Tim Keller

Jesus is not just telling us that what he has to offer is rich, fulfilling, and lifesaving — he’s also revealing that it satisfies from the inside [John 4:7-19]. He says, ‘My water, if you get it, will become in you a spring of water welling up to eternal life.’ He’s talking about deep soul satisfaction, about incredible satisfaction and contentment that doesn’t depend on what is happening outside of us. So I ask you, what will make you happy? What will really give you a satisfying life? Almost always you will answer by thinking of something from outside of you. Some of us have our hopes set on romantic love, some on career, some on politics or a social cause, and some of us on money and what it will do for us. But whatever it is that makes you say, ‘If I have that, if I get there, then I’ll know I’m important, then I’ll know I have significance, then I know I’ll have security’ — it’s likely something outside of you. Yet Jesus says, there’s nothing outside of you that can truly satisfy the thirst that is deep down inside you. To continue the metaphor a bit further, you don’t need water splashed on your face; you need water that comes from even deeper down inside you than the thirst itself. And Jesus is saying, ‘I can give it. I can give you absolute, unfathomable satisfaction in the core of your being regardless of what happens outside, regardless of circumstance.

Something strange gets in the way of our hearing what Jesus is talking about, and I think it’s that most of us aren’t able to recognize our soul-thirst for what it is. As long as you think there is a pretty good chance that you will achieve some of your dreams, as long as you think you have a shot at success, you experience your inner emptiness as ‘drive’ and your anxiety as ‘hope.’ And so you can remain almost completely oblivious to how deep your thirst actually is. Most of us keep telling ourselves that the reason we remain unfulfilled is because we simply haven’t been able to achieve our goals. And so we can live almost our entire lives without admitting to ourselves the depth or our spiritual thirst.

– Tim Keller