Bulletin Articles

Bulletin Articles

Jesus the Living Water

Jesus came into Samaria to a town called Sychar, where Jacob’s well was situated between mounts Ebal and Gerazim. Here a Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus simply said, “Give me a drink.” The woman was taken back because Jews and Samaritans had no dealings with each other, but this did not stop Jesus. He said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water” (John 4:10). While she was puzzled about how Jesus could draw water at this well, He said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (vv. 13-14). She wanted this water, and the conversation that ensued convinced her that Jesus was indeed the Prophet from God.

This theme of water is significant in Scripture. In John’s gospel, John the immerser baptized with water to identify the Messiah (John 1:19-34). Jesus turned water into wine (John 2). He then told Nicodemus that “unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God” (John 3:5). On the last day of the feast of booths, Jesus cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water’” (John 7:37-38). By the end of John’s account, when Jesus was pierced in the heart, “at once there came out blood and water” (John 19:34). Other references can be given, but these should suffice to show that water is an important theme.

Much can be said for each reference, but the brief focus here is on Jesus providing living water. In the Old Testament, living water (I.e., fresh or running water) was to be used to cleanse lepers and other defilements (Lev 14:5-6; 15:13; Num 19:17). Yet the living water provided in such contexts was limited to the time and place of its use. In John 4, the well was an important source for water, but it was still going to be limited. The water Jesus was offering is different. While the physical water was necessary to live, the water from Jesus leads to an even greater life, to eternal life. Koester offers these thoughts:

“The water in Jacob’s well was bound to a place; it needed to be hauled out by hand and it only quenched thirst for a short time. But the water Jesus promised was not bound to one place; it would spring up within a person so that he or she would never thirst again. The water from Jacob’s well could extend life for a while, but living water from Jesus would issue into life everlasting, which in John’s Gospel refers to life lived in relationship with God.” (Craig Koester, Symbolism in the Fourth Gospel: Meaning, Mystery, Community, 189)

When God gave Israel water in the wilderness, they people sang, “Spring up, O well! Sing to it!” (Num 21:17). God provided for them the gift of water so that they could live. God cared for them, led them by the Holy Spirit, revealed His word, and gave them every opportunity to live with Him. Sadly, they ended up rejecting Him, as Jeremiah noted,

“For My people have committed two evils:
They have forsaken Me,
The fountain of living waters,
To hew for themselves cisterns,
Broken cisterns
That can hold no water.” (Jer 2:13; cf. 17:13).

God was not done, though. His plan through the Messiah was to open up a fountain “for sin and for impurity” (Zech 13:1). In Jesus is fulfilled the psalmist’s thoughts: “For with You is the fountain of life; In Your light we see light” (Psa 36:9). His teaching is a “fountain of life,” as is the wisdom that pours forth from Him (Prov 13:14; cf 18:4).

Drinking from the living water offered by Jesus means that we are partaking of His teaching and the Spirit. Again, He said, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, ‘From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.’” But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive … (John 7:37-39). By committing to the living water, we are committing to God’s Son, His word, and living by His Holy Spirit, for “if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you” (Rom 8:11).

Jesus offers us Himself, the true Living Water from heaven who will cleanse us from our sin and give us eternal life. “There’s a fountain free, ’tis for you and me…”