Living Water

Reflection on John 4: 1-26

The hostility between Judeans and Samaritans was several centuries old when Jesus, a Jew, met a Samaritan woman at Jacob's Well. It was mid-day – not a good time for water-carrying. Women went to the well together, in early morning or evening. Did this woman go at noon to avoid the unkindness of other women who despised her lifestyle?

How did she feel when the Jewish man sitting at the well spoke to her?  A good male Jew might speak alone with a close female relative in public, but to do so with a female stranger, it might be assumed he was making a sexual proposition. When Jesus said “give me a drink.” he was inviting the woman to take the risk he was taking, of crossing religious, political and cultural boundaries and taboos.

He was thirsty. She had a bucket. Jesus didn’t comment on her need, only his need for water. By reaching out to her from his need, Jesus gave her dignity. She could do something for him. And so her real thirst was revealed, one that couldn’t be quenched by Jacob’s well. She craved the water of life. And Jesus gave it, even as he talked about her complicated relationships, with no condemnation. Jesus acceptance of her deeply affected her.

After her personal and theological discussion with Jesus, she hurried back to her village inviting others to come to meet him. Many believed because of her witness. What changed her could change the world. Think about it. She was despised by her village, which was despised by Judeans, because Babylonians once humiliated their ancestors. People keeping score and calculating revenge passed down suspicion and hatred from one generation to the next. Jesus set all that aside.

The living water Jesus gives is the life of God. Since God is Love, it is God’s love that in St Paul’s words
“has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us”. (Rom. 5:5)
By experiencing Christ in prayer we can receive the water of peace. By following him, we can drink the water of freedom. By serving him we can receive the water of joy. For the water God gives by his Spirit through Christ is salvation and life itself.

As I write this I'm reminded that today about 4000 children will die because of lack of safe drinking water or sanitation. This Lent, how about supporting one of the organisations that are trying to change that? Water Aid is one. Take a look at what they are doing and how you can help.

This post is the 2nd of a series of daily Lent reflections, based on Bible readings from the Common Worship Lectionary of the Church of England. This one is based on John 4: 1-26 


  1. I love the story of the Samaritan woman for the message of love it sends out and the relevancy to modern life where so many prejudices exist.

  2. I so agree 'Chelliah Laity'. Every time I read it I see more parallels with contemporary life. I think it can be particularly encouraging to women, but also to any who are victims of prejudice, or whose lives are in a mess, or who are thirsty for something deeper in a spiritual sense. Thinking about the humanness of Jesus, this encounter must have been a challenge to him, to which he responded with huge generosity, never mind how others criticised him for it.

  3. Living Water International is another great Christian mission organization working to provide clean drinking water in the Second and Third world.

  4. Thankyou Anonymous for providing the URL for Living Water International.


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