Water. We take water for granted. I just go into the kitchen or bathroom and there it is. The closest I come to understanding water from any other perspective, is when I am camping. When we camp with no hookups for the trailer (did you catch that, it still comes from a faucet…), water becomes a resource to be managed. Many people in the third world have very limited access to water. The daily gathering of water is an entire days struggle. I have a friend that has the opposite situation. She has an artesian well. The water just flows out of the ground and runs down the ditch. When I visit, no matter the season, there is water running down beside the road.
John 4:10-14 (ESV)
10 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.” 11 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? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and his livestock.” 13 Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 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.”
Water can be acquired in several ways. If you live by a river, you can just dip it out. It can be pumped from a well, either by a manual pump or by a powered pump. The image we have of ancient cultures is the pumpless well. One would bring a container, lower it into the well, allow it to fill, then pull it up out of the well. It would then be carried to the place it was to be used. This would have been a slow process with significant limitations to how much water could be drawn and carried in one trip to the well. Women were generally the ones to whom this responsibility fell.
Jesus meets the woman at the well when He is tired and thirsty. He approaches her for a drink and uses the encounter as an opportunity to connect with her on a deeper level. He does not overlook her as a means to an end. He reveals several extraordinary truths to her. He uses the water as a word picture to reveal eternal life. She experiences the day in, day out chore of gathering water. Jesus taps into this burden but is talking about other daily, internal burdens that we all bear. She does not immediately understand that He is not talking about water.
What is he talking about? What is living water springing up to eternal life? First, there is the idea of springing. It would be like the artesian well that produces its own water. It would free her from the difficult, daily task of collecting water. Second, it would be living water. It would not require daily gathering and drinking. One drink would satisfy thirst permanently.
What is the spiritual message? What thirst are you attempting to quench daily? Jesus came to bring eternal life. When we believe in Him, we are satisfied. He is the one who quenches the thirst in our spirit. He is the one who is the answer to all the inner struggles. How do we drink of this water? We believe in Him. We believe who He says He is, and we receive Him in the manner He sets forth. This is the spring of water welling up. It is available to all who are willing to receive.