they thirst for water, in their desperation, they drink salt water, which makes them thirstier than ever. Heavy drinkers who thirst for water drink strong alcohols only to increase their thirst for water all the more.
We basically know who and what will satisfy our desires. We know that we need shelter to live in; the streets are not the place to live in. But there are some people who prefer to live in the streets. We need family and friends for our emotional needs, but some people resort in accumulating things more and more, seeking after money and fame, instead. Without our foundational need being met, being connected to God, our needs and solutions can be mismatched making our lives miserable. There are some people who eat and eat to fill their sense of emptiness and loneliness. Instead of making friends having their emotional needs met, they, instead, just eat. There are some people who mutilate their bodies to forget their emotional pains coming from unhealed wounds inside. Instead of solving problems they face, some people just drink alcohols and/or bury themselves under drugs, which make them further away from the community, living in isolation, like Gerasene demoniac who lived among the tombs away from people.
To these people, to us, today’s text says in verse 1, “Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.”
We have to note here “everyone”. God does not exclude anyone when it comes to the invitation to “the waters”. God wants to quench everyone’s thirst, not just some people. God wants to restore God’s image in everyone, not just some people. I met a patient the other day who is a transgender. She shared her story that she had the surgery to change her gender from being male to female at the age of 62, ten years ago. All her life up to that time, she felt so miserable being a male. She even attempted to commit suicide. After long years of consideration and consultations, she decided to have transgender surgery. She felt for the first time being natural after the surgery. She did not choose the surgery for a sexual purpose. She had never been gay. She just wanted to be felt natural. The problem was, her church kicked her out and denied her sacraments which had been very important in her life. From that point on, she became an agnostic.
What do you think? Do you think God has excluded her from inviting to come to the waters? I believe God invites everyone, including her, to the waters. I said to her that God loves everyone and wants to embrace everyone with God’s forgive grace. As long as we recognize that we are sinners who are in needing of God’s forgiving grace, then, we can come to God. I know there are some people who disagree with me. There are some people who believe that certain people cannot be Christians because they think “those certain people” are “condemned” in the Bible. Yes, I believe that Jesus said, “Sin no more” to the woman who was caught in the act of adultery. Yes, I believe that we Christians need to live a life of holiness because that is what God demands from us, “Be holy as I am holy!” I pray every day to be holy, be more like Christ, wanting to participate in the “divine character”. But I also believe that Jesus called Zacchaeus who was a tax collector who was condemned as a wretched sinner in Jewish society in Jesus’ time. Tax collectors and prostitutes were considered as the worst kind of sinners condemned to hell when Jesus lived in Judea. Yet Jesus called Zacchaeus who was sitting up on the sycamore tree, not because he was short, I believe, but because he could not be among the crowds because people ostracized him. He was isolated from people sitting up on the Sycamore tree. But we have to know for certain that even before Zacchaeus repented of his sins, Jesus called him and said, “Zacchaeus, come down. For I must stay at your house.” You know what? When Jesus invited Zacchaeus to be his friend, Zacchaeus repented of his sins. Our job is not to drive certain people up to a sycamore tree to be in isolation. Our job is to invite everyone to Jesus even if they are still struggling, far from being perfect, far from meeting our “standards” because that is what our God does, inviting everyone to quench their thirst. Jesus did not come to call the righteous but sinners.
If we really think about it, who is righteous before God? If our church welcomes only the righteous, then I do not think there will be anyone inside the church. I am sure you remember the story of a woman who was caught in the act of adultery. How many people remained to stone her to death after Jesus wrote on the ground that only those people who had not sinned could stone her? None! That is us! No one is without sin among us! Then, how can we say to certain people that you cannot belong to the church? If we post a guard to stop people from coming into our church at the door, checking whether they sinned or not, then, I do not think we will have anyone in the church today. We are all in need of God’s forgiving grace, –not just some people only, we all are! We all need to come to the waters to quench our thirst and be filled.
Secondly, when we come to the waters of life, not only our thirst is being quenched and our hunger being satiated, but also, we will be gladdened and will be nourished. Symbolically, wine is for gladness, and milk is for nourishment. Jesus invites us to make our joy complete and for our spiritual growth. Our joy can be complete, and our faith can grow to the fullest when we are connected to the root, our God. If our faith does not grow, and it stays the same as twenty years ago, then we need to come to the waters. If we do not know the full joy of salvation, the overwhelming sense of joy, then we need to come to the waters.
Then, how do we come to the waters?
Verses 6-7, “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.”
We have to forsake our unrighteous ways and thoughts. We have to turn to God. Repentance is the way by which God can be found. That is the way how we can seek/find God. Repentance is the sure way God can hear us when we call on his name. Let us come to the waters to be united with Jesus Christ who is the only one who can satiate our hunger and thirst. Amen!