Interview with John Piper
Founder & Teacher, desiringGod.org
Humans are movers. We move, literally — we can make a new home all over the world. We travel. We sightsee. As soon as wooden ships could traverse oceans, we jumped continents. Then steam-engine boats of iron came along, and then came along commercial jets. Most of the world is open to us today. So, what’s the difference between the frenetic globetrotting of an unsatisfied soul and the movement of a globetrotting soul satisfied in Christ and moving on mission? This was a point of application from Pastor John’s sermon on the woman at the well in John 4.
The clip comes in from Annabelle. Originally from Seoul, South Korea, she then moved to Los Angeles, and finally to New York City, where she lives now. Here’s the clip she sent: John Piper preaching on John 4, the woman at the well, back in 2009.
This is a sign either that she begins with a cavernous need she thinks only men can meet, or these men are not finding in her what they want, and they’re dropping her time after time after time, so that at the end she must be totally devastated that she’s been thrown out five times. One or the other, she’s left with a huge wound, a huge deadness. She can’t afford to feel anymore. She’s been hurt too many times. “I cannot feel any more; I just do it.” There’s some kind of bondage and slavery that drives her now.
She is locked, and Jesus is going to move in; he’s going to move in by showing her, “You are thirsty. You are so thirsty. Wake up. Wake up! You think it’s all about men. You think it’s all about romance. You think it’s all about being embraced and held. You think it’s all about having security. It’s not about any of that. It’s about me. It’s about water — and not sexually with me. It’s about me: Messiah, Savior, Prophet, water.”
Your soul is made to drink deep, deep, deep satisfaction from Jesus. And if you’re not, I know what you’re doing. You’re into a serial routine. Probably for most of you it’s not sex. Some of you it is for sure — jumping from bed to bed. We’re learning about Jesus here: compassion — aggressive, surgical, relentless love.
He knows everything about us. Isn’t it good to be known? It’s painful as all get-out, and good to be known by somebody — this kind of person anyway. He knows everything about you — absolutely everything. Kinky stuff, he knows; hidden stuff from your youth, he knows; financial stuff, he knows; thoughts, he knows; feelings, he knows; midnight stuff, he knows. He knows you completely, and he’s the most important person in the universe. Do you know yourself? You’re meeting yourself in this woman — the thirsts.
Whether because you’re an unbeliever and you’ve never even tasted, or because you’re a believer and something has begun to lure you to another fountain, you’re starting to go there. Or you’ve just blocked him out because you’ve got some hidden thing you want to keep doing or whatever. One of the evidences of not drinking deeply from Jesus is the instability of constantly moving from one thing to the next, seeking to fill the void.
You may be going through sexual partners, you may be going through friends, you may be going through jobs, you may be going through churches — just one after the other. You may be going through hobbies, Internet stuff, games. You may be going through hairstyles, you may be going through wardrobes, you may be going through cars. You may be going through locations of where you live because there is no deeply contented identity in Christ.
Deeply contented, deeply satisfied — that’s what water means. Living water is: “Your soul is a cavern of desire. And I offer myself to you,” Jesus says, “as water that lives — it becomes a well; it just satisfies. Day after day, you get up with hungers and longings and soul-achings in the morning. Come to me, and you’ll find stability of contented identity.” And then you don’t move around so much — jumping here, jumping there, jumping here, jumping there, crave, crave, crave, crave, crave, crave; nothing’s working.
Don’t you love people who are so deep with Jesus, they know where the water is? They live by the fountain. They never go anywhere; they just live there. They’re not jumping from job to job, and wife to wife, and girlfriend to girlfriend, and car to car, hairstyle to hairstyle — they are so there.
And here’s the interesting thing about that: That sounds static, doesn’t it? Bologna — it isn’t static. Believe me: it isn’t static. I don’t mean that the Christian life, with that kind of centered, deep, satisfied identity by the fountain — satisfied day after day freshly with new water coming up from this friendship and this relationship — I do not mean this is static.
There is a difference between confident movement in faith and the craving movement of frustration. “I’ve got to move because this is not working here — move, move, move.” Or, “This is so working, I’m taking it. I’ve got a plan. I’m making something of my life; I’m not wasting it. I am moving to China, moving to Ukraine, I’m moving to Southeast Asia. I am on the way because I’ve got my feet on a rock, and there’s a fountain coming up out of this rock. And it goes with me everywhere.” It’s Jesus — not any geographical location.
So, don’t hear me say that the movement in life — job to job, and hairstyle to hairstyle, and wife to wife, and sex to sex, TV program to TV program — that the alternative is frozen. You know that’s not what I’m talking about. This fountain is really a moving fountain, like a waterfall. I’ve used that analogy before. Stay under it; it moves. Oh, Jesus is a mover. He’s going to reach the nations; the fountain is on its way to the nations. Do you want to drink deepest? Go with him to the nations or the neighborhood. This text is about us: our cravings, our longings, our desperate questings, to find something that satisfies.John Piper (@JohnPiper) is founder and teacher of desiringGod.org and chancellor of Bethlehem College & Seminary. For 33 years, he served as pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is author of more than 50 books, including Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist and most recently Coronavirus and Christ.