[New to our exegesis of John’s Gospel? Try starting at The Beginning — see top menu for John 1:1-2].
7 When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” 8 (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)
9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)
10 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.”
11 “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? 12 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?”
13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 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.”
15 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.”
7 Ἔρχεται γυνὴ ἐκ τῆς Σαμαρείας ἀντλῆσαι ὕδωρ. λέγει αὐτῇ ὁ Ἰησοῦς· Δός μοι πεῖν· 8 οἱ γὰρ μαθηταὶ αὐτοῦ ἀπεληλύθεισαν εἰς τὴν πόλιν, ἵνα τροφὰς ἀγοράσωσιν. 9 λέγει οὖν αὐτῷ ἡ γυνὴ ἡ Σαμαρῖτις· Πῶς σὺ Ἰουδαῖος ὢν παρ’ ἐμοῦ πεῖν αἰτεῖς γυναικὸς Σαμαρίτιδος οὔσης; οὐ γὰρ συγχρῶνται Ἰουδαῖοι Σαμαρίταις. 10 ἀπεκρίθη Ἰησοῦς καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῇ· Εἰ ᾔδεις τὴν δωρεὰν τοῦ θεοῦ καὶ τίς ἐστιν ὁ λέγων σοι· Δός μοι πεῖν, σὺ ἂν ᾔτησας αὐτὸν καὶ ἔδωκεν ἄν σοι ὕδωρ ζῶν. 11 λέγει αὐτῷ ἡ γυνή· Κύριε, οὔτε ἄντλημα ἔχεις καὶ τὸ φρέαρ ἐστὶν βαθύ· πόθεν οὖν ἔχεις τὸ ὕδωρ τὸ ζῶν; 12 μὴ σὺ μείζων εἶ τοῦ πατρὸς ἡμῶν Ἰακώβ, ὃς ἔδωκεν ἡμῖν τὸ φρέαρ καὶ αὐτὸς ἐξ αὐτοῦ ἔπιεν καὶ οἱ υἱοὶ αὐτοῦ καὶ τὰ θρέμματα αὐτοῦ; 13 ἀπεκρίθη Ἰησοῦς καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῇ· Πᾶς ὁ πίνων ἐκ τοῦ ὕδατος τούτου διψήσει πάλιν· 14 ὃς δ’ ἂν πίῃ ἐκ τοῦ ὕδατος οὗ ἐγὼ δώσω αὐτῷ, οὐ μὴ διψήσει εἰς τὸν αἰῶνα, ἀλλὰ τὸ ὕδωρ ὃ δώσω αὐτῷ γενήσεται ἐν αὐτῷ πηγὴ ὕδατος ἁλλομένου εἰς ζωὴν αἰώνιον. 15 λέγει πρὸς αὐτὸν ἡ γυνή· Κύριε, δός μοι τοῦτο τὸ ὕδωρ, ἵνα μὴ διψῶ μηδὲ διέρχωμαι ἐνθάδε ἀντλεῖν.
Living Water Not Hills (think Sound of Music)
Jesus’ disciples went off to buy food in the nearby village while Jesus sat at the well. Along came the Samaritan woman — his “appointment” as we mentioned earlier: the reason why he came. Do you ever feel like God made your path cross with a messenger or an incident meant to interrupt your life with the Divine?
Jesus asks her for water and she is in shock that he is even speaking to her as noted last week. Then Jesus says this strange thing: “If you knew the gift of God…”. There are a lot of words for “gift” in biblical Greek but the one used here is dorian (δωρεὰν). It carries the sense of unmerited gift, a free gift, one you couldn’t buy on your own and is undeserved.
Jesus then says that if she knew who he was then she would have asked him for Living Water.
Back to the dorian. Which is it? Is the gift the presence of the Messiah talking to her; the presence of the Lord of All by whose grace and unmerited love all of us would be saved? Or is the gift the Living Water? Or are they the same?
At first, I think she thought it was the Living Water, a water Jesus says quenches thirst once and for all. Her most immediate thought likely was, “With water like that, I won’t have to walk this Walk of Shame ever again!” We see once again a common theme in John’s Gospel: misunderstanding. Nicodemus thought Jesus literally meant “born again,” and the Samaritan Woman thought Jesus literally meant a water that quenches forever bodily thirst.
And, in this case, I side with the woman. I mean, I would have thought the same…at first.
But this Living Water, similar to the “water” in the Nicodemus narrative (born of Spirit and water) makes one a fountain of Living Water that wells up to eternal life (think less of eternal meaning a long time — quantity of time — and more life abundant, a quality of life).
So, what is Living Water? In the larger context of John 4 and the entire Gospel, and the Old Testament passages referenced in our discussion of Nicodemus, it would seem to be the Spirit of Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and the grace conferred.
When we drink of the Spirit of God, it not only quenches our thirst for meaning but becomes a well in us for others to experience the life-changing Spirit of God!
Now, I’ll drink to that!