What does Jesus mean when he says he gives us living water? John’s Bible account offers us context. Jesus, talking to a Samaritan woman at the well, asks her for a little water to drink. She responds with surprise, as she did not expect a Jew to ask her for such a thing. This was because, back then, Jews did not usually associate with Samaritans.
In response, Jesus reveals the following:
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.”John 4:10
The Samaritan woman is initially confused. Naturally, she first assumes Jesus is offering her ‘magical’ physical water that never runs out.
However, Jesus clarifies:
Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”John 4:13-14
Why did Jesus call himself the ‘bread of life’? Find out here!
What does Jesus mean by the gift of Living Water? (John 4:10)
When Jesus speaks of living water, he refers to his giving of God’s Holy Spirit to all true believers of Christ. ‘Living water’ is not Jesus himself – although spiritual faith in him is needed to truly receive this life-giving blessing. Unlike ordinary water which only quenches our physical needs, God’s living water inside us satisfies our far greater spiritual thirst for Him. The Holy Spirit placed in us is also a deposit that assures our eternal belongingness to the Lord (Ephesians 1:13-14).
John 7:37-39 gives further clarity.
On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “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.” By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.John 7:37-39
With Jesus’ finished work on the cross, every new covenant believer who sincerely repents and declares Jesus as their Lord and Savior is, at God’s appointed time, given living water – that is, the indwelling of His Holy Spirit (see 1 John 5:1).
How Jesus’ life-giving promise relates to you.
Jesus invites all true seekers of God to “come to me and drink” His living water (John 7:37). Everyone is welcomed! And as we draw closer to Him, He will also draw closer to us (James 4:8).
Jesus opens his arms to each of us, offering us God’s living water. However, on our parts, this also means a sincere willingness to repent for our sins as we earnestly desire to step away from our old ways.
Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.Isaiah 55:6-7
Of course, as humans, we will stumble along the way. However, faith is a journey, and we must always be ready to turn to God, humbly seeking forgiveness and living by His heavenly guidance.
In short, drinking God’s living water also means surrendering our hearts to Him (Proverbs 23:26). This is far more important than any outward show of ‘religiosity’ that lacks spiritual sincerity.
Jesus also promises every true believer that “rivers of living water will flow from within them” (John 7:38) [emphasis added]
As followers of Christ, God’s Holy Spirit works within us in ways that can, in turn, flow out from us.
In other words, as we abide in Jesus and take delight in his ways, we also start to produce the fruit of the Holy Spirit that blossom outwards from within us.
The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, and self-control.Galatians 5:22-23
These loving qualities of thinking, acting, and relating with others gladden God’s heart. His living water thus flows from us in ways that, through our lives, help to glorify His kingdom for others to see and know.
In short, Jesus gives us living water – God’s Holy Spirit – that fully quenches our innermost thirst for our heavenly Father, also stirring us to produce good spiritual fruits. This life-giving power from God is far, far more satisfying than any fleshy desire that, by contrast, will never truly nourish our souls (Galatians 5:13-26).
And the best part? Jesus offers living water not only to the Samaritan woman at the well – but to all who choose to come to him. Yes, that includes you!