Living Water for a Thirsty Soul

October 26, 2008

“Whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst.” John 4:14 (NASB)

When the Israelites thirsted in the wilderness, God gave them water from the rock, and the New Testament tells us that the rock was Christ (1 Corinthians 10:4). How interesting, then, that when Jesus put on flesh and walked the earth, He met a woman at a well. Even more interesting, the Rock asked her for a drink (John 4:7).

Could Jesus, Himself, have been thirsty? Sure. He was God, and He was also man, with the same basic needs we experience. He had been walking from Judea, in southern Israel, to Galilee in the north. Certainly He was thirsty. But His own thirst wasn’t uppermost in His mind. He asked her for a drink because He was on a mission.

Jesus could’ve gone a different route to Galilee, as the other Jews habitually did. But instead, He went through Samaria. The Samaritans were people of mixed blood, part Jewish and part Assyrian, which occurred after the Assyrians conquered Israel. The Jewish people had no dealings with Samaritans, but the Bible says that Jesus “had to pass through Samaria” (4:4). He had a purpose. He went to a particular city, to a particular well, not to satisfy His own thirst, but someone else’s.

When the Samaritan woman came to draw water and Jesus asked her for a drink, she replied, “How is it that You, being a Jew, ask me for a drink since I am a Samaritan woman?” (4:9). She saw Jesus through a racial lens, and moreover, the lens of a minority race. As a minority woman myself, I can imagine her thirsts. She might have thirsted for justice, equality, power, and acceptance, for a change in the status quo. Whatever her thirsts, Jesus knew them. He was there to deal with them.

He replied, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water” (4:10). Right away, Jesus deals with the issue of identity. He’s telling her to raise her sights higher. She saw Him as a mere Jewish man, but a mere man could not quench her thirst. None of us can quench our thirst until we understand Jesus’ true identity.

The woman responded, “Sir, You have nothing to draw with and the well is deep; where then do You get that living water? You are not greater than our father Jacob, are You, who gave us the well, and drank of it himself, and his sons, and his cattle?” (4:11-12). She’s trying to figure this out. This man couldn’t be greater than Jacob, a father of the faith, could He?

Jesus tells her, “Everyone who drinks of this water shall thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life” (4:13-14).

Here it is, the awesome truth, the truth that eluded the Israelites in the wilderness. If we seek anything apart from God to satisfy our thirst, it will never work. We will thirst again. Why? Because God created us to thirst for Him. He’s life to us, our truest need. The Israelites were focused on earthly needs—earthly water. And right now, that’s the Samaritan woman’s focus as well. She said to Jesus, “Sir, give me this water, so I will not be thirsty, nor come all the way here to draw” (4:15).

Jesus had an interesting response. He said, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” She must have been taken aback. She told Him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said, “You have well said, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; this you have said truly” (4:16-18).

Why would Jesus bring this up, especially when He already knew she didn’t have a husband? First, I believe He wanted to show her that she would thirst again, even if He gave her an unlimited supply of well water, which was what she thought she wanted. She would still thirst for all the other things she’d been thirsting for, including an intimate relationship. But also, He was pointing out that she was living in sin and that she needed a Savior. Finally, He was still raising her sights on the identity issue. His knowledge of her life let her know that He was no ordinary man.

The Samaritan woman was starting to catch on. She said, “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet” (4:19). She went on to address differences between the Jews and Samaritans regarding places of worship. But Jesus told her that a new hour had come, one in which the proper place of worship wouldn’t matter, for God was seeking true worshipers who would worship in spirit and truth.

I can just see her staring at Him, wondering if it could be true. She said, “I know that Messiah is coming (He who is called Christ); when that One comes, He will declare all things to us.” Jesus answered, “I who speak to you am He” (4:25-26).

What a huge moment! Jesus didn’t go around revealing Himself to anyone and everyone. But He revealed His identity to a Samaritan woman, to a thirsty woman. At this point, she left her waterpot and ran into the city to tell others about Him. Her mind was no longer set on earthly things. She didn’t care about that old well water anymore. She had found the living water, and nothing would ever be the same.

Heavenly Father, like the Samaritan woman, I thirsted for many things in my life. But I thank You for meeting me where I was and opening my eyes to the truth. Thank You for the gift of life, through Your Son, Jesus. Thank You for giving me living water, so that I never have to thirst again. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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