John 4:1-30
The Water That Leads To Eternal Life

Authored By Rev. Takao Kiyohiro, Tokyo, Japan

1. The Lord said to the Samaritan woman, "He who drinks this water will thirst again. But, he who drinks the water that I give will never thirst. The water that I give him becomes a spring within him, the water that leads to eternal life gushes forth," (John 4:13-14). Today this is the message that is given to us as well.

The One Who Drinks This Water Will Thirst Again

2. The Lord said, "Any one who drinks this water will thirst again." By "this water" he meant the water of the well that was right there. That is, it is the same water that we use every day. Every one knows that even though we drink this water we will get thirsty again. We know that dehydration will cause death. So a person must keep resupplying his or her fluids. The Samaritan woman to whom the Lord was directing his words had come to this well to draw water. The job of going out to fetch water was a hard one at that. But, she had to keep coming back to draw water. Because "Any one who drinks this water will thirst again."

3. In today's passage of scripture, the text states that this was "Jacob's Well." We see that they had a tradition there that was related to their ancestor Jacob. This well was a special holy well associated with their forefather in the faith, Jacob. It could be that she had been coming from so far away deliberately to draw water from this special well. But even though it was such a special well and she considered it to be special water, this water was no different from any other water in this world. Since it was water from this old world she would thirst again. "Any one who drinks this water will thirst again."

4. In addition, the thirst which a person experiences, we know, is not just a physical thirst alone. For the last few years we have come to hear over and over about "healing."  "Healing merchandise" is sold, "healing music" is heard.  Or we've heard talk of "stage healers."  Just as there is a physical thirst, there is a spiritual thirst in people.  As we go through our daily lives in this old world, our hearts often times fall wounded and fall apart, we dry up and become rough and tough.  With hearts like that many people feel a need for something to heal their hurts or quench their thirsts.  But, such a person will be thirsty again even if whatever healing it may be is a special one to them like the well water of Jacob. That's true, too.

5. This Samaritan woman came to the well to draw water when it was the hottest part of the day and not in the morning or evening as most people did.  Was she avoiding the people's stares?  We're told she had had five husbands.  Then Jesus hit the nail right on the head that the one she was now living with was not her husband.  I'd say she had lost none of those five husbands by death.  For some reason or another her marriages kept failing and falling apart. We're not sure what problems they had. But, it was a fact that this person had repeatedly married.  When a person marries, he or she at the least has some kind of expectation and hopes. But, her expectations were never met. She kept experiencing it over and over, looking for her expectations, having them met, but thirsting again.

6. I suppose people getting married five times like this lady did is rare. But, in some sense haven't we all done something similar? We seek, we're satisfied, but thirst again. We do it over and over. Or, when we're thirsty with the water of Jacob's well, then we might look for water at Isaac's well.  And so the objects, in which we have our expectations, change from one to another. So the Lord says, "Any one who drinks this water will thirst again."

The Person Who Drinks The Water That I Give Will Not Be Thirsty

7. Then the Lord continued speaking as follows, "But, he who drinks the water that I give him will never be thirsty."

8. What is this water that Jesus gives? It is described in verse ten as "the living water." This expression of "living water" was commonly used among the Jews. It is not water that is stored up, but a flowing water. It is water gushing from a spring or flowing in a brook.  So, this Samaritan woman asked, "Where will you get this living water for me?," (verse eleven). Of course, the Lord was not talking about this kind of flowing water. He was speaking of the water that truly has life, the water that brings life.  As it says in verse fourteen, he was speaking of "the water that leads to eternal life."

9. Problems come with "life." The Lord was not directing his concern to mere physical thirst. Nor was he directing it to even a spiritual thirst as I just touched upon earlier. That was still superficial. The Lord is taking issue with the drying up of life at its most fundamental level.  This woman's misfortunes did not lie in her having to toil in drawing water at the heat of the noon day.  It did not lie in her getting married and getting divorced over and over again.  Jesus saw that it lied in her life running dry. So, he spoke on the living water.

10. What does it mean for a life to run dry?  The prophet Jeremiah once put it like this, "Truly, my people have done two evils. They threw me away as the source of their living water, and have dug out useless cisterns. They cannot hold water.  [They are] broken cisterns," (Jeremiah 2:13). In other words, a life run dry is when a person loses his or her vital relationship with God as the well spring of life. It is like throwing out your good source of running water and digging up a broken cistern for yourself. That was the problem the Israelites were having, and it was this Samaritan's problem, and it's the problem of the modern world also.

11. Precisely because this problem is so, [it] becomes all the more essential [who this] "I" is, where it says, "the water that I give." We give it all we got when it comes to this matter of "seeking for something."  Modern people are frantic in seeking for that "something." But, the main thing we really need is "to seek Someone." The Lord said to this Samaritan woman, "If you knew the gift of God and had known who he was who has said to you, 'Please give me water to drink,' you would have turned from yourself to him and he would have given you the living water," (verse ten).

12. For, the one who lifted his voice to her was Jesus. Jesus lowered himself and said to her, "Please give me water to drink." But, he himself, who had drawn near her in this humble way, was the One whom she was supposed to look for the living water. She just didn't see that.  In not knowing the gift of God, she just couldn't see who it was that was there before her.

13. Christ cares even more now for this world through the agency of the church as His body. He is drawing near to people and coming into their lives. Since Christ has drawn near in the way he has, all of us also are here to do the same. The One we are suppose to seek is near. That Samaritan woman sought him. She said, "Please give me that water," (verse fifteen). Of course, she didn't know for sure what she was looking for from him. But, she did it nonetheless.  Then from there on, the most important thing in her life started. The Lord said, "Whoever drinks the water that I give him will never thirst." Since that's the way it is, then what we are supposed to do is to ask of him to "Please give us that water."

The Water That I Give Will Be A Spring

14. Then, Jesus went on to say the following, "The water that I give will be a spring within that person and waters leading to eternal life will gush forth."

15. To receive the living water from Jesus means to recover our relationship with God, our source of the living water. We will truly become people with a tremendous water source of life.  When we are connected to the water source, we are no longer broken water cisterns. The source [would always] dry up in them. Jesus expressed this living source as "waters leading to eternal life will gush forth."

16. But, we need to think again about what it meant to Jesus, when he spoke of "the water that leads to eternal life." The Gospel According To John has given a lot of space to what the Lord has ultimately done for us in order to give us this water. It tells us that Jesus poured out his own life upon the cross.

17. This gospel alone gives this next text and with a purpose. It is the events immediately after Jesus died. "When they came to Jesus, since he was already dead, his feet were not broken. However, one of the soldiers thrust his spear into Jesus' side. When he did that, immediately blood and water flowed out. A man who eye-witnessed this is testifying and his testimony is true. He knows he is speaking the truth himself so that he will cause you to believe as well," (19:33-35).

18. Why has such a thing like this been written? It's because it is a symbolical event that eloquently speaks the truth far above any thing else. The water flowed out with the blood. It wasn't only water. It was with the blood.  Unless blood is shed there isn't water. What is blood? Blood stands for the redemption of sin. It is the forgiveness of sin. Without the blood of Jesus there is no restoration of relationship with God. Without the blood of Jesus there is no eternal life either. The water that leads to eternal life comes with the blood. The person who receives redemption of sin through the blood of Jesus also receives the living water.

19. Also, the living water given by Jesus is not just stored up within a person [like some cistern water]. According to the way Jesus put it as "it becomes a well spring within him," the water gushes out and flows on and on. A spring can transform a desert into an oasis. When the spring of life in a person gushes forth, that spring can transform any world that has lost its vitality. A person's very being will change one's home, it'll change one's school, it'll change one's work place, it'll change society.

20. One theologian said, "Jesus did not bring one of the new religions into this world, but brought new life in." Proclamation is but to spread this life. It is to cause this overflowing of the living waters. A person trying with all his or her might to draw water from a dry well to give you will only splatter mud everywhere around you. The important thing to do is to receive the living water from Jesus. We are to seek it from Him. We are to live in an abundant relationship with God and let his water of life flow to overflowing. "The water that I give him becomes a spring within him, the water that leads to eternal life gushes forth." Amen.

Home | Translations | Both J-E | Chapel | Email