Living Water

by Mike Ratliff

ἀπεκρίθη Ἰησοῦς καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῇ· εἰ ᾔδεις τὴν δωρεὰν τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ τίς ἐστιν ὁ λέγων σοι· δός μοι πεῖν, σὺ ἂν ᾔτησας αὐτὸν καὶ ἔδωκεν ἄν σοι ὕδωρ ζῶν. (John 4:10 NA27)

10 Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God and who is saying to you, ‘Give me to drink,’ you would have asked Him and He would have given you living water.” (John 4:10 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1)

Sacred Scripture clearly teaches us that those who are saved by God believe in the Lord Jesus, that is, they believe the Gospel or Good News. It is good news because it comes to those who realize they are helpless to justify themselves before God who is Holy, Righteous, and Just and also know for certain that their own righteousness is as filthy rags, that is, worthless. The good news is that someone else has paid their sin debt to God for them. They are no longer hopelessly in debt to God. Of course, this applies only to those who believe. The Apostle John used several images or analogies to vividly portray what it is to truly believe in Jesus. In John 6:56, 8:31, and 15:7 he used the physical image of believers abiding or remaining in Jesus and His Word. In John 8:12 and 12:35-36, he used the analogy of believers walking in and having the light. In John 6:53-56 he gives us our Lord’s hard preaching and His own standard of eating His flesh and drinking His blood. In John 6:35, 47-48, 50-51, and 53-58 he gives us our Lord’s image of real believers eating the bread of life. In John 4:10-14 and 7:37-38, we read of real believers drinking living water. In this post, we will look at John 4:1-42. 

Ὡς οὖν ἔγνω ὁ Ἰησοῦς ὅτι ἤκουσαν οἱ Φαρισαῖοι ὅτι Ἰησοῦς πλείονας μαθητὰς ποιεῖ καὶ βαπτίζει ἢ Ἰωάννης – καίτοιγε Ἰησοῦς αὐτὸς οὐκ ἐβάπτιζεν ἀλλ᾽ οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ – ἀφῆκεν τὴν Ἰουδαίαν καὶ ἀπῆλθεν πάλιν εἰς τὴν Γαλιλαίαν. Ἔδει δὲ αὐτὸν διέρχεσθαι διὰ τῆς Σαμαρείας. ἔρχεται οὖν εἰς πόλιν τῆς Σαμαρείας λεγομένην Συχὰρ πλησίον τοῦ χωρίου ὃ ἔδωκεν Ἰακὼβ [τῷ] Ἰωσὴφ τῷ υἱῷ αὐτοῦ· ἦν δὲ ἐκεῖ πηγὴ τοῦ Ἰακώβ. ὁ οὖν Ἰησοῦς κεκοπιακὼς ἐκ τῆς ὁδοιπορίας ἐκαθέζετο οὕτως ἐπὶ τῇ πηγῇ· ὥρα ἦν ὡς ἕκτη. (John 4:1-6 NA27)

1 Therefore, when Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard He was making and baptizing more disciples than John— 2 although Jesus Himself did not baptize, but only His disciples— 3 He left Judea and departed again into Galilee. 4 And it was necessary for Him to pass through Samaria. 5 He came into a city of Samaria called Sychar near the parcel that Jacob gave to his son Joseph.  6 Jacob’s well was there. Then Jesus, being weary from the journey was sitting at the well. The hour was about the sixth.  (John 4:1-6 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1)

Geography determined that going through Sychar of Samaria was the shortest distance between where Jesus was to where He was going, but this account indicates that it was subject to the sovereign and providential plan of God. The words “was necessary” translates the verb εδει, which is the Imperfect tense, Indicative mood, Active voice case of δεῖ or dei “to be necessary,” which always indicates divine necessity or requirement elsewhere in John: 3:7, 14, 30; 9:4; 10:16; 12:34; 20:9. On the other hand strict Jews, in order to avoid defilement, usually bypassed Samaria taking the longer route  that involved crossing the Jordan and traveling on the east side. The Samaritans were a racially mixed group of partly Jewish and partly Gentile ancestry, who were considered unclean by the Jews and were disdained by most Gentiles.

The Jews considered the parcel or field to be the traditional field that Jacob had given to Joseph and also later served as Joseph’s burial place. The well was dug by Jacob and was probably very deep. The sixth hour refers to noon. It was midday so it would be hot so the women who came to draw water would do so either in the morning or evening when it was cooler. Those who came at this time did so when no one else would be at the well because they were social outcasts due to their immorality.

ἔρχεται γυνὴ ἐκ τῆς Σαμαρείας ἀντλῆσαι ὕδωρ. λέγει αὐτῇ ὁ Ἰησοῦς· δός μοι πεῖν· οἱ γὰρ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ ἀπεληλύθεισαν εἰς τὴν πόλιν ἵνα τροφὰς ἀγοράσωσιν. λέγει οὖν αὐτῷ ἡ γυνὴ ἡ Σαμαρῖτις· πῶς σὺ Ἰουδαῖος ὢν παρ᾽ ἐμοῦ πεῖν αἰτεῖς γυναικὸς Σαμαρίτιδος οὔσης; οὐ γὰρ συγχρῶνται Ἰουδαῖοι Σαμαρίταις. ἀπεκρίθη Ἰησοῦς καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῇ· εἰ ᾔδεις τὴν δωρεὰν τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ τίς ἐστιν ὁ λέγων σοι· δός μοι πεῖν, σὺ ἂν ᾔτησας αὐτὸν καὶ ἔδωκεν ἄν σοι ὕδωρ ζῶν. λέγει αὐτῷ [ἡ γυνή]· κύριε, οὔτε ἄντλημα ἔχεις καὶ τὸ φρέαρ ἐστὶν βαθύ· πόθεν οὖν ἔχεις τὸ ὕδωρ τὸ ζῶν; μὴ σὺ μείζων εἶ τοῦ πατρὸς ἡμῶν Ἰακώβ, ὃς ἔδωκεν ἡμῖν τὸ φρέαρ καὶ αὐτὸς ἐξ αὐτοῦ ἔπιεν καὶ οἱ υἱοὶ αὐτοῦ καὶ τὰ θρέμματα αὐτοῦ; ἀπεκρίθη Ἰησοῦς καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῇ· πᾶς ὁ πίνων ἐκ τοῦ ὕδατος τούτου διψήσει πάλιν· ὃς δ᾽ ἂν πίῃ ἐκ τοῦ ὕδατος οὗ ἐγὼ δώσω αὐτῷ, οὐ μὴ διψήσει εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα, ἀλλὰ τὸ ὕδωρ ὃ δώσω αὐτῷ γενήσεται ἐν αὐτῷ πηγὴ ὕδατος ἁλλομένου εἰς ζωὴν αἰώνιον. λέγει πρὸς αὐτὸν ἡ γυνή· κύριε, δός μοι τοῦτο τὸ ὕδωρ, ἵνα μὴ διψῶ μηδὲ διέρχωμαι ἐνθάδε ἀντλεῖν. (John 4:7-15 NA27)

 7 A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.”  8 (His disciples had gone away into the city that they might buy food.)  9 Therefore, the Samaritan woman says to Him, “How can you being a Jew ask from me to be given a drink being that I am a Samaritan woman?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans).  10 Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God and who is saying to you, ‘Give me to drink,’ you would have asked Him and He would have given you living water.”  11 The woman said to Him, “Sir, you have no bucket and the well is deep. From where then do you have this living water? 12 Surely you are not greater than our father Jacob who gave us the well and he his sons and his cattle all drank from it?”  13 Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone drinking this water will thirst again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water which I will give to him will never thirst into the age, but the water which I will give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into eternal life.”  15 The woman said to Him, “Sir, give me this water that I may not thirst nor come here to draw water.”  (John 4:7-15 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1)

The fact that Jesus spoke to this woman is another indication of His divine appointment with her for this is an astonishing break with culture and tradition. What is this “living water” or ὕδωρ ζῶν? It literally refers to fresh spring water, but John identifies it as the Holy Spirit dwelling within a believer (John 7:38-39). The unregenerate, like this woman, do not understand what their real need is. The regenerate, on the other hand,  have a deep spiritual longing to know God personally and having this living water in him or her as a spring of water welling up to eternal life enables each of us to be satisfied in God forever. This woman is on the verge of this as our Lord is about to confront her sin, which is where we must all start with our own sin in order to come to a saving knowledge of Christ.

λέγει αὐτῇ· ὕπαγε φώνησον τὸν ἄνδρα σου καὶ ἐλθὲ ἐνθάδε. ἀπεκρίθη ἡ γυνὴ καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ· οὐκ ἔχω ἄνδρα. λέγει αὐτῇ ὁ Ἰησοῦς· καλῶς εἶπας ὅτι ἄνδρα οὐκ ἔχω· πέντε γὰρ ἄνδρας ἔσχες καὶ νῦν ὃν ἔχεις οὐκ ἔστιν σου ἀνήρ· τοῦτο ἀληθὲς εἴρηκας. λέγει αὐτῷ ἡ γυνή· κύριε, θεωρῶ ὅτι προφήτης εἶ σύ. οἱ πατέρες ἡμῶν ἐν τῷ ὄρει τούτῳ προσεκύνησαν· καὶ ὑμεῖς λέγετε ὅτι ἐν Ἱεροσολύμοις ἐστὶν ὁ τόπος ὅπου προσκυνεῖν δεῖ. λέγει αὐτῇ ὁ Ἰησοῦς· πίστευέ μοι, γύναι, ὅτι ἔρχεται ὥρα ὅτε οὔτε ἐν τῷ ὄρει τούτῳ οὔτε ἐν Ἱεροσολύμοις προσκυνήσετε τῷ πατρί. ὑμεῖς προσκυνεῖτε ὃ οὐκ οἴδατε· ἡμεῖς προσκυνοῦμεν ὃ οἴδαμεν, ὅτι ἡ σωτηρία ἐκ τῶν Ἰουδαίων ἐστίν. ἀλλὰ ἔρχεται ὥρα καὶ νῦν ἐστιν, ὅτε οἱ ἀληθινοὶ προσκυνηταὶ προσκυνήσουσιν τῷ πατρὶ ἐν πνεύματι καὶ ἀληθείᾳ· καὶ γὰρ ὁ πατὴρ τοιούτους ζητεῖ τοὺς προσκυνοῦντας αὐτόν. πνεῦμα ὁ θεός, καὶ τοὺς προσκυνοῦντας αὐτὸν ἐν πνεύματι καὶ ἀληθείᾳ δεῖ προσκυνεῖν. λέγει αὐτῷ ἡ γυνή· οἶδα ὅτι Μεσσίας ἔρχεται ὁ λεγόμενος χριστός· ὅταν ἔλθῃ ἐκεῖνος, ἀναγγελεῖ ἡμῖν ἅπαντα. λέγει αὐτῇ ὁ Ἰησοῦς· ἐγώ εἰμι, ὁ λαλῶν σοι. (John 4:16-26 NA27)

16 He said to her, “Go, call your husband and come here.”  17 The woman answered and said to Him, “I do not have a husband.” Jesus said to her, “Well you say, ‘I do not have a husband,’ 18 for five husbands you have had and now the one you have is not your husband. This you have truly said.”  19 The woman said to Him, “Sir, I see that you are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain and you say that in Jerusalem is the place where it is necessary to worship.”  21 Jesus said to her, “Believe me woman that an hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. 22 You worship that which you do not know. We worship that which we know because salvation is from the Jews, 23 but an hour is coming and now is when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for indeed the Father is seeking such people to worship Him. 24 God is Spirit and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”  25 The woman said to Him, I know that a Messiah is coming, the one being called the Christ, when He comes, He will declare to us everything.”  26 Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am.”  (John 4:16-26 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1)

Jesus confronts her immorality first. This obliterates the façade of her self-righteousness that she tries to resurrect with her reference to her religiosity. Jesus then contrasts genuine faith and worship with the empty religiosity of the Samaritans (not even knowing whom they worship) and the Jews (being tied to one place and tied to rite and ceremony). What is genuine worship of God? He is Spirit and those who truly worship must worship Him in spirit and truth. This means that genuine believers are the only ones who can worship God and this worship is not simply by external conformity to religious rituals and places but inwardly with the proper heart attitude. That is the “in Spirit” part. The “in Truth” part refers to worship of God consistent with the revealed Scripture and centered on the “Word made flesh” who ultimately revealed His Father (John 14:6). In v26 our Lord comes right out and declared Himself to be Messiah.

Καὶ ἐπὶ τούτῳ ἦλθαν οἱ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ καὶ ἐθαύμαζον ὅτι μετὰ γυναικὸς ἐλάλει· οὐδεὶς μέντοι εἶπεν· τί ζητεῖς ἢ τί λαλεῖς μετ᾽ αὐτῆς; ἀφῆκεν οὖν τὴν ὑδρίαν αὐτῆς ἡ γυνὴ καὶ ἀπῆλθεν εἰς τὴν πόλιν καὶ λέγει τοῖς ἀνθρώποις· δεῦτε ἴδετε ἄνθρωπον ὃς εἶπέν μοι πάντα ὅσα ἐποίησα, μήτι οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ χριστός; ἐξῆλθον ἐκ τῆς πόλεως καὶ ἤρχοντο πρὸς αὐτόν. Ἐν τῷ μεταξὺ ἠρώτων αὐτὸν οἱ μαθηταὶ λέγοντες· ῥαββί, φάγε. ὁ δὲ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς· ἐγὼ βρῶσιν ἔχω φαγεῖν ἣν ὑμεῖς οὐκ οἴδατε. ἔλεγον οὖν οἱ μαθηταὶ πρὸς ἀλλήλους· μή τις ἤνεγκεν αὐτῷ φαγεῖν; λέγει αὐτοῖς ὁ Ἰησοῦς· ἐμὸν βρῶμά ἐστιν ἵνα ποιήσω τὸ θέλημα τοῦ πέμψαντός με καὶ τελειώσω αὐτοῦ τὸ ἔργον. οὐχ ὑμεῖς λέγετε ὅτι ἔτι τετράμηνός ἐστιν καὶ ὁ θερισμὸς ἔρχεται; ἰδοὺ λέγω ὑμῖν, ἐπάρατε τοὺς ὀφθαλμοὺς ὑμῶν καὶ θεάσασθε τὰς χώρας ὅτι λευκαί εἰσιν πρὸς θερισμόν. ἤδη ὁ θερίζων μισθὸν λαμβάνει καὶ συνάγει καρπὸν εἰς ζωὴν αἰώνιον, ἵνα ὁ σπείρων ὁμοῦ χαίρῃ καὶ ὁ θερίζων. ἐν γὰρ τούτῳ ὁ λόγος ἐστὶν ἀληθινὸς ὅτι ἄλλος ἐστὶν ὁ σπείρων καὶ ἄλλος ὁ θερίζων. ἐγὼ ἀπέστειλα ὑμᾶς θερίζειν ὃ οὐχ ὑμεῖς κεκοπιάκατε· ἄλλοι κεκοπιάκασιν καὶ ὑμεῖς εἰς τὸν κόπον αὐτῶν εἰσεληλύθατε. Ἐκ δὲ τῆς πόλεως ἐκείνης πολλοὶ ἐπίστευσαν εἰς αὐτὸν τῶν Σαμαριτῶν διὰ τὸν λόγον τῆς γυναικὸς μαρτυρούσης ὅτι εἶπέν μοι πάντα ἃ ἐποίησα. ὡς οὖν ἦλθον πρὸς αὐτὸν οἱ Σαμαρῖται, ἠρώτων αὐτὸν μεῖναι παρ᾽ αὐτοῖς· καὶ ἔμεινεν ἐκεῖ δύο ἡμέρας. καὶ πολλῷ πλείους ἐπίστευσαν διὰ τὸν λόγον αὐτοῦ, τῇ τε γυναικὶ ἔλεγον ὅτι οὐκέτι διὰ τὴν σὴν λαλιὰν πιστεύομεν, αὐτοὶ γὰρ ἀκηκόαμεν καὶ οἴδαμεν ὅτι οὗτός ἐστιν ἀληθῶς ὁ σωτὴρ τοῦ κόσμου. (John 4:27-42 NA27)

27 At this time, His disciples came and were marveling that He was speaking with a woman. However, no one said, “What are you seeking, or why do you speak with her?”  28 Therefore the woman left her water pot and went away into the city and said to the men,  29 “Come see a man who told me all things whatsoever I did. Is this the Christ?”  30 They came out of the city and were coming to Him. 31 In the meanwhile, His disciples were asking Him saying, “Rabbi, eat!”  32 But he said to them, “I have food to eat which you do not know about.”  33 Therefore, the disciples were saying to one another, “Surely no one brought Him anything to eat?”  34 Jesus said to them, “My food is that I may do the will of the one who sent Me and complete His work.  35 Do you not say, “Yet four months it is and the harvest comes?” Look I say to you, ‘Lift up your eyes and see the fields that are already white for harvest.’  36 The one reaping wages receives and gathers fruit into life eternal in order that the one sowing and the one reaping may rejoice together.  37 For in this the saying holds true, ‘One does the sowing and another the one the reaping.’  38 I sent you to reap that which you have not labored upon. Others have labored and you have entered inter their labor.”  39 And of that city, many of the Samaritans believed in Him because of the Word of the Woman testifying, “He told me all things that I did. ” 40 Then when the Samaritans came to Him they were asking Him to remain with them, He remained there two days,  41 and many more believed because of His Word.  42 And they were saying to the woman, “We no longer believe because of your words. We have heard for ourselves and we know that He is truly the Saviour of the world.”  (John 4:27-42 Possessing the Treasure New Testament V1)

God picked the absolute best person to be the catalyst witness for the town. This woman was a moral outcast and now she was boldly proclaiming to everyone that Jesus told her about her sins. They came to Him and many believed as well. He stayed there two days and preached to them and many more believed. Isn’t it amazing how different this is from how most people picture how the Gospel should be preached or presented in our time? Remember, how this started. Jesus confronted this woman’s need for repentance. When that came, the worshiping God in Spirit and Truth part was part of having that dead heart of stone replaced with a living heart of flesh empowered by the Holy Spirit. God is Sovereign over salvation yet he uses workers in harvest. He does the sowing.

Soli Deo Gloria!

4 thoughts on “Living Water

  1. I love how gentle Jesus is and how he meets us where we are and as we are in all our filth and shame. Jesus knows when the Father is drawing someone to HIM. He knows of this divine appointment and will meet with us and expose our sins so gently. He knows when we are worn out with this physical life. Oh I have such tears in my eyes as JESUS is weary with us just like he was at the well with the woman. He sympathizes WITH us and bears those burdens of ours. He knows all life has offered us so far is emptiness and meaningless. He knows when we have become so “poor in spirit”

    I’ll never forget when Jesus saved me, I was free for the first time from the things that controlled my life, things that I thought made me happy and brought me purpose and meaning in life. I didn’t know that the very things I was clinging onto for happiness were subjugating me-burdening me and making me unhappy. to be set Free from the (NEED) of money, free from accumulating things or trying to impress other people is true freedom. I thought I needed those things. Sure they are necessities to live by but they are not what we truly need.

    I turn on my radio in my car and the majority of the problems addressed like having a better marriage or having a better family or whatever are all they talk about. I’m like where is Jesus? What happened to the gospel? What happened to the living waters of eternal life-true freedom? Why are all these “Christians” Going for all these external things again putting themselves back into the very bondage of needing things around us when Jesus gave us eternal life. The Living waters never run dry and yet many Christians try and seal it up with superficial things and quench the Spirit.

    I just wanna shake people to reality. Come on people wake UP

  2. Pingback: Religiosity and Unbelief « Possessing the Treasure

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