There is nothing more refreshing on a hot summer day than a glass of cold water. I know you may have another favorite, and in the Southern part of the United States it’s hard to compete with sweet tea. But for me, water wins.
In chapter 4 of John’s gospel there is a story that deals with Jesus, a well, a woman, and water. In this chapter in the book of John, Jesus stops by a well and asks a Samaritan woman for a drink of water. Within the conversation Jesus proceeds to make the following statement:
“Jesus answered her, ‘If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water’” (John 4:10).
If you were to inject yourself into that situation, I think your question would be very similar to hers. What exactly is this “living water” that Jesus mentions? When you really understand the nature of water, I think it will help you recognize the importance of this living water.
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What Does Water Represent in the Bible?
In John 4 Jesus had just left Judea and was heading back to Galilee. On his way back, the Bible tells us that Jesus had to go through Samaria. He could have gone around Samaria as many Jews in that day did because they did not want to associate with Samaritans. Jews looked down on Samaritans and considered them half-breeds. However, Jesus purposely chose not to do that. While on this journey with his disciples he gets tired and he stops at a well. A Samaritan woman comes to the well and Jesus asks her for a drink of water. It is here that we see the tension that exists between Jews and Samaritans
“The Samaritan woman said to him, ‘You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?’ (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans)” (John 4:9).
It is in this context of a tired Jesus sitting and having a conversation with a woman at a well that we discover Jesus’ real intention. He did not come to that well to get water. He came to that well to give water. This is the living water that Jesus mentions.
Though Jews may have hated Samaritans, Jesus didn’t. He came to bring salvation to everyone and he loved the people of Samaria just as much as he loved everyone else. This is the same type of love Jesus continues to have to this day. Jesus does not just concern himself with the societal elites. Yes, he does love them too, however he puts the same value on the outcast and the ones that may be rejected by mainstream society as the ones who aren’t. The Samaritans may have been rejected by Jews, but not by Jesus.
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What Does Jesus Mean When He Says "Living Water"?
To understand what the living water is that Jesus mentions you should understand the role of water in general. If you think about it in a purely physical or human context, water has fantastic benefits for the human body. There are volumes written on the benefit of water so let me focus on just five which I am taking from the Everyday Health website.
1. Water Protects Your Tissues, Spinal Cord, and Joints
2. Water Helps Your Body Remove Waste
3. Water Aids in Digestion
4. Water Prevents You from Becoming Dehydrated
5. Water Helps Your Brain Function Optimally
To sum it up, in the natural body water protects, helps, aids, and prevents. If this is what water does in the natural world, then what is this living water Jesus mentions going to do for you spiritually?
It is important to understand what is the nature of this living water that Jesus mentions. This living water is referring to the Holy Spirit which Jesus gives to everyone who believes. Let me show you another Scripture where this living water is mentioned:
“On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, ‘Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.’ By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive’” (John 7:37-39).
When you compare natural water with living water here are five things the living water of the Holy Spirit will do in your life.
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Five Things Living Water Will Do for You
1 - Protect Your Salvation
“And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory” (Ephesians 1:13-14).
2 - Help Remove Sin from Your Life
“So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh” (Galatians 5:16).
3 - Aid in Digesting the Truth of God’s Word
“But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you” (John 14:26).
4 - Prevent Your Soul from Drying Up and Keep Your Heart Tender before the Lord
“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws” (Ezekiel 36:26).
5 - Help You Function as a Better Witness for Jesus
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
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What Can We Do to Have Living Water?
Within this verse in John, we find the answer to getting or having this living water. You simply must ask for it. Notice what Jesus says,
“Jesus answered her, ‘If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water’” (John 4:10, emphasis added).
If you don’t know Jesus as your personal savior then when you repent and ask for forgiveness he will give you the Holy Spirit. However, that is just scratching the surface of the work of the Holy Spirit in your life. God’s desire is to fill you so that rivers of living water will flow out of you. This means that if you want more of the Holy Spirit working in your life, you simply need to ask God for it. Consider this verse in Luke:
God is ready and willing to pour out more of the living water of his Holy Spirit in your life. What he is looking and waiting for is a vessel that is ready and willing to receive it. Regardless of your past sins or things you may be ashamed of, God is ready to welcome you. The bottom line is if you want more, you can have more.
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When you think about the living water that Jesus mentions it takes me back to the beginning of this article, thinking about that refreshing glass of cold water on a hot summer day. Jesus has provided the living water of the Holy Spirit to refresh you, to encourage you, and to help you accomplish his will in your life in the earth. Just as your body can’t last long without water, your spirit can’t last long without the living water of the Holy Spirit. That’s why Paul reminds us to do one thing:
“Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 1:18).
I encourage you to drink of this living water and drink much because it will satisfy your soul. Don’t be satisfied with just a little bit, but get all you can. When you do you will no longer thirst for the things of this world because you will find fulfillment in the water that only Jesus can give.
It’s free. It’s available. It’s yours. All you have to do is ask and he will give it to you. I leave you with the words of Jesus:
“Jesus answered, ‘Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:13-14).
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Clarence L. Haynes Jr. is a speaker, Bible teacher, author and co-founder of The Bible Study Club. He has spent more than 30 years serving the body of Christ in various capacities and has just released his first book, The Pursuit of Purpose. If you have ever struggled trying to find God’s will, this book will help you discover the different ways God leads you into his perfect will. To learn more about his ministry please visit clarencehaynes.com.