“A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) Jesus answered 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 4:7-10).
One of the truths which John 4 brings to light is that Jesus, as a human, experienced fatigue and thirst. John 4:6 says, “Jacob’s well was there; so Jesus, wearied as he was from his journey, was sitting beside the well. It was about the sixth hour.
It is Noon. It is presumably hot and sunny. Jesus is sitting beside the well by Himself. The area where what is known as Jacob’s Well is a desert and arid region. Jesus has nothing with which to draw water from the well. His humanity is also in view in that His disciples had gone to Sychar in order to buy food.
John Calvin explains, “And Jesus, fatigued by the journey. He did not pretend weariness, but was actually fatigued; for in order that he might be better prepared for the exercise of sympathy and compassion towards us, He took upon Him our weaknesses, as the Apostle shows that ‘we have not a high priest who cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities,’(Hebrews 4:15).”
Then along comes a woman from Sychar. Notice again that it is the Noon hour. Perhaps the hottest time of the day. The sun is at its peak. Yet this woman comes to the well to draw water at this time. She also comes alone. Normally, the women would draw water in the morning, or in the evening, in the cool of the oncoming or concluding portion of the day. It would also be a social gathering for them. Yet, this woman is alone. Why? At this point in the narrative, we are left to wonder but you get the sense that she is an outcast. John 4:16-18 will verify this speculation that her community had rejected her.
One commentator explains, “This helps explain why she was so surprised when Jesus asked her for a drink, for she was an immoral woman, and one would not ordinarily converse with a known immoral person in that culture. Furthermore, He had no bucket with which to draw water, so He would have had to drink from hers, but Jews and Samaritans did not ordinarily share the same vessels for food and drink (vv. 8–9, 11). But Jesus did not press her on her reluctance to serve Him water; rather, He took the opportunity to teach her something about Himself.”
Dr. John MacArthur explains, “For a Jewish man to speak to a woman in public—let alone to ask from her, a Samaritan, a drink—was a definite breach of rigid social custom as well as a marked departure from the social animosity that existed between the two groups. Further, a “rabbi” and religious leader did not hold conversations with women of ill repute (v. 18).
However, Jesus and the woman still had something in common. They were physically thirsty and needing water. Yet she was in need of something more. The phrase “living water” has a definitive Old Testament meaning regarding the identity of God. Jesus uses it figuratively to identify Himself as God.
Jeremiah 2:13 says, “for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.”
Zechariah 14:7-8 says, “And there shall be a unique day, which is known to the LORD, neither day nor night, but at evening time there shall be light. On that day living waters shall flow out from Jerusalem, half of them to the eastern sea and half of them to the western sea. It shall continue in summer as in winter.”
The Old Testament describes God as being likened to “living waters.” This is synonymous with the source of life in a desert region. Water was a source of refreshment and sustenance. What was true in the physical sense in relationship to one’s life in Palestine pictures truth in a spiritual sense in relationship to one’s life with God.
Dr. MacArthur states, “The OT is the background for this term, which has important metaphorical significance. In Jeremiah 2:13, Yahweh decries the disobedient Jews for rejecting him, the “fountain of living waters.” The OT prophets looked forward to a time when “living waters will flow out of Jerusalem” (Ezekiel 47:9; Zechariah 14:8). The OT metaphor spoke of the knowledge of God and his grace, which provides cleansing, spiritual life, and the transforming power of the Holy Spirit (cf. Isaiah 1:16–18; 12:3; 44:3; Ezekiel 36:25–27). John applies these themes to Jesus Christ as the living water, which is symbolic of eternal life mediated by the Holy Spirit from him (cf. John 4:14; 6:35; 7:37–39). Jesus used the woman’s need for physical water to sustain life in this arid region in order to serve as an object lesson for her need for spiritual transformation.”
Dr. R.C. Sproul writes, “The water of life Jesus provides meets not just a need of the moment but a need for all eternity. If we trust anyone else for spiritual life, we will continue to thirst. But if we come to Him alone for salvation, we will be satisfied now and forever. Let us seek the only living water and its only Provider—Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Have you personally received Jesus Christ, the living water? Only He can truly satisfy the thirst within your soul. Receive Him today and never be thirsty again.
Soli deo Gloria!