“Whence hast Thou that Living Water?”
“Jesus answered and said unto her, 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. The woman saith unto him, Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water?” (John 4:10-11)
What a blessed gift – “Living Water!” What a wondrous Giver – The Lord Jesus Christ! What delightful terms – “Ask, and ye shall receive!” The text before us was inspired and written here, in the Book of God, specifically to teach us that the Lord Jesus Christ has all grace, salvation, and eternal life in himself, that he has it for sinners, to give away freely, and that he gives it to every sinner who asks him for it.
This is the doctrine of the gospel, the message of the Bible. If you trust the Lord Jesus Christ, if you ask him to give you this living water. He will fill you with his grace and put his Spirit in you, “a well of water, springing up into everlasting life.”
I fear that far too much preaching is designed to impress men, not to convert them. May God save us from such! When our Lord Jesus spoke to eternity bound sinners, he had no interest in impressing his hearers with his oratorical skills. His object was to convince immortal souls of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment. Therefore he spoke to the hearts of those who heard his voice, in plain, simple terms.
May God the Holy Spirit be our Teacher as we seek the answer the question this poor sinner put to the Son of God. – “Whence hast thou that living water?”
The Lord Jesus told this woman plainly that, if she had known the gift of God and who he is, she would have asked of him, and he would have given her living water. I fully realize that she did not know the full implication of what he had said; but she obviously understood that he was talking about something different from the waters that gathered in Jacob’s well. He was talking about water bubbling with life from a constantly renewed and renewing source, an artesian well of water. Therefore, she asked a very reasonable question. – She said, “Whence hast thou that living water?”
Living Water and God’s Salvation
Our Lord Jesus here uses the words “Living Water” to describe his gift of grace, salvation, and eternal life by the Holy Spirit. — In fact, this is the way God’s salvation is often described in the Word of God (Isaiah 12:3; Zechariah 13:1; John 7:37-38; Revelation 21:6; 22:17). Here, our Lord uses the words “living water” to describe the whole work and gift of God’s grace in salvation. This comparison of his salvation to “living water” is very suggestive. “Water” is a most appropriate word to describe God’s salvation, the gift of God in Christ.
Water is a gift of God. It is something no man can create. If we have water, God must give it. So it is with God’s salvation (Romans 6:23; Ephesians 2:8).
Water is vital. This is not an optional, add on luxury. Water is indispensable to life. No one can survive without it. Without it we die. Again, the comparison is obvious. Without God’s grace, God’s salvation, God’s Spirit, we must forever perish under the wrath of God.
Water meets a universal need. Water is not the requirement of some men, but of all men. All the sons and daughters of Adam stand upon equal footing here. It matters not how rich or poor we are, how learned or illiterate, we must have water. It matters not whether we are male or female, black or white, water is something we all must have. It meets the needs of all men alike. So it is with God’s salvation. All who are without Christ are lost. All who have Christ are saved. All who are without Christ are without grace and without hope. All who have Christ have life.
Water comes down from heaven. It is not of the earth and earthly, but from heaven and heavenly. Again, this is true of God’s grace and salvation in Christ. — “Salvation is of the Lord!”
God’s salvation is well described by the word “water” because water, like salvation, is a gift that has multiple benefits. It cleanses the filthy. It cools the fevered brow. It quenches the thirsty. It refreshes the weary. And it satisfies the soul of a man.
Water is something of which we never tire. You may get tired of city water, with all its human corruptions. You may tire of yuppie, plastic-bottled water, with its stale, stagnancy. But I defy anyone to walk by a cool, mountain spring, gushing out of a hillside, on a hot summer day, without stopping for a drink. So, too, those who drink of this water will never tire of it. Chosen sinners never tire of electing love. Redeemed sinners never tire of blood atonement. Forgiven sinners never tire of Divine pardon. Saved sinners never tire of saving grace.
Water is sovereignly distributed. In some places, it is abundant. In other places, it is scarce. In some places, it comes seasonally. In other places, it seems to fall freely at all seasons. So it is with God’s salvation. In some places, God sends the dew of heaven occasionally. In some places, he opens the windows of heaven and rains grace every day! In some places, he sends not so much as a cloud.
This water, this “living water,” comes to sinners only from Christ. If you would have this water, you must get it from him. Let me make just two statements in this regard.
1st Grace, salvation, and eternal life are in Christ, only in Christ, and in Christ in infinite abundance (John 1:16-17; Colossians 1:19; 2:9-10; 1 Corinthians 1:30-31). Salvation is not in the church, but in Christ. Grace is not found in religious “sacraments,” but in Christ. God’s salvation is not found in religious ritualism, moral reformation, an emotional decision, or the religious sensationalism of this apostate, charismatic age. Salvation is in Christ. Grace is in Christ. Get Christ and you get everything. Miss Christ and you miss everything (John 1:16-17; Colossians 1:19; 2:9-10; 1 Corinthians 1:30-31).
A form of godliness will do you no good. You must have Christ! A religious experience, without Christ, is a damning experience. You must have Christ!
2nd Salvation is the gift of God! I gladly run the risk of appearing redundant. I repeat myself deliberately. How I want all who read these lines to see this! Salvation is God’s free gift to sinners in Christ. It cannot be bought by sacrifice. It cannot be earned by works. It cannot be given by someone else. It cannot be inherited from your relatives. It is the gift of God! — “Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift!”
Now, look at the question this woman asked. How is it that Christ alone has this gift? — “Whence then hast thou that living water?” How is it that Christ alone has grace, salvation, and eternal life in himself to give to needy sinners, and no one else and nothing else does?
It is true, salvation is the work of the triune God. The Father chose us. The Son redeemed us. The Holy Spirit converts us. But God the Father will not and cannot give us this living water without Christ. And God the Spirit will not and cannot give us this living water without Christ. How is it that Christ alone has this living water to give to poor, needy, thirsty sinners? — “Whence then hast thou that living water?”
He has it because he is the only fit person to have it. God could never come down to man. Man could never rise to God. If ever the two come together they must meet in a Mediator, a Daysman, who can lay hold of both God and man. That Daysman, that Mediator is the Lord Jesus Christ. Christ alone is the Mediator between God and men (Acts 4:12; 1 Timothy 2:5).
Did you ever notice how careful the writers of Holy Scripture were to refer to the Lord Jesus Christ, almost always, in the most reverent, worshipful terms? Seldom did any speak of him only by his earthly name, “Jesus.” He is often called by his title, “Christ,” and by the term, “the Lord.” But he is most commonly called, “the Lord Jesus Christ,” because all that he is is essential to our salvation by him (Galatians 6:14; 1 Corinthians 16:22).
He has all salvation in himself because he is “the Lord.” Who should have it, but “the Lord”? — “The salvation of the righteous is of the Lord!” Salvation is his to give because he is “Jesus,” who came into this world to save his people from their sins (Matthew 1:21). He has salvation in himself to give to sinners because he is “Christ,” the Christ of God. He is the Anointed One, sent from God to be our Savior.
On the day of his immersion in the river Jordan to fulfill all righteousness, the Spirit of God descended upon him in the form of a dove, and abode on him. God gave the Spirit to him, without measure. He was anointed with the oil of gladness above his fellows. This is exactly what he announced to the Jews in the temple, when he began his public ministry (Luke. 4:16-21).
He has this “living water” of salvation, grace, and eternal life to give to sinners because he is the Lord Jesus Christ.
He also has this “living water” by divine purpose. The Lord Jesus Christ is authorized of God to be our Savior. He came here by Divine appointment, to bestow upon needy sinners all the blessings of grace, given to us in him before the world began (Romans 3:24-26; 1 Peter 1:18-20).
Christ has this “living water” in himself to give to sinners because he obtained it by his blood. He earned it by his obedience to his Father’s will as our Mediator, Representative, Surety, and Substitute. And he bought it with his blood. This is the reward which his Father promised him and gave him, as the result of his accomplishments as our Mediator (John 17:2; 19:30; Hebrews 9:12; Isaiah 53:10-12).
Look up yonder, there upon the throne of God sits that Man who died in the place of sinners more than two thousand years ago. He ascended up on high and received gifts for men, yea, for the rebellious also; that the Lord God might dwell among men!
The Lord Jesus Christ has this “living water” in himself to give to us poor sinners because of who he is, because his Father purposed it, because of what he did to obtain it; and the Lord Jesus Christ has grace, salvation, eternal life, “living water” for poor, needy sinners because of his intercession in heaven as the sinners’ Advocate and great High Priest (Hebrews 7:25-27; 1 John 2:1-2).
Ask and Receive
This living water is yours for the asking! — “Ask, and you shall receive.” Is that not what our Lord told this Samaritan woman? — “Jesus answered and said unto her, 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).
He does not have grace, salvation, eternal life, peace, pardon, atonement, forgiveness, and righteousness for himself. He needs none of these things. He has grace, in all its fulness, that he may give it away!
Christ has living water, the living water of salvation and grace, for thirsty sinners. He has this living water in an inexhaustible fulness. He promises to give it to all who ask him for it. He needs nothing from you – not even your water pot! Come, O poor, needy sinner, come — Come, O my soul, come – Come, O my brother — Come, O my sister, come to the Fountain and drink! — “And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely” (Revelation 22:17).
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