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John 4:1-15 – Jesus Promises “Living Water”

Summary

While traveling through Samaria, Jesus encounters a woman at a well and tells her that he can provide a "living water" that will extinguish all thirst.

Analysis

Jesus meets a Samaritan woman beside a well and tells her about living water. The expression living water can have different meanings. In most contexts, living water simply meant flowing water, like the water in a spring or stream. Ordinary living water would quench bodily thirst and thereby enable people to live in the ordinary physical sense. Jesus, however, uses living water as a metaphor for the Spirit that meets people's thirst for life in relationship with God (John 7:37-39). Jesus says that the spiritual water that he provides brings people eternal life (4:14). The living water or Spirit does this by bringing people to faith, since faith is the way people relate rightly to God. In faith, people already experience life in relationship with the eternal God. This life of faith also has a future through the promise of resurrection to everlasting life.

John 4:1-15

Jesus and the Woman of Samaria

4Now when Jesus* learned that the Pharisees had heard, ‘Jesus is making and baptizing more disciples than John’— 2 although it was not Jesus himself but his disciples who baptized— 3he left Judea and started back to Galilee. 4But he had to go through Samaria. 5So he came to a Samaritan city called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired out by his journey, was sitting by the well. It was about noon.

7 A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, ‘Give me a drink’. 8(His disciples had gone to the city to buy food.) 9The Samaritan woman said to him, ‘How is it that you, a Jew, ask a drink of me, a woman of Samaria?’ (Jews do not share things in common with Samaritans.)* 10Jesus 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.’ 11The woman said to him, ‘Sir, you have no bucket, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? 12Are you greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us the well, and with his sons and his flocks drank from it?’ 13Jesus said to her, ‘Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.’ 15The woman said to him, ‘Sir, give me this water, so that I may never be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.’

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10 February 2011

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