(John 4:13-14 ESV) 13 Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
Jesus promises that his “Living Water” will quench thirst forever. It’s not a drink that refreshes for an hour. It’s like having a “spring of water” within so that you never thirst again.
This is an amazing promise. He’s plainly speaking of the Spirit, and he says that those who receive the Spirit receive it but once — and once is enough. You receive the Spirit and you keep it until Jesus returns.
There are those who teach that we gain and lose our salvation on a regular, recurring basis. When we sin, they say, we become instantly damned, only to be saved again when we repent, confess, and ask forgiveness. We flit back and forth between lost and saved hour by hour — constantly thirsty, and never truly quenched. Jesus disagrees.
Remember that all who have the Spirit are saved — which would be obvious to any First Century Jew — but is made explicit by Paul –
(Rom 8:11 ESV) 11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.
If we “never thirst again,” then we never are lost again. Or else, if we’re lost, we no longer desire salvation because we’ve become so hardened, so rebellious, that we no longer desire salvation. For the Christian, there is no longing for salvation — unless the Christian is under the influence of false teachers. Jesus said so, and so it must be true.
Why no longing? Because you don’t long for what you already have.
(Rom 8:1 ESV) There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
Jesus is not teaching “once saved, always saved” or even the perseverance of the saints. He’s teaching that, in the normal case, those who been saved remained saved until they die or Jesus returns. They never thirst again.
But he’ll explain later in the book, as is taught plainly in Hebrews, that you can fall away.
(Heb 10:26-31 ESV) 26 For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. 28 Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. 29 How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
But we fall away by rebellion, by deliberately continuing to sin — not merely continuing to sin (we all do that) and not merely committing the occasional intentional sin (we’ve all done that). No, it’s the heart of rebellion that damns — and destroys our thirst for the Spirit.
The result, Jesus says, of having the Spirit within us, is not only that we never thirst again, but that the Spirit “wells up to eternal life.”
“There’s a Fountain Free.”
“There’s a Fountain Filled with Blood.”
(John 4:15 ESV) 15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water, so that I will not be thirsty or have to come here to draw water.”
The woman continues to be all-too-literal. She refuses to hear the metaphor. Why? Is she mocking Jesus?
Some people are just like that. They have no poetry in their souls, and so they struggle to understand metaphor and poem. Many are quite religious, but they see no point in God so often speaking to us through poetry and figures of speech. They have under-developed imaginations.
Or maybe, having never read the Prophets or the Psalms, she was simply uneducated in this kind of language. (Although, all cultures at all times use figures of speech. It’s an innate feature of our humanity, doubtlessly part of God’s image impressed on us.)
Or maybe she was being sarcastic to get Jesus to speak more plainly. I know some women who are like that.
(John 4:16-19 ESV) 16 Jesus said to her, “Go, call your husband, and come here.” 17 The woman answered him, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You are right in saying, ‘I have no husband’; 18 for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband. What you have said is true.” 19 The woman said to him, “Sir, I perceive that you are a prophet.
This is truly hilarious. Jesus does a miracle. He just met her and yet he knows details about her life she likely wishes no one knew! But her reaction is not one of shame or embarrassment. Rather, she changes the subject: “I perceive that you are a prophet.” She wants to talk about Jesus’ powers, not her past life.
She is one tough lady. She goes to the well by herself in the heat of the day, and when her deepest secrets are revealed, she looks Jesus in the eye and changes the subject!