Living Water

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Today we are studying John 4:5-18. More specifically, we will be looking at what Jesus was saying when he offered “Living Water” to the woman at the well.
When studying the Bible, it is good to not just read, but to think it through. To ask questions, and find answers. For instance today, Jesus offered this woman Living Water. I want to learn more about that living water. The questions I started asking were:
What is Living water?
How do I get it?
What benefit is it? Or, what does it do?
So, we will be asking those questions and seeking the answers as we go.
Let’s ask God to open up our hearts and minds to learn what He has for us today.
I believe the Lord wants me to not just teach from His Word, but to teach others to study for themselves. Like the old adage, “Give a man a fish, you feed him for today. Teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime.”
So, today, I want to teach you how to study.

How to Study: Read the Bible.

Here is the study tip of the day: “Read the Bible.” Sounds funny doesn’t it? But, it isn’t that funny. Many people want to study, so they may, or may not, read the passage once. They will open a commentary, or what someone has written about the passage.
Opening a commentary to see what someone who has studied has to say is a lot like going to hear a sermon. It is good to take advantage of the gifts God has given to other members of the body of Christ. He has given gifts to each member of the body so that we can all be built up in Christ. I look at numerous commentaries after I study a passage to glean things I may have missed, or to see different ways of expressing the meaning of the passage. Commentaries by men who truly believe the bible is God’s authoritative, inerrant, infallible Word are good references.
However, when studying a passage, opening a commentary, or reading the study notes at the bottom of the page is the last thing we do when we study a passage.
The first thing to do is to read the Bible.
Read the passage.
Read the passage in its context—what is before and after the passage.
Read the book in which the passage is located.
Read the passage a couple more times, in different translations.
I not only want to teach, but to model what I teach. You cannot see what I do during the week, so, today, we will read the passage, in its context, in another translation. Last week we read it in the New International Version. Today we will read it in the English Standard Version.
John 4:1–42 ESV
Now when Jesus learned that the Pharisees had heard that Jesus was making and baptizing more disciples than John (although Jesus himself did not baptize, but only his disciples), he left Judea and departed again for Galilee. And he had to pass through Samaria. So he came to a town of Samaria called Sychar, near the field that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there; so Jesus, wearied as he was from his journey, was sitting beside the well. It was about the sixth hour. A woman from Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” (For his disciples had gone away into the city to buy food.) The Samaritan woman said to him, “How is it that you, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a woman of Samaria?” (For Jews have no dealings with Samaritans.) Jesus 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.” 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.” Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.” The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you say that in Jerusalem is the place where people ought to worship.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.” The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.” Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.” Just then his disciples came back. They marveled that he was talking with a woman, but no one said, “What do you seek?” or, “Why are you talking with her?” So the woman left her water jar and went away into town and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” They went out of the town and were coming to him. Meanwhile the disciples were urging him, saying, “Rabbi, eat.” But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” So the disciples said to one another, “Has anyone brought him something to eat?” Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work. Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, then comes the harvest’? Look, I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see that the fields are white for harvest. Already the one who reaps is receiving wages and gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.” Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me all that I ever did.” So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there two days. And many more believed because of his word. They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.”
Amen! He really is the Savior of the world! Let’s dig into this passage a little more.
We saw last week, when we looked at verses 1-4, that Jesus left Judea to go to Galilee.


John 4:4 states “Jesus had to go through Samaria.” We saw last week that there was another route, preferred by the Jews, that went around Samaria.
So, why does John write, “Jesus had to go through Samaria?”
Jesus had to go through Samaria because there were people there that needed to know him as their savior.
Did Jesus have a bad attitude? Did he ‘have’ (downcast, begrudgingly) to go through Samaria? Or, was his attitude positive, “I HAVE (excitedly) to go through Samaria!”?
I believe Jesus had a great attitude. As we look at Jesus life and ministry, we see him carrying out his mission to seek and save the lost willingly! He took joy in reaching out, in spite of the circumstances.
Jesus had to (excited, not begrduging) to through Samaria because he had a divine appointment with people who needed him as their savior!
Have you had your divine appointment?
Have you asked him for his eyes, his attitude for yourself? Do you have to go to work? Do you have to relate with your neighbors? Or, do you get to because today may be the divine appointment for someone?
Well, Jesus had to go through Samaria on his way to Galilee. He took the oppressively hot, dusty trail through Samaria.
John 4:5 NIV
So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph.


Sychar is near Shechem. Shechem was a significant location in Genesis. When Abraham first came to the promised land he built an altar (Genesis 12:6).
In Genesis 33:18-19 is whereJacob came to this spot and bought some land.
In Genesis 35:1-4 is where Jacob told his family to all give up their idols and false Gods, and then buried them under the oak at Shechem.
Deuteronomy 11:29 and Deuteronomy 27:12 is where God commanded the Israelites to proclaim the blessings and cursings of God from the Mosaic Covenant. And in Joshua 8:33 is when they followed those instructions.
In Joshua 24:25, it was at Shechem that Joshua, near the end of his life, reaffirmed the Mosaic Covenant with the people of Israel. And in that context learn that Joseph’s bones were buried near there.
Shechem was also a special location being a City of Refuge. That is a city to which someone who had been involved in an accident in which someone else died could flee, and not be put to death.
Sychar was only a few hundred yards from ancient Shechem.
John 4:6 NIV
Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon.

Jacob’s Well

600 yards southeast of the site of ancient Shechem (modern Balata), and 1000 yards south of Sychar

This well was not in any town. Each town had wells, but this one was outside of both.
I love this verse because it shows Jesus’ true humanity. Over the centuries, some have questioned whether Jesus was God, or man. This passage shows that Jesus was both. Jesus was God come in the flesh. He was fully man, and as a man he was tired from his journey. So, Jesus, being tired, sat down by the well.
Later in the passage, we see Jesus demonstrating His deity, as He tells what the woman has done.
Now, what happened when he was tired and sitting by the well?
John 4:7–9 NIV
When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.) 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.)
The Jews actually hated, and thought of Samaritans as worse than Gentiles. A gentile is anyone who is not a physical descendant of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Samaritans were a mixed race, being made up of Jews who had married Gentiles. They were sinners!
Did Jesus hate this woman as Jews would have? No. She was also someone who needed him as her savior. God loves sinners. And Jesus came to seek and save the lost. He came not for the healthy, but for sinners.
John 4:10 NIV
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.”
I want to break this verse down a little bit. To me, this verse is the key point of the passage.
Jesus starts by saying, “If you knew the gift of God.”

What is, “The Gift of God?”

Jesus pointed out that this woman did not know the gift of God. What is He talking about?
This woman was a Samaritan. She would have grown up being taught to revere the first five books of the Bible, and the Law of Moses. She would have grown up being taught that God will only accept you if you follow all of these commands perfectly.
Jesus knew that she did not understand how even those first five books point to the grace, and the gift of God!
What is the gift? Well, let’s look at some other passages where this expression, ‘Gift of God’ is used.
Romans 6:23 NIV
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

What is the Gift of God? Eternal life!

Ephesians 2:8 NIV
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—

What is the gift of God? Salvation

2 Timothy 1:6 NIV
For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands.
Spiritual Gifts
Ecclesiastes 3:13 NIV
That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God.
Acts 1:4 NIV
On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about.
The Holy Spirit coming and indwelling us! God being with us, in us! This goes back to the prophecies of the Holy Spirit indwelling all believers, and how He will… let’s read it together:
Jeremiah 31:33–34 NIV
“This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the Lord. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the Lord. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”
As Jesus pointed out, that this woman did not really know the Lord. She did not understand what God wanted to give her. He wanted to give her satisfaction. He wanted to give her salvation. He wanted to give her eternal life. He wanted to give her Himself, the Holy Spirit to indwell her, and teach her himself so she would know Him! He wanted to forgive and remember her sins no more! What a gift!
One other thing about this gift is not obvious in the English translation, but is obvious in the original Greek in which it was written. It is a Free gift.

FREE Gift of God

There are a couple different words for gift in the Greek language in which John first wrote this gospel. This particular word for gift emphasizes that it is free! The adverb form is translated ‘freely’.
Here are a couple other verses where this particular word is used:
Matthew 10:8 NIV
Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.
Romans 3:24 NIV
and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.
Revelation 21:6 NIV
He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life.
Why does Jesus emphasize that this is a free gift?
There are gifts that are not free.
Some people give ‘gifts’ because they expect something from you.
Sometimes, companies will give gifts called bonuses because you have done a good job. But is that a free gift? What if you did not perform well? Would you get the bonus? No, the bonus is not a free gift. It is an earned gift.
God wants to give us what we cannot earn. We have earned death, separation from God, by our behavior. We cannot earn life, being with God, because we all sin. That is why God wants to give us salvation in Jesus, freely! We cannot earn a bonus of salvation when our wages of sin bring death.

Who it is that asks

She really did not know that Jesus is God come in the flesh. She did not know that He alone is the one who could give her what she really longed for, what she needed.

He would have given Living Water

Living water is a contrast to stagnant pools of water.
Have you ever drunk water from a stagnant pool of water? How about a canteen after a long hike?
Now compare that with cool refreshing water from a spring.
How much more satisfying is the living water from a spring?
Throughout the scriptures, God uses this imagery to help people see the difference of what He offers, to the things of this world.
Ezekiel 36:24–28
Exodus 17:1-7
Psalm 36; Isaiah 32:2
Ps. 63:1
Isa. 35:6–7
Isa 44:3; 55:1; Jer 2:13; 17:13; Zec 14:8; Jn 7:37, 38; Rev 7:17; 21:6; 22:1, 17
Joel 3:18
John 4:11–14 NIV
“Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?” 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 4:15 NIV
The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”
She has her mind stuck on the physical water. She is not understanding the gift of God. She does not know the one who is offering her Living Water. And, she certainly does not understand living water is not just fresh water from a moving stream.
So, Jesus demonstrates his deity by showing her his knowledge of her, so she will begin to understand. She will first begin to understand who He is, and then she will understand the gift of God, Living Water.
John 4:16–18 NIV
He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.” “I have no husband,” she replied. Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”
When Jesus shows his knowledge of her, a woman he has never met (from her perspective), she is going to begin seeing who it is that is talking with her.
He does know her because He is God. He knows all about each of us.
He knew about how she has spent her life seeking satisfaction, seeking acceptance and love in the arms of men. She has sought life through relationships and found it to be empty and heart breaking.
This reminds me of Jeremiah 2:13.
Jeremiah 2:13 NIV
“My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.
This woman was trying to find satisfaction, to find satisfying life from her own, homemade cistern. But it was broken, and not able to really provide the satisfaction, the longing of her heart. She tried to find satisfaction, joy in life through relationships. And it led to brokenness. That is why she was at the well that was over 1000 yards from her home, in the heat of the day instead of going to the well closer to her home, in the cool of the morning or evening like the other ladies from town.
And she is not alone.
Let’s try to apply this passage to ourselves.
Like this woman, Jesus came to seek and to save the lost. He came to save us.
Like this woman, we long for life. We long for satisfaction in life, for something that will bring us joy and contentment. Something that will fill us with love and peace.
We all try to find real satisfying life in different ways:
lack of activity - brainless activity
But, at the end of the day, or the next day, we find that they are only broken cisterns. The cannot hold water. They cannot keep us satisfied. They cannot keep us from thirsting all over again the next day. They truly are empty pursuits.
Jesus is coming to you and to me, just like he came to this woman. He knows what we need. He is the author of life. He alone can provide real, satisfying, contented, peaceful life! He alone can provide eternal life! And, he wants to give it to us freely!
Romans 6:23 NIV
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 3:24 NIV
and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.
Jesus used a word for ‘gift’ in John 4:10 that emphasizes something about the gift. This word emphasizes the gratuitous nature of the gift—FREE. Study this word by reading where it is found in the bible: Matt. 10:8; Rom. 3:24; 2 Cor. 11:7; Gal. 2:21; Rev. 21:6; 22:17. Why does Jesus use the word for gift that emphasizes it is FREE?
Read Isaiah 55. This is the Old Testament prophecy to Israel about God’s future provision of Salvation. What is verse 2 talking about? What does God mean when He says, “Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy?” How is verse 7 an encouragement?
Read Romans 6:23; Ephesians 2:8; 2 Timothy 1:6; Ecclesiastes 3:13; Acts 1:4. What is the Gift of God?
Read Jeremiah 2:13 and Jeremiah 17:13. What are broken cisterns verses living water of God? Explain what this is talking about in your own words.
Read John 4:1-42 a couple times, in preparation for Sunday. What sticks out to you as you read?
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