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The Scriptorium

Life, or Not (Again)

The issue with Jesus remains the same.

The Gospel of John: John 4.1-15

Read and meditate on John 4.13-15.

The issue with this woman was the same as it was with Nicodemus: Life, or not? Jesus approached His message from a different starting-point with each, but one that was certain to keep the conversation going and launch it onto a higher plane.

                                       13 Yet
said Jesus to her, “Anyone who of
this water drinks will thirst again. 
14But of
the water I shall give, whoever drinks
of it shall never thirst, but it shall spring
up like a fountain in him, flowing to
eternal life.” 15The woman said, “Oh, do,
Sir, give this water to me that I may 
not thirst, nor come to draw here every day.”

- John 4.13-15

1.  Jesus flatly tells the woman that she will never not thirst if she keeps clinging to her current way of life. In what sense was this true? Complete the following brief prayer: Apart from You, Lord, people have no certain or lasting hope, only…

2.  In what sense did Jesus mean that those who drink His water “will never thirst”? What’s He talking about, and why is He right? Once I found You, Lord, I…

3.  How does the living water Jesus gives us become a “fountain of water” within us (cf. Jn. 7.37-39)? How should we experience this? How should we expect others to experience it from us? Lord, today, let Your living water…

4.  Jesus injected the idea of everlasting life as the result of the living water He gives. He seems to equate “everlasting life” with “will never thirst.” How is this an apt comparison? Thank You, for the living water, and the gift of everlasting life. Well up in me, Lord, so that…

5.  It’s clear from Jesus’ words that living water and everlasting life are not something to be merely enjoyed by whoever receives them. Rather, they should “become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.” What does this suggest about how we should share the Good News with someone? What should they expect if they receive God’s gift? Why is it important that we make this clear as we are offering the gift? Bring together into one prayer the prayers you composed from questions 1-4.

“Let us not overlook the fact that it is something spiritual that the Lord was promising. What does he mean when he says, ‘Whoever shall drink of this water shall thirst again’? It is true both for this water and what the water signified. Since the water in the well is the pleasure of the world in its dark depth: from this people draw it with the vessel of lusts. Stooping forward, they let down the lust to reach the pleasure fetched from the depth of the well, and they enjoy the pleasure and the preceding lust that they let down to fetch it. For he who has not dispatched his lust in advance cannot get to the pleasure. Consider lust, then, as the vessel and pleasure as the water from the depth of the well. When one has gotten into the pleasure of this world, whether it be food or drink, a bath, a show, an affair, is there any way he or she will not thirst again? Therefore, ‘whoever shall drink of this water,’ he said ‘will thirst again.’ But if he receives water from me, ‘he shall never thirst.’ ‘We shall be satisfied,’ it says, ‘with the good things of your house.’ Of what water, then, is [Jesus] to give except of which it is said, ‘With you is the fountain of life’? For how shall they thirst who ‘shall be drunk with the fatness of your house’?” Augustine (354-430 AD)

Jesus is still being rather vague with this woman. However, everything He mentions is getting her attention and provoking her curiosity. He points indirectly to the emptiness of her life (“will thirst again”), but He will get more direct in just a bit. The lesson here is that we need both to challenge people’s settled beliefs and convictions and to offer them something more appealing than what they’ve ever known. We can’t do this with a “canned” Gospel presentation. Why not?

Closing Prayer
Your mercy, O LORD, is in the heavens;
Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.
Your righteousness is like the great mountains;
Your judgments are a great deep;
O LORD, You preserve man and beast.
How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God!
Therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of Your wings.
They are abundantly satisfied with the fullness of Your house,
And You give them drink from the river of Your pleasures.
For with You is the fountain of life;
In Your light we see light.

Psalm 36.5-9

Psalm 36.5-9 (Landas: My Faith Has Found a Resting Place)
Your lovingkindness, Lord, is great, it reaches heav’n above;
Your faithfulness mounts to the skies, and keeps us in Your love.
Your righteousness like mountains high and judgment like the deep
Preserve Your creatures one and all and in Your mercy keep.

How precious is Your love, O Lord; we shelter in Your wings.
We drink refreshment to the full from Your abundant springs.
You give us freely of Your grace, we drink it with delight;
Life’s fountain is with You, O Lord, in Your light we see light.

T. M. Moore

Visit The Ailbe Seminary, where our course, One in Twelve: Introduction to Christian Worldview, can show you how Jesus is central to all aspects of life in the world – and beyond! Our course is free, and you can study at your own pace, watching videos and using the free materials provided.

We are happy to offer each week’s Scriptorium studies in a free weekly PDF, suitable for personal or group use. You can download all the studies in our series on the Gospel of John by clicking here. Please prayerfully consider sharing with The Fellowship of Ailbe through your giving. You can contribute to The Fellowship by clicking the Contribute button at the website or by sending your gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 19 Tyler Drive, Essex Junction, VT 05452.

Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. All psalms for singing adapted from The Ailbe Psalter. All quotations from Church Fathers from Ancient Christian Commentary Series IV a and b: John, edited by Joel C. Elowsky, General Editor Thomas C. Oden (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2006. Verse translation of John by T. M. Moore.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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