Have you ever seen how a garden looks in a drought? Wilted stalks, lost flower buds, drooping leaves with dead edges, withered fruit. That’s what happens to our souls without spiritual hydration. We all looked like that before coming to faith in Christ. But even after rebirth, we need water every day. Jesus knew what it’s like to be thirsty (John 4:7; John 19:28)—and what it takes for us to flourish.
Illustration by Adam Cruft
John the Baptist has just told his followers, “[Jesus] must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30). Now, the Lord’s earthly ministry begins to expand. He leaves the area where John was baptizing and travels from place to place, preaching and healing.
At certain times, we’re comforted by Jesus’ divinity. At others, by His humanity.
The word soteriology refers to the study of how salvation works. For example, the divinity of Jesus is necessary for our redemption since only a perfect (sinless) sacrifice could pay for our sin. Also, because He was born under the law (Gal. 4:4-5)—fully human and like us in every way (Heb. 2:17)—we could be redeemed from that same law. The more we appreciate His full nature, the more our relationship deepens, and vice versa. Reread John 4:6-7 and focus on the Lord’s humanity. If He understands physical exhaustion, what about mental or emotional tiredness? Which problems have you resisted bringing Him because you think He won’t understand?
Reread verses 25-26. How does focusing on Jesus’ divinity affect you?
Jesus tells the woman at the well that He can give her “living water” (v. 10). Honestly consider the words “never be thirsty” (v. 14) with regard to your own life. Are you surprised to find, on reflection, that this is actually true?
The woman appears to misunderstand Christ’s offer at first (v. 15). To those who don’t know Jesus, the gospel and even the joy of Christians can be inexplicable. The good news is sometimes met with laughter or sarcasm—a sign of bitterness behind which lie deep pain and need. Ask God to help you in such situations to share, like Jesus, without becoming offended.
CONTINUING THE STORY
As the conversation goes on, the woman soon recognizes Jesus as the Christ.
The Lord says, “True worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth” (v. 23). What could it mean to worship in spirit? The Greek word pneuma can refer to breath as well as spirit. How does that add to your understanding of genuine worship?
The woman and the disciples (vv. 9, 27) first react to the conversation with confusion due to its impropriety. Throughout the Gospels, this was a common complaint against Jesus. What does His willingness to upend social norms say about His divinity? About His humanity?
Our Lord expresses having both physical and spiritual need (vv. 7, 32). Does this help you feel closer to Him? Why or why not?
Jesus invites us to drink deeply and regularly of spiritual nourishment.
Our Lord uses the very human—and universal—experiences of physical hunger and thirst to help people understand their spiritual hunger and thirst. But as the loving Christ, He also reveals what will satisfy these needs: Worship, obedience, compassion, and evangelism bring profound satisfaction.
Consider how this study applies to your life.
The concept of being spiritually filled is both simple and endlessly rich. In other words, the more we look into it, the more fulfillment—and delight!—we find. If the Lord Himself needed to seek out spiritual filling, we must as well, and for the duration of life. Thankfully, the answers are always available and reliable. In the John 4 passage about the woman at the well, Jesus is showing us how to make His solutions an integral part of our day-to-day life in Him. So let’s look more closely at what He’s teaching us.
The Lord first offers water that becomes in us “a fountain of water springing up to eternal life” (v. 14).
He then offers knowledge of the woman’s life without judgment (vv. 17-18).
Next, Jesus shares the importance of true spiritual worship (vv. 23-24). God doesn’t need our praise, but we need to give it! Worship, without request or demand, can be an immense relief to our burdened souls. Take a moment to joyfully “drink” in this way.
Finally, our Savior equates doing the Father’s will with spiritual nourishment (v. 34). Here, evangelism is in view, but there are infinite avenues for doing God’s will. Which one (or ones) do you feel pulling at your heart right now?
A well-watered plant will be healthy, lovely, and fruitful. Drinking salvation isn’t just for the moment you pass from this life to the next. Take God’s nourishment every day, and you’ll be both filled and fulfilled.