“The woman said to him, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.” Jesus 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.” The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.” (John 4:11-15)
As the narrative continues between Jesus and his encounter with a Samaritan Woman at Jacob’s Well, there are parallels between this dialogue and the one Jesus previously had with others. Nicodemas thought of the new birth strictly in the physical sense (John 3:3-10). This was also the case with the Jewish leaders and Jesus’ remark of destroying the temple of His body and in three days He would rise again (John 2:19-21). They thought Jesus was referring to the actual temple building.
The woman regarded Jesus’ reference to living water only in the physical sense. This is proven by her response to Jesus and the phrase living water. She replied, “Sir, you have nothing to draw water with, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water?”
There are three things we may observe in her statement. One, Jesus did not have any utensil with which to draw water supporting our earlier claim. Two, the well was a deep well and therefore productive but accessible with only the proper utensils. Third, she was curious and wanted to know how Jesus would manage to get that living water of which He spoke.
She then compared Jesus, in a rather condescending way, to the well’s namesake: Jacob. She rhetorically asked, “Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.” What she speculated was an answer with an obvious “no” reply was in effect a series of questions in which the answers were an obvious “yes.” Yes, Jesus is greater than Jacob for He is the God of Jacob. He is the One who led Jacob to the well and who gave the patriarch not only his physical riches but also eternal life. The very same eternal life this woman needs, as do we.
Much like with Nicodemas, Jesus explains what He means to the woman. “Jesus 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.”
There are several observations in Jesus’ statement that we must not overlook. First, He does reference the physical water found in the well, but the thirst it quenches is temporary. On the contrary, the living water Jesus specifically gives results in a quenched thirst that will never return. In fact, the individual will possess within them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.
It is at this point I remember the wonderful hymn Springs of Living Water by John W. Peterson.
I thirsted in the barren land of sin and shame, And nothing satisfying there I found; But to the blessed cross of Christ one day I came, Where springs of living water did abound.
Drinking at the springs of living water, Happy now am I, my soul they satisfy; Drinking at the springs of living water, O wonderful and bountiful supply.
The woman’s reply to Jesus is 2/3 accurate in its understanding. The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.”
She wants the living water which Jesus says He will give her. She does not want to be thirsty again. However, her last statement reveals that she is still thinking solely in physical terms when she says, “or have to come here to draw water.”
She wants what Jesus possesses, but only on her terms with respect to life right here and now. She is more concerned about relief from temporal problems and struggles, such as the physical toil of having to draw water. She still does not understand that Jesus possesses a “living water” which will truly satisfy her soul. Her’s is a soul which is in deep longing for an eternal and lasting relationship with God which she does not have, and has been looking for in all the wrong places.
What about you? In the words of the hymn writer, have you been thirsting in the barren land of sin and shame? Only Jesus can truly satisfy your soul.
Repent of your sin and receive Jesus and God the Father will declare you righteous, or justified, by grace alone, through faith alone, in the person and work of Jesus Christ alone. See Romans 3: 21-26.
Soli deo Gloria!