The Gospel for Christians

John 4:10 Living Water

Living water.  It sounds wonderful.  But what is it?  How can one get it?  These are the questions that the woman here in John 4 was faced with.  There is so much more to be said about this passage than what I will cover in this brief blog post, but let’s just take a few minutes to consider verse 10.

Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.”

Notice that the conditions that define whether or not a person receives living water are these:

1.  Knowing the gift of God

2. Knowing who Jesus is

which above two result in…

3. Asking Jesus for living water (which presupposes that one understands what it is)

From the context, it would appear that the “gift of God” is the living water.  So knowing the gift of God would mean understanding what the living water represents and understanding that it is God’s gift to those who ask.

Unless we understand what God offers us, we will never ask for it.  This is the woman’s problem.  She doesn’t understand what Jesus is offering.  The reason people do not receive God’s salvation is because they do not understand/see what is being offered.

The second condition goes hand in glove with the first.  To know who Jesus is, is to understand that the gift of God comes through him.  It is to see that it is only through Jesus that we receive the gift of God.  People do not receive what God has for them because they do not see who Jesus is.    The reason that knowing who Jesus is is so important in receiving the gift of God will become clearer as I continue my analysis of the passage.

This brings us to the nature of the living water.  What is the living water?  One is not going to ask for it (rightly) unless he understands what it is.  The woman asks for it in v. 15, but it is clear that she is not in a position to receive it yet because she doesn’t know what it is.

There are several clues as to the nature of the living water.

1.  Whoever drinks of it will never be thirsty again.

2.  It becomes in the drinker a spring of water that wells up to eternal life.

3.  It is something that Jesus gives.

4. Jesus’ use of the same metaphor in John 7:37-39.

In addition to these, the second condition given in v. 10 is also a clue as to the nature of the living water: Knowing who Jesus is.  Why is it that knowing who Jesus is, leads a person to ask for and to receive the living water?  I think it is because Jesus himself is the living water.  This interpretation here in John 4 is supported by the way Jesus uses the same metaphor in John 7 where “drinking the water” is equated to “believing in Jesus”.

The living water cannot just be eternal life because eternal life is mentioned as the result of drinking the water.

So Jesus is the living water, and what he offers is himself.  The reason it wells up to eternal life is because there is life in Jesus himself.  He is life.    This also fits with the context of the passage in which Jesus challenges the woman as to his identity leading up to his statement in v. 26:  “I who speak to you am he.”  It also fits with the context of the entire gospel of John in which Jesus’ identity is the key theme.

To believe in Jesus is to be eternally satisfied (never be thirsty again) and to receive the eternal life that is in him.

Posted in Theology

Matthew 26:6-16

When the woman comes to Simon’s house in Bethany and anoints Jesus’ head with expensive ointment worth a very large sum, the disciples protest that it could have been sold and used for the poor.  Jesus, however, surprises them by commending the woman for her act of worship.  This does not mean that Jesus doesn’t care about the poor!  But it shows that Jesus himself is of supreme value.  He alone is worthy of worship and he commends the woman because she values him above the poor and above the money she spent on the expensive ointment.

Immediately following this short story is Judas’ agreement to betray Jesus for thirty pieces of silver.  The woman is showing that Jesus is more precious to her than her money, Judas is showing that money is more precious to him than Jesus.

  What do our actions say about what is most valuable in our lives? Is Jesus our treasure?


Posted in Theology

Exodus 32:11-14 God relents from judgment

Exodus 32:11–14 (ESV)

11 But Moses implored the Lord his God and said, “O Lord, why does your wrath burn hot against your people, whom you have brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? 12 Why should the Egyptians say, ‘With evil intent did he bring them out, to kill them in the mountains and to consume them from the face of the earth’? Turn from your burning anger and relent from this disaster against your people. 13 Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, your servants, to whom you swore by your own self, and said to them, ‘I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have promised I will give to your offspring, and they shall inherit it forever.’ ” 14 And the Lord relented from the disaster that he had spoken of bringing on his people.

This is a very important passage for understanding the way we come to God in prayer.  Moses is interceding for the people of Israel by *reminding* God of his covenant with the forefathers.  But God had not forgotten this covenant, nor did he need Moses to remind him.  Moses is not reprimanding God, but rather appealing to him on the basis of his word.

So when the Lord “relents from the disaster that he had spoken of bringing on his people” the result is exactly what God had intended all along.  He knew that he was not going to destroy them, and the gracious intervention of Moses is in accordance with God’s perfect plan.

However, in a way that I cannot fully explain, it is important to realize that God does not make idle threats.  His wrath against them was real and he could have consumed them were it not for Moses’ intercession.  God’s sovereignty is great enough and profound enough to include the apparent paradox between declaring his judgement against the Israelites, while knowing that he will use Moses’ intercession to save the people from that judgment.

In my mind, the only way to solve this apparent paradox is to look at the cross of Christ where God did BOTH.  He judged Israel’s substitute for sin AND through that judgment he saved them and fulfilled his covenant promises.  That act at the cross is the basis for God’s mercy here.  He relents from this disaster here, but he carries out his word of demonstrating his wrath against sin.

Back to my starting point, regarding prayer.  When we pray, we appeal to God’s word and ask him to do specific things that have a basis in his Word.   When God answers our prayers, it is not because we have “changed his mind” or convinced him of something, but rather because we have been his instruments in the playing out of his eternal purposes.  And yet these prayers are not just unnecessary props in God’s plan.  They are a very real intercession by which God applies the grace of Christ’s atonement to situations deserving of his judgment.

Posted in Theology
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