Intimacy that quenches our soul thirst
“People soon become thirsty again after drinking this water,” said Jesus in John 4:13
The thirst that Jesus is speaking of here is for the “more than,” the transcendent. Why do we (including myself here) look in every place other than in Jesus? What are some waters that we think will quench us? Here are a few for me:
Sex, entertainment, sports, books, tv, movies, winning, control, power, being alone, being with people, work accomplishments, people “needing” me, money, stuff, food, drugs or alcohol, sleep, honor, compliments, appreciation, success, relationships, status, vacations, luxury. Yet the water that Jesus offers, satisfies that thirst we all have. He is the one whom we need and are longing for.
I am (ego eimi) the one you are looking for says Jesus to the woman in 4:26. Eugene Peterson’s Christ Plays in Creation writes about the ego eimi sayings of Jesus.
In saying these words that echo from Exodus 3:14, Jesus is claiming to be God himself. His listeners understood this since they prepared to stone him for blasphemy when he said this in Jn 8:58. According to Peterson, they knew he was saying, “I am God himself, here and now; I have always been, will always be.”
Peterson goes on to explain how the simple statement of Jesus, “I am” is an invitation into a conversation with himself, a conversation “marked by intimacy and leisure.” There is an invitation for those of us who are thirsting for a taste of the “more than” into his very life–Jesus is accessible to us! As Peterson says,
Jesus doesn’t try to impress us with big words or highfalutin concepts; he doesn’t flaunt his credentials; he doesn’t bully or intimidate with a show of authority. Jesus is in conversation with the same kinds of people we talk to most days and many of them we recognize in ourselves. 90
In a statement sure to shock some, Peterson says about John,
he is not nearly as interested in telling us anything new about Jesus (although he does plenty of that along the way) as he is in drawing us into an increasingly intimate relationship with Jesus. “Believe” and “love” are the characteristic verbs; neither can be accomplished in a hurry. 91 (italics original)
Later in the chapter, Peterson makes an amazing statement about belief.
The too often disregarded scriptural rule is that we cannot be made to believe. Belief by its very nature requires assent and participation, trust and commitment. When we believe we are at our most personal and intimate with one another, with the Other. Belief cannot be forced. If we are bullied or seduced or manipulated to believe, we do not end up believing, we end up intimidated or raped or used. And we are less, not more. 94
I know there are a lot of folks out there with a bad church experience (perhaps bullied, seduced and/or manipulated) and that may be keeping them away from Jesus. But, as we go back and read the stories of John, we discover/remember that there is no other place to find the soul quenching intimacy that Jesus offers!