Jesus broke several Jewish traditions by asking the Samaritan woman for a drink of water. In response the Samaritan woman broke several Samaritan traditions by giving Him a drink and by speaking to Him. Now an open conversation between them is ready to begin.
I. THE TRANSITION TO “LIVING WATER”. (verse 10)
Jesus responds to her question by appealing to her curiosity rather than answering her question directly. She asked Him: “How is it that you, being a Jew, ask me for a drink since I am a Samaritan woman? Jesus responds by saying, “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.” The Lord Jesus is saying, in effect, “I’m not really who you think I am” and “I have something to give you that you don’t really comprehend.” Jesus used this very same approach with Nicodemus when He said to him, “You must be born again.” We will find that these two conversations follow a similar pattern throughout.
I. JESUS APPEALS TO HER CURIOSITY (verses 10-12)
So here in verse 10 Jesus is telling her that, before she can receive the gift that God wants to give her, she must first have a correct understanding of the gift, as well the identity of the One who is speaking to her and offering it to her. Only then will she understand that He alone is capable of giving her this gift if she asks for it.
The woman’s response , in verse 11, demonstrates that she misunderstands what Jesus is saying. “She said to Him, ‘Sir, you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep; where then do You get that living water’?” She thinks Jesus is speaking about physical water, and there is a logical reason for this misunderstanding. The words “living water” were sometimes used to describe moving water, such as a river or stream, or gushing water, such as a spring or geyser. However, this well did not fit either of those two descriptions. This well had what is called “percolating” water. The word literally means “filters through”, or “seeps through”. The water in this well gradually seeped upward through the rock or stone at the bottom of the well, providing a steady supply of water. If you’ve ever used a percolator coffee-maker, you know what I mean. The hot water at the bottom of the pot rises up the tube, splashes down on the coarse-ground coffee beans and the result is boiling-hot coffee. Drinking it is an art-form. I call it the “blow and slurp method”! My dad used to do it loudly, but to perfection! Once you got below “slurp level”, the coffee had cooled slightly so that you could start sipping it without the danger of blistering your lips! Do you remember those days?
Getting back to the conversation, the woman is trying to figure out how Jesus is going to get this “living water” out of the well without a bucket and a rope. You don’t walk through the desert for three days without bringing a bucket and a rope to draw water from wells along the way. I’m sure the disciples brought them along and had them as they went to town to buy groceries. I think she sincerely wants to believe what He is saying, but from her perspective it still doesn’t make any sense. She thinks He is talking about physical water. This is all part of Jesus’ plan, just as it was with Nicodemus. He is adding information for her to consider in order for her to come to the conclusion that what He is saying is physically impossible, so that He can, step-by-step, direct their conversation to spiritual realities as the only explanation.
In verse 12 the woman becomes defensive because she thinks that Jesus is comparing His water to the water in Jacob’s well. This leads her to question whether or not He is comparing Himself to Jacob. “You are not greater than our father Jacob, are you, who gave us this well, and drank from it himself, and his sons, and his cattle?” Her understanding of Jesus is growing. First, she called Him “a Jew”; now she is comparing Him with the patriarch Jacob, who dug this well.
II. JESUS APPEALS TO HER DESIRE (verses 13-15)
In response to this woman’s frustration and defensiveness, Jesus carries the conversation a step further, in verse 13, by appealing to her desire. She doesn’t like having to walk all the way to Jacob’s well in the heat of the day to draw water and carry it home, but she can’t survive without water and there is no other way for her to get it. So Jesus says in verses 13 and 14, “Everyone who drinks of this water (in Jacob’s well) shall thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; for the water that I shall give him shall become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.” The Lord Jesus is making it clearer to her that this water is spiritual water by using the words ‘shall never thirst again” and “water springing up to eternal life”. He is also saying that this water is a gift. She can’t work to obtain it. She must only ask Him for it in faith.
Now the woman wants this water – she really wants it! In verse 15 I can sense excitement in her voice as she replies to Jesus’ words. “Sir, give me this water, so I will not be thirsty, nor come all the way here to draw.” She has taken another step in the right direction. She still thinks that Jesus is speaking of physical water, but now she wants it, and she asks Him for it. Even if a bit of humor could be detected in her voice, the inner desire was real.
This woman apparently was not very knowledgeable of the Old Testament scriptures because there are many scripture passages in the Old Testament where the words “living water” and “thirst” are used in a spiritual sense. And yet, none of those passages of scripture came to her mind. For example, in Psalm 42:2 the psalmist says, “My soul thirsts for the living God”. Psalm 39:9 says, “For with Thee is the fountain of life.” The prophets Isaiah and Jeremiah used those terms several times. They are also used by Ezekiel and Zechariah.
Like the woman at the well, each of us is composed of body (physical make-up), soul (intellect, emotions, will), and spirit (a capacity for fellowship with God). It is usually obvious to us when our bodies are thirsty. Normally, when our bodies get low on fluids, our brains sense this and give us a thirst – a desire or impulse to satisfy that need by getting something to drink. We may also have physical symptoms such a dry mouth or throat, or a feeling of weariness. Our souls also get thirsty. Just as each of us is different physically, we also differ emotionally and intellectually. We have mental and emotional thirsts for knowledge, for meaning, for stability and for peace in our daily lives. When these thirsts of ours aren’t being satisfied, we may feel drained, stifled, discouraged or depressed. You might say that the soul is the essence of who we are, whereas the spirit is our connection to God.
Each of us also has a spiritual thirst, whether we want to acknowledge it or not. God put it there. He created us in His image so that we might have fellowship with Him. King David, as well as the sons of Korah, speak of their thirst and yearning for God. (Psalm 42:2; 63:1; 143:6).
Are you personally unsatisfied with life? Are you longing for something more, something that earthly things, earthly endeavors, earthly relationships and earthly pleasures have failed to provide? It’s probably because Someone is missing from your life. Don’t you think it’s time to reach for the living water that only Jesus provides. If you repent of your sins, release the control of your life to Him, then He will fill your life with the living waters. Your dissatisfaction with life will end, you will be filled with new life, new peace, new purpose, and refreshment that never ends. Why waste another “percolated” moment when it can be “spring-time” in your life forever?
If you are a true, born-again believer in the Lord Jesus Christ, your life will be evidenced by joy and satisfaction. But witness by life is not enough. Have you been offering anyone a drink? There’s more than enough “living water” to go around. It’s our God-given responsibility to share it, and it should also be our delight to quench someone else’s spiritual thirst. Don’t you want to hear the words, or see the expression on people’s faces that says, “Ahhhhh , , , that satisfies like nothing else can!”
May you find in God’s Word, and in the Person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ, the answer to your emotional and spiritual thirsts. Then may you come to Him in faith, drink deeply, and satisfy those thirsts forever.
You might enjoy the songs I found on YouTube that relate to this passage of scripture. The first song is “Living Water” and shows slides along with the song. Clicking the following link should take you there. https://youtube.com/watch?v=D1Xs3Kdur7E. When you get to the site, if you click the full-screen icon at the bottom of the screen on the far right, you will get the full, visual effect.
The second song is “Fill My Cup, Lord”, sung by Wanda Jackson along with a video. I was unable to set up a clickable link, but if you type into your web browser: fill my cup lord-wanda jackson-video, you’ll see a list of her songs, and the version with the video is the second one. Both of these songs are beautiful renditions and have very good visual effects.