John 4:13-14This passage has always been confusing to me. I've never quite understood exactly what Jesus was talking about: why he jumps from topic to topic without directly answering the Samaritan woman's questions and what he meant by saying that anyone who accepted the living water he offers would never have to drink normal water again.
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.”
Last night in our family quiet time we read J. C. Ryle's commentary on this passage, and he made a comment that made it a whole lot clearer. Take a look:
Thousands of men have every temporal good thing that heart could wish, and are yet weary and dissatisfied. It is now as it was in David's time--"There be many that say, Who will show us any good." (Psalm 4:6.) Riches, and rank, and place, and power, and learning, and amusements, are utterly unable to fill the soul. He that only drinks of these waters is sure to thirst again. Every Ahab finds a Naboth's vineyard near by his palace, and every Haman sees a Mordecai at the gate. There is no heart satisfaction in this world, until we believe on Christ. Jesus alone can fill up the empty places of our inward man. Jesus alone can give solid, lasting, enduring happiness. The peace that He imparts is a fountain, which, once set flowing within the soul, flows on to all eternity. Its waters may have their ebbing seasons; but they are living waters, and they shall never be completely dried.What Jesus is saying in this passage is that he can offer the woman, and us, something that the world can never give. Before we put our faith in Jesus we are continually chasing after satisfaction. We keep seeking what we think will make us happy, but in reality none of it lasts. We might feel accepted and loved for a short time, or content with our vast wealth for a moment, but it quickly flies away and we cannot grasp it or keep it close. Soon enough we go out in search of more, we need another fix, another drink. We truly are slaves of sin!
But what Jesus is saying is that he can offer true satisfaction and freedom from the endless cycle we are trapped in. Jesus alone can offer true satisfaction, and it comes through faith in him. At the fall (Genesis 3), the human race as a whole rejected God. Consequently they became sinners and lost their perfect relationship with him. We are exactly the same - we have sinned and we have lost our ability to fulfil our purpose: to glorify God and enjoy him forever. We are lost in a depraved cycle of trying to please ourselves, yet we can never truly be content - we are guilty and broken, slaves of sin and entirely corrupted by it.
That's why Jesus goes on to mention her husband, and then proves he is the Messiah by saying “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.” She was searching for satisfaction in her relationships, yet could not find it because they are all broken by sin (we see that everywhere in the world now as well). What Jesus was offering her was far better then anything on this earth - it was forgiveness from sins and the promise of eternal contentment in God's presence, worshipping him in heaven for ever after death.
What do you search for your satisfaction in? If you're honest with yourself, unless it is Jesus, it never has and never can truly satisfy you. (Tell me if I'm wrong in that).
Through Jesus there is forgiveness and grace, a restoration of that relationship we had with God. Consequently we can return to some extent to that perfect satisfaction that Adam and Eve would have had in the garden: the contentment that is one of our basic desires as humans. Of course, while we are still on this earth it is still marred by sin and we are still flawed, but we look forward to when it will be complete in heaven.
I think that's what Jesus is talking about. As it is we continually need to come back to the things of this world to be 're-satisfied', but then we get thirsty again, and need to drink again. And again. And again. And again. And again, until our lives are gone. Jesus offers the drink that we only need to take once. He offers salvation to us, as the ultimate sacrifice, and when we put our faith in him we don't have to keep coming back for more. There is complete forgiveness in Jesus for everyone who truly puts their faith in him and repents. We don't need to continually be forgiven every time we sin - we don't need another sacrifice. That "Spring of water" - that salvation - doesn't just go away. Instead it "will become in [us] a spring of water welling up to eternal life" - it will continue and grow as we live for God in this life, and it will come to completion in heaven when we will be truly holy, truly satisfied in God alone and with him for all eternity.
In short the living water Jesus is talking about is salvation: his death and resurrection for us so that we can be forgiven. And it grows and becomes more and more satisfying as we continue to trust and obey him in our lives, both of which help us glorify and adore God for who he is and all he has done. That's where true satisfaction comes from: from fulfilling our purpose and both glorifying and enjoying God.
Here's another quote from Ryle to finish up, and I think it fits in:
The infinite willingness of Christ to receive sinners is a golden truth, which ought to be treasured up in our hearts, and diligently impressed on others. The Lord Jesus is far more ready to hear than we are to pray, and far more ready to give favours than we are to ask them. All day long He stretches out His hands to the disobedient and gainsaying. He has thoughts of pity and compassion towards the vilest of sinners, even when they have no thoughts of Him. He stands waiting to bestow mercy and grace on the worst and most unworthy, if they will only cry to Him. He will never draw back from that well known promise, "Ask and you shall receive--seek and you shall find." The lost will discover at the last day, that they had not, because they asked not.Do you have this living water? Have you asked for it? Put your faith in Jesus and give up your sin! He is always willing to forgive!
I hope those thoughts were encouraging and challenging for you!