There is a “well of water springing up into everlasting life.” It is a well of cleansing grace: “Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money, come ye” (Isa. 55:1). It is that which gives life to your soul: “Incline your ear, and come unto me; hear, and your soul shall live” (Isa. 55:3). Christ Jesus confirms the efficacy of Holy Scripture as He speaks of the rivers of living water: “If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water” (John 7:37–38). The inspired Word of God defines this living water as that of the Spirit of God: “this spake he of the Spirit which they that believe on him should receive” (7:39).
Isaiah spoke of that new life that the Messiah would bring. Acknowledging that we are guilty of transgression of the Law of God, deserving the punishment of our God, we hear the redemptive voice of the Lord, saying, “Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily; and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the Lord shall be thy reward” (Is. 58:8). What is revealed to Isaiah is the Messiah, He who would be spoken of as the Light that shines in darkness. For “In him was life; and the life was the light of men” (John 1:4–5). Health, or restoration, springs forth for those who have been justified by faith in Christ. The “righteousness” that belongs to God’s people portrays the act of the Lord, which has brought about restoration and reconciliation. We understand that to be justified by faith alone is to have an imputed righteousness that reveals the glory of our Savior. Calvin wrote that “ ‘All shall acknowledge thee to be holy and righteous, though formerly thou wast guilty and convicted. So shalt thou also be adorned with the glory of the Lord, though formerly thou wast loaded with reproaches.’ For we are reproached and disgraced, while we suffer the punishment of our sins.”
Jesus came to Jacob’s well, near a city of Samaria. Jesus was thirsty as any true human, but would satisfy the thirst of a soul, which only God could supply. While at the well, a woman of Samaria comes to draw water. Jesus asks of her, “Give me to drink.” She knew that it was said that the “Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans.” Calvin explains the situation in words that admonish us to be careful in our relationship with others that “This disease of human nature is so general, that every person wishes that his vices should please others. If any man disapproves of us, or any thing that we do or say, we are immediately offended without any good reason. Let any man examine himself, and he will find this seed of pride in his mind, until it has been eradicated by the Spirit of God.”
The Samaritan woman questions, therefore, why a Jew would ask her help. Jesus’ answer reveals the grace of the Lord, which would break whatever boundary man would place between each other, saying, “If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.” Here is that word ‘living’ again. By this word we understand that Christ is speaking about the ‘breath of life,’ of the soul which is alive. The same word is used of the resurrected Christ; “And when they found not his body, they came, saying, that they had also seen a vision of angels, which said that he was alive” (Luke 24:23). Paul, knowing that Christ was raised from the dead, that “he died unto sins once; but that he liveth, liveth unto God”; directs our thoughts that we may “reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom. 6:10–11).
If we are offended by those who believe differently, or those who turn away from the witness of the Gospel, then we hinder our testimony to the grace of God in Christ Jesus. Christ came to save those who sinned against Him, transgressing the law of God. Out of every nation, tribe, and tongue, Christ is drawing His people, for whom He shed His blood, to the Father. The message is the same today: “If you knew the gift of God, you would ask Him to give you a drink, and He would have given you living water!” We testify to the living water, the life-giving water, the Holy Spirit, which flows freely from a living fountain. The risen Lord testifies: “I am the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely” (Rev. 21:6).
The Samaritan woman shows her confusion when she speaks to Jesus, saying, “Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep; from whence then hast thou that living water?” She uses the term, ‘sir,’ which indicates an understanding of authority. Can this man really provide what he has promised? Are you, says the woman, “greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well?” Jesus answers, not the implications of her questions, but the need of her soul: “Whosoever drinketh of this water shall thirst again: But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.”
The Holy Spirit works in the heart of this woman. Christ speaks, not teasing her with words that are not efficacious, but with words that will open the soul to the truth of redeeming love. We look at the outward appearance, many times hoping to see some kind of fruit that will help us see that the one to whom we are witnessing is making a valid confession of sin, repentance, and faith. However, we must also pray that we might see, with hearts of faith, that which the Holy Spirit is doing in the hearts of those whose ears have been opened to the Word of Christ. We must see from a heart that it knows the redeeming love of Christ and the work of the Spirit welling up in our souls, “springing up into everlasting life.”
Calvin teaches us: “The grace of Christ, therefore, does not flow to us for a short time, but overflows into a blessed immortality; for it does not cease to flow until the incorruptible life that it commences be brought to perfection.” The work of the Spirit has given new birth to this woman. She is now able to cry out, “Sir, give me this water, that I thirst not, neither come hither to draw.” A new beginning of a new understanding of the grace of God in Christ Jesus! The breath of life has entered her soul. Her soul is restored to fellowship with her Father in heaven. By grace she has been saved, through faith, not by the water that man draws from a well, but by faith in Christ alone.
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