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John 4:10 -15, the Woman at the Well, What is the Gift of God?

Updated on June 3, 2014

John 4: 10 - 15

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? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his flocks and herds?" Jesus answered, "Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life." 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."


From my view here in John chapter 4, I can see Jesus as he carries on his conversation with a woman at Jacob’s well. I can tell she is still somewhat reluctant to enter into a conversation with this man she doesn’t know, but she can’t help herself. Her curiosity has gotten the better of her. She looks puzzled and I wonder if she thinks he is speaking to her in riddles. His words are certainly intriguing, even if she doesn’t know what he is talking about. “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.” He seems to imply that she should know who he is. Unfortunately, her ancestors have mixed their own ideas with what they were taught by the Jewish priests. As a result, she really isn’t sure what the truth is. While many Jews who were familiar with the scriptures may have recognized the phrase “the gift of God” as an expression of everything they needed for salvation, she probably doesn’t know what he is talking about. The significance of who he really is seems lost on her.


I imagine myself in this woman’s shoes. Here is a man, obviously tired and thirsty from his journey, at my mercy. He has nothing with him to get any water out of the well, so he needs to ask for my help. It seems simple enough; until he mentions a gift I should know about and offers me living water. Living water was the common term for a stream or source of flowing water. If he knows where such water is, then why does he need to ask me for anything? Is the gift of God the living water? Perhaps he knows of a stream nearby. It is understandably confusing, and I can understand why she points out how ridiculous his statement is to her. “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his flocks and herds?”


She doesn’t realize that Jesus has changed the conversation on her. He is about to compare the spiritual truth of God’s gift of eternal life with the known reality of physical water. “Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” Wow, this would be impressive. She still ignores the shift in the conversation. The possibility of never having to perform this dreaded chore every day is too much to resist. If this man can do that for her, he truly is greater than her forefather Jacob! I can almost see him smile as she answers him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”


Think about your favorite body of water, or any water in general. What characteristics does it have? I think of the ocean. How it stirs my soul and refreshes me. I love how powerful it is, strong and sustaining. Water is necessary for life. It cleans, cools, and quenches our thirst. Without water, we wouldn’t survive. In the same way, Jesus fits these characteristics. He is powerful, strong, sustaining. His sacrifice cleanses me of my sins. His love stirs my soul and refreshes me. Because of him, I can have the relationship with God that he created me to have. My thirst to find something more in life, to make my life meaningful, is quenched and I am satisfied.


Sometimes it is hard to believe that this is a free gift. I wonder if I understand who Jesus really is. Do I believe that he is everything I need for my salvation? Jesus, and the salvation he brings, is a gift. I don’t need to earn it and I don’t need to pay it back. It can be tempting to fall into the trap of trying to earn God’s favor. But that is impossible and unnecessary. God loves us so much and wants to have a relationship with us. Jesus is the gift he gave us to make this possible. If we turn to him to have our needs filled, we will never be thirsty again. The empty spot inside us, the one that longs for something more will be satisfied.


The woman here at the well is interested. She wants this water but doesn’t understand what it is. She thinks of the work and exposure it will save her to accept Christ’s gift. But there is more to it than that. Jesus isn’t done with her yet, he is about to get personal. In order for her to accept the eternal life he is offering, her heart must be changed. She must repent, turning away from her old life in order to embrace the new one he is offering. This is where most people walk away. They want the benefits Jesus offers without having it affect their lives. They don’t want to change. Jesus doesn’t force us to follow him. It is our decision. Are you ready for him to get personal with you?



Please continue on to learn more about living water and how to fill the emptiness inside.

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