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Living Water

Christian, tell me why did Jesus say He was the source of "Living Water"? What is meant by that?

Because…Water is essential to life. Jesus is essential to SPIRITUAL life.

At one time in the past, my favorite hobby was running. All of the running coaches and guidebooks emphasize the importance of staying hydrated. They give a rule of thumb that, if you weigh yourself before and after a run, every pound lost is 8 ounces of water that needs to be replaced. After one long run on a hot day, I had already drunk a 16-ounce bottle of water plus a 32-ounce bottle of sports drink on the way home…and I was still three pounds low. That was a very sweaty run! 😅

The Value of Water

These days, I’m too lazy to run. But I still have trouble remembering to drink enough water. Dehydration is surprisingly common, and contributes to more health issues than we often realize. These range from fatigue, dizziness and difficulty concentrating … to problems with blood pressure and kidney stones … even to death if the dehydration is severe enough. 1

As part of my research for this post, I looked for articles explaining why water is so essential to life. I found several 2, listing benefits of water such as:

  • Transporting nutrients into cells
  • Transporting waste out of cells
  • Regulating body temperature
  • Acting as a shock absorber for the brain and spinal cord
  • Acting as a lubricant for joints

Living Water

I also searched the Bible for references to “living water” or “water of life”. I found passages like these:

I’d like to focus on one of the passages above, from John chapter 7. It was the Feast of Tabernacles, or Booths, instituted in Leviticus 23:33-43 as a way to celebrate both the harvest and also God’s care for the people during the Exodus. A part of the celebration was a Water Ceremony, where water from the pool of Siloam was poured over the altar. The ceremony brought to mind passages like Isaiah 12 (“Therefore you will joyously draw water from the springs of salvation“), Zechariah 14:1-9 (“And in that day living waters will flow out of Jerusalem“), and Ezekiel 47:1-12 (a vision where water flowing from the temple became a great river that nourished the land).

It was at this moment that Jesus chose to stand up and SHOUT:

If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, “From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.

John 7:37-38

That would have made a splash! 3

So, on to the questions: What is the living water that Jesus offers? How does it relate to normal water? What is the Bible teaching us?

What is the living water?

John gives an answer to the first question:

But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive…

John 7:39a (emphasis added)

At least in this passage, and I believe also in the others, the “water” in question is God’s Spirit. That Spirit is God Himself, the third Person of the Trinity. The Spirit is the means by which God’s blessings flow into the world. And, this same Spirit is given to believers, residing within them in person to provide God’s power in their lives.

How does it relate to normal water?

I’ll repeat the list of water’s benefits, and see how they could be compared to the Spirit’s gifts.

  • Transporting nutrients into cells =
    • Teaching God’s truths and providing the power to act on them
      • But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.” (John 14:26)
  • Transporting waste out of cells =
    • Convicting of sin and drawing us to repent and receive forgiveness
      • And He, when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment” (John 16:8)
  • Regulating body temperature; Acting as a shock absorber; and Acting as a lubricant =
    • Evening out life’s ups and downs
    • Providing peace and comfort no matter the circumstances
    • Allowing the believer to respond to events graciously
      • But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control….” (Galations 5:22)

What is the Bible teaching us?

We need God’s Spirit as much — no, actually much more — than we need physical water. Without enough of Him, we become spiritually fatigued and dry. That makes us unable to live the abundant life God intends, or to accomplish the work that He has placed before us.

As we continue to try without allowing the Spirit to work in us, we have even more “spiritual health” issues. We react to stress using only our own strength, with disappointment, discouragement, and disillusionment as the results. The dry-ness reaches arid desert levels.

And, if we don’t have the Spirit at all, the result is death: eternal separation from God.

Living Water, via Jesus

Coming to Jesus — believing in Him and accepting Him as Savior — is the way we receive the Spirit for ourselves. Jesus is the Source of that Living Water. Thanks to Him, and only Him, that Water can flow through our lives, starting right now and continuing throughout eternity.

Doesn’t that make you thirsty for Him?

Footnotes and Scripture References

  1. See articles here and here for more details about dehydration and its effects.
  2. Here are links to a few of them: The US Geological Survey, Mayo Clinic, Healthline, American Museum of Natural History.
  3. See this article for more on this incident from a Messianic Jewish website.

Unless otherwise noted, all scripture quotations are taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995, 2020 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Scripture reference links go to, which defaults to another good translation, the New International Version (NIV).  The site has 20 or more translations available for reference.