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.” “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.” 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.” John 4:10-15
Two ultra marathoners out in the Sierra Nevadas took a wrong turn and found themselves with no water in the middle of an inhospitable environment. Unsure where to go next, they looked for any water they could find and stumbled across a stagnant puddle of water. As they sat hoping for rescue they faced the unhappy choice of potential poisoning, or potential death.
Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan ‘woman at the well’ begins with an innocuous conversation about everyday water. He asks for water and she is confused, expressing surprise that a Jewish man would ask her for anything. His reply suggests to her that he may be more than what he seems on the surface and with no more proof she asks that he give her this water he has to offer. Suddenly the conversation is about spiritual water. A water that sustains the soul. While her reply suggests she still doesn’t quite understand (she expresses hope she won’t have to make the daily trek to the well for regular water!) something inside her now craves the fresh spiritual water that Jesus offers.
John 4:14 uses a greek word ‘pege’. John is not talking about a well so much as an artesian spring. Contrast that for a minute with the stagnant water our friends in the opening story encountered. Take a moment for inventory. Which image more closely represents your spiritual health? Are you quenching your spiritual thirst with things that aren’t healthy or allowing Jesus to transform your life into a spring? Just before drinking the stagnant water the two runners heard footsteps and a rescue party appeared around the corner. They carried fresh water with them. Jesus offers us the same.
By Alex Walton