What are you doing this Christmas? Seeing family? Sharing with loved ones? Listening to carols day after day down your street?
I absolutely love these Christmas holidays, I look forward to seeing people and enjoying my time off, Christmas is such a lovely time of year where we’re reminded of everything we have and the people we’ve come to love.
Asking around, I’ve found that to most of us, Christmas is a time for love, for sharing, for togetherness and relaxation, but at a time when we’re enjoying life and making the most of the holidays, why are we still left feeling so empty? Why, when we talk about generosity do we see all this poverty around us? Why, when we talk about love and togetherness, is it that at this time people can feel even more depressed and lonely?
You see, I’m willing to guess that maybe there’s a reason for all of this, maybe there is actually something missing, something that can fill that emptiness we’re feeling, maybe there really is something that can take away that depression, or that anxiety, or that loneliness you’re feeling that you don’t let anyone else see, because bottling it up, or not admitting it will somehow make things better, or when that friend who always has your back then lets you down.
Our culture today has been desperately trying to fill in this hole, ‘sex, have it and you’ll forget all your worries’, ‘why not drink all that stress away?’ Or Technology, ‘get the new iPhone this Christmas and your life will be complete’. Idolism, games consoles, new clothes, pets, and least noticeable of all is food, we all have something that we’ve been using to try and fill this hole, and Christmas helps us to appreciate it even more, ‘oh, I wonder what presents, what experiences, what joys I’ll be able to fill my life with this Christmas!’
But that’s the thing, even back around the time of Jesus, 2000 odd years ago, he meets an outsider, a Samaritan woman who had been using husbands and adultery to try and fill this emptiness in her life. John, an eyewitness records how they meet outside the city as she collects water from a well. Jesus comes up to her and asks her for a drink and in the next few events that follow, he starts talking about living water, that comes from God.
You see, as with food, and clothes and all the things I mentioned earlier, no matter how much we are satisfied by these things, sooner or later they run out, or they become outdated and we want the next version, the latest model and even our friends will let us down at some point.
The presents we get at Christmas will only keep us occupied for a short while, if that, and what do we get after Christmas? That low, the feeling we get when we know we’ve got to go back to work, or studies, or another year that’s going to drag on.
Even with fame, wisdom and recognition, once we’re gone from this planet, sure if you’re really popular, people may talk about you a year after you’re gone, or even 10. I remember reading about an experiment that was done on three generations of university students in America on their ability to recall presidents and it concluded that the majority of American presidents are forgotten by people on average in under 50 years.
So why is the point of all of this if, in under about a hundred years time there will be next to no trace of our very existence? Nothing we can have or do on earth will last and nothing that we’ll ever have will ever truly satisfy us, give us that true fulfilment in life.
In this story Jesus asks the woman for a drink not only because he is thirsty, it’s hot and in the middle of the day, but because he wants to make a point, you see, even water will only sustain our thirst for a little while. But then he says this: “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” That’s right, Jesus offers us this living water, this satisfaction, this feeling of completeness in such a broken world. This feeling of emptiness inside Jesus is saying here is that it’s actually a God shaped hole, that nothing else can fill.
Though our bodies will one day rot in the ground and then be forgotten, God will never forget us, as it says in Isaiah 49, and he offers this free gift of grace, this gift of forgiveness from the wrongdoings of the world, and the wrongdoings of ourselves, and in receiving this forgiveness, we are invited to eternal life, life spent forever with God.
Why? you might be asking, well in the very previous chapter in John 3, Jesus actually explains, for God loved every human being in this world past and present so much, that he sent Jesus, his son, a perfect being who had done nothing wrong, to die for us, in place of us, for everything that we’ve done wrong so that, whoever amongst us believes in him, will have eternal everlasting life with him. Not only did he die, but he came to life again, and showed that he has power over life, and death!
And that’s the real message of Christmas, not the presents or the carols or the food, but love, love shown from God to us, by lowering himself down as a baby, living amongst us, and dying for us, so that we could have the greatest gift of all, real life, a full life, an eternal life with him.
So are you ready to let him into your life, are you ready to say, yes, Jesus, I do want to know you, to have your living water that never runs out. Later the woman at the well seemed to think so, I’ve decided to, so what about you?
At the heart of the human problem, is the problem of the human heart. Jesus is ready and waiting for us to turn back to him, and allow him into our hearts, that’s the only way we can get out of this feeling of brokenness, and though life won’t be perfect afterwards, he will always be there with us and he wants us to know him better.
So if this Christmas time, you know you want Jesus to come into your life and by his forgiveness and healing power fill you up so that you’re no longer feeling empty inside, or maybe you’ve never heard any of this before, or never quite realised how incredible this message really is, I’d really like to encourage you to speak to a Christian friend, or to me and you can invite Jesus into your life today, don’t let this pass you by without finding out more, and don’t let Christmas pass you by without knowing what it’s really about.