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A Fountain of Life

“Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: but … the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life” (John 4:13,14).

The Need

To travel from Judea to Galilee, an orthodox Jew would cross the Jordan near Jericho and make his way up through Perea, and then cross back near the Sea of Galilee in the north, just to avoid the Samaritans, whom they despised. But the Lord Jesus Christ took the direct road because He was anxious to meet these poor Samaritan sinners so that He might reveal the truth to them. So He went until He came near the city of Sychar, and there by Jacob’s well He stopped. There sat the Lord, waiting to meet a thirsty soul.

We are told, “There cometh a woman of Samaria to draw water” (v. 7). She knew that He was a Jew by the ribbon of blue that went around the border of His robe. At once all her being would be stirred with indignation. What business did He have sitting there on their well? But how surprised she must have been when He looked up very kindly and said, “Give me to drink” (v. 7). She knew that the ordinary Jew would have dashed the cup to the ground even if she had offered it, and here was a Jew asking drink of her. She said, “How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me?” (v. 9).

The Gift

Note the answer of our blessed Lord: “If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give Me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of Him, and He would have given thee living water” (v. 10). What a wonderful revelation concerning the gift of God! Do you know the gift of God? Do you know that salvation—eternal life—is a gift? It is so hard for people to understand that, and so they have devised all kinds of ways whereby they hope to earn salvation and a place in God’s heaven. But you cannot do anything to earn God’s salvation. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: not of works, lest any man should boast” (Eph. 2:8-9). Have you come to Him and received His gift?

The Giver

Notice also the other word, “and who it is that saith to thee, Give Me to drink.” How little she recognized who He was. Who was He? The Son of God. We read, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…. The Word [became] flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth” (John 1:1,14). There He was, God and Man in one blessed, glorious person, but she did not understand that.

She looked at Him doubtfully and said, “Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water?” (v. 11). She was thinking only of natural water. He was thinking of spiritual water. The water that He would give was to be drawn from the depths of God’s love itself. Jesus answered and said, “Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again” (v. 13). How well she knew that! Had she not time after time attempted to quench her thirst from that well, only to thirst again? And you may try everything that the world can give, but you will still be unsatisfied. The things of the world cannot satisfy a heart that has been created for eternity.

A Fountain of Life

“The water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life” (v. 14). What does He mean by that? Those who receive the message of His grace, who believe the revelation that God has given of Christ in His Word, will be born anew. This fountain of living water will spring up within, and they will find a satisfaction that none have ever been able to find in the things of earth.

The woman, listening, finds her heart going to Christ. The Lord Jesus Christ has won her confidence, and this is a great thing. But there is something else needed, so the Lord undertakes to grapple with her conscience. He says, “Go, call thy husband, and come hither” (v. 16). I can imagine she dropped her head, and blushed as she said, “I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband: for thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband” (vv. 17-18). He drives the truth of her guilty past and sinful present home to her soul. She stands there, greatly moved, and for a moment does not know what to say.

She blurts out, “Our fathers worshipped in this mountain [Mt. Gerizim]; and ye say, that in Jerusalem is the place where men ought to worship” (v. 20). I do not suppose that this age-long difference meant much to her, but now she sees she is a sinner and wants to get right with God. Where shall she go? She wants to know God that she may worship Him and receive forgiveness from Him. And Jesus said, “The hour cometh, when ye shall neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, worship the Father…. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship Him” (vv. 21-23).

What did He mean? He was declaring that the hour had come when God is putting aside all earthly sanctuaries. Coming to God is not a question of going to a particular place. You can meet with Him anywhere and everywhere if you are ready to take your right place before Him, to confess your sin and own your guilt. Then you can lift your heart to Him in worship, recognizing Him as your Father, for the moment you confess your sins He forgives.

“If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved” (Romans 10:9).

—From Addresses on the Gospel of John by H.A. Ironside.

The heart of man hungers and thirsts, and he must search until he finds something to satisfy. If in this life he only drinks from waters of which “he that drinks shall thirst again,” eternity shall find him thirsting still, and crying for one drop of water to cool his tongue.—F.C. Jennings