‘Where can you get this living water?’ John 4:11
This question was asked by the Samaritan woman at the well, when Jesus promised her living water. See the whole story in John 4:1-26, or read on to v42 for the outcome. We are back with our feet firmly on the ground, after yesterday’s outing into supernatural territory, and the woman completely misunderstands Jesus’ offer, thinking He needs to fetch the water He offers from the well too. It takes her a while, plus some God-given knowledge from Jesus (v18), to get her thinking on the right lines.
The ‘living water’ is, of course, a picture of the new life that He can offer her if she believes in Him. So this water must be more than just an intellectual assent to the fact that He is the Messiah (v25&26). Water is the basic essential for all life, and without it we all quickly die. The new life must therefore be something that is equally essential, equally life-giving, and equally able to quench a spiritual thirst to complete satisfaction. Is this your experience of new life in Jesus?
A little later in John’s Gospel (7:37-38), Jesus says, ‘Let anyone who is thirsty come to Me and drink. Whoever believes in Me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.’ Then verse 39 explains, ‘By this He meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were later to receive.’ There is clearly a link between His offer of living water and the Holy Spirit, who gives life and energy to our walk with God beyond that of simple intellectual understanding. And water is a fitting metaphor, not just because it gives life; it is pure (in its drinkable form!), it must flow in order not to stagnate, and it is powerful when channelled and released in quantity.
When John the Baptist introduced Jesus, he said that He would baptise with the Holy Spirit (and with fire – Matt 3:11). There has been much controversy over these terms in recent years, but regardless of our understanding of how these things happen, we all recognise that the Holy Spirit is a vital element in our walk with Jesus, and that Jesus is the Baptiser. You don’t need to know the various theological positions of different arms of the Church in order to know the leading of the Holy Spirit, and you can ask God for His good gift whenever you need to (Luke 11:11-13).