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4 Things You May Not Know About Jesus’ Living Water

4 Things You May Not Know About Jesus’ Living Water

We hear in the Bible of Jesus claiming to have living water. Many of us think of the encounter of Christ with the sinful Samaritan woman. However, if we only glance at this scenario, we will miss the grander picture of what He was truly saying. If we look and see what the years of history were for the Jewish people, coming together in this amazing moment, it will cause us to be more in awe of the message that Jesus was teaching.

As I walked through the Museum of the Bible today, I noticed various plaques in The World of Jesus of Nazareth exhibit. There I came into a room with simply a small pool of water with stairs walking down into the depths. The plaque on the wall read, “Ritual Purity.” It explained that in the Jewish culture, purity was a constant care. Water was used for ritual cleansing. The people of God followed the Biblical laws of being cleansed after being in contact with defiled things. The plaque said, “To be ritually clean, Jews immersed themselves in a mikveh (immersion pool) filled with ‘living water’ from a natural source such as rain, rather than water drawn by human hands."

The beginning of John 4 is at the well of Jacob in Samaria. Jesus was sitting by the well at noon. After being in the hot summer sun today, I can only imagine the exhaustion and thirst that Jesus Himself felt waiting by the well. He asked the Samaritan woman to get him a drink. She replied that he was a Jew and she was a Samaritan woman. This indicated the question, how could a clean man take a drink from an unclean woman?

John 4:10-11 says, “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.’ ‘Sir,’ the woman said, ‘you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water?’”

She goes on to question Jesus. He replies that the water in that well would cause thirst again, but if she accepted the water that He would give, she would never thirst again (John 4:12-14). Jesus continued on to tell this woman about her multiple husbands and current living situation. She is awed and Jesus instructs the importance of worshiping in Spirit and in truth. When she asks if He is the Messiah, He says, “I am He” (John 4:15-26). The woman then leaves her water jar to go tell her entire town about Jesus. Afterwards, they all come to Jesus and He stays two days there teaching and revealing Himself as the Savior of the world (John 4:27-42).

John 4:42 says, “They said to the woman, ‘We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world.’”

What We Can Learn from This Text:

1. The Jewish People Were Supposed to Be Clean, Samaritans Were Unclean

The Jewish people were set apart and would physically clean themselves in regard to their sins. Only a set apart male high priest could approach God in the holy of holies once a year. Some of them even died in the holiness and glory of the presence of the Lord. It is said in Jewish tradition that the people would tie a rope around the priest’s waist in case he died, so they could pull his body out of the room.

Now, we see Jesus coming to meet a woman of adultery and impurity. Christ intentionally gave us an example of a dirty woman who needed cleansing. If you picture mud as sin and you stick a beautiful pure white t-shirt in the mud, the shirt doesn’t make the mud shirt-like, instead the mud makes the shirt muddy. Where the Jews were worried about becoming unclean by the dirty, the power of Jesus made the dirty clean. Only He can do that.

2. There Is a Special Significance That Jesus Used a Woman for This Example

Beth Wenger from the Jewish Women’s Archive shares, “Traditionally, men and women have used the mikveh for ritual purification, but it has always held special significance for Jewish women. Jewish law prescribes that women immerse themselves in the waters of the mikveh following their menstrual periods or after childbirth in order to become ritually pure and permitted to resume sexual activity.”

When Jesus answers the Samaritan woman’s disqualifying statement about her heritage, He responds with “woman” in John 4:21. The Strong’s Greek Concordance shares that the Greek word is yuvai meaning, “A woman, wife, my lady. Probably from the base of ginomai; a woman; specially, a wife.” I find this a stunning statement that for a woman who would need to bathe in a mikveh continuously on behalf of her many affairs and unfaithfulness to be called a wife by the Savior. She saw herself as an adulterer, but the moment she accepted Jesus, she would become a part of His permanent bride forever. She would no longer become known by her sins, but by the seal of her Savior.

This reminds us again that in a world that many times devalued people like women and Gentiles, Jesus showed love and compassion to them.

Photo credit: Unsplash/Sarah Dorweiler

3. Our Best Efforts for Water Leak Out of Broken Cisterns

Jeremiah 2:13 says, “My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water.”

When we realize that we are thirsty for wholeness, our greatest efforts leak out like the best water because of our brokenness and sin. Whenever we try to make our own ways to Heaven or rely on ourselves and not the Lord, we build fractured jars.

The Samaritan woman, in her shame, brought her jar in the heat of the day to try to hide her brokenness from others, but Jesus was waiting right there with her in her mess. He met her and gave her something greater. Maybe you too are dealing with brokenness that you want to “go get water at noon so no one sees you.” But Jesus is right there with you. Shame can be removed from you and you can be reminded that just as Christ cleansed this dirty person from her sin, He can do the same for you. He chose the outcast and showed His glory through it.

4. When You Truly Encounter Jesus, You Will Be Changed

Jesus is the source of transformation. When the Holy Spirit comes into your life, you will begin to look more like Christ. The Samaritan woman did not get to ignore her sinful ways; Jesus lovingly confronted them. She chose to use her past as a platform for the power of the Lord at work in her life. This woman could not make her past “right” at this point, but she could have a fresh start with her Savior.

I imagine that she was not perfect, but that she was forever changed and did her best to glorify God with the rest of her life.

At the end of the Bible, God shares a message about living water. Revelation 7:16-17 says, “Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat down on them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

It hit me so hard reading this, realizing that it says we will never thirst again. The sun will not beat down on us. Jesus, the Lamb will lead us to the springs of living water. He will wipe away every tear from our eyes. We are the “Samaritan Woman.” She was thirsty, she hiked through the burning hot sun, and met up with Jesus who led her to the living water. I do not know if she cried, but she may very well have cried tears over her shame. Just as she felt ashamed and was released from that, we can be free from condemnation as well. Our God loves us and leads us to the living water that only He can give.

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Photo credit: ©Getty Images/FCerez

Emma DanzeyEmma Danzey’s mission in life stems from Ephesians 3:20-21, inspiring young women to embrace the extraordinary. One of her greatest joys is to journey with the Lord in His Scriptures. She is wife to Drew for over two years and mom to baby Graham. Drew and Emma serve with Upstate CRU college ministry in South Carolina. Emma is an avid writer for Salem Web Network and provides articles on the Bible, life questions, and on the Christian lifestyle. Her article on Interracial Marriage was the number 1 viewed article on Crosswalk for the year 2021. All the glory to the Lord! She had the joy of hosting Her Many Hats podcast where she explored the many roles that women play while serving One God. Most recently, Emma has released her first Bible Study Book, Wildflower: Blooming Through Singleness.

Emma enjoys singing/songwriting, fitness classes, trying new recipes, home makeover shows, and drinking tea! During her ministry career, Emma recorded two worship EP albums, founded and led Polished Conference Ministries, ran the Refined Magazine, and served in music education for early childhood. Emma also had the privilege of having been a national spokesperson for Mukti Mission based out of India. Mukti has been working to restore shattered lives in India for over 120 years. You can view her articles through her blog at and check out her Bible Study videos on Instagram @Emmadanzey.