The Two Fountains
John 4:10
Jesus answered and said to her, If you knew the gift of God, and who it is that said to you, Give me to drink…


1. The contrasts in the life of Jesus are very striking.

(1) Even in physical things. He sleeps from weariness, but awakes to hush the storm; He is hungry, but dooms the fig-tree to perpetual barrenness.

(2) More so in spiritual things, as when, "crucified through weakness," He promised life to the malefactor.

2. The living water was not mere happiness, but the Holy Spirit, the Lord and Giver of Life. There is in man a thirst for God which only the Spirit can quench, a thirst of need or a thirst of desire.

3. Jesus would not have had living water to bestow had He not been in a condition to require the refreshment He asked. It was because He assumed a humanity, tempted in all points like as we are, that He could give the water of life.

II. THERE IS A CONTRAST HERE BETWEEN THE NARROWNESS OF RELIGIOUS PREJUDICE AND THE GENEROSITY OF CHRISTIAN GRACE. To tell a thirsty man that he belongs to another religion! The gift of man is hindered by what should have arrested and inspired it, "the gift of God." Knows no obstacle but our unfitness.

1. The desire to bless was strong, constant, and spontaneous in Jesus.

2. As we possess Christ's Spirit we shall do likewise. Do we want occasions for doing good? It is the occasions rather that want us; and the heart filled with Divine love will use occasions as they present themselves, just as water flows through the channels made for it.

3. In proportion to our likeness to Him will be our generosity. Living water cannot be restrained. Mere beliefs, feelings, customs, may be stagnant ponds, hut the power of the Divine Spirit is like running water: its movement keeps it fresh. Love must act to live. Grace gains by giving.

III. HERE IS A CONTRAST BETWEEN THE WOMAN'S RELATION TO CHRIST AND HER OWN CONCEPTION OF IT. She did not know Him or the boon He bore. A man may know and not do, but he cannot do unless he know. And knowledge of the principles of religion would secure its possession. If men knew Christ's unspeakable gift they could not fail to seek it. The woman's ignorance made her look on Christ as one to be ministered to. Had she known Him she would have been the supplicant. Our ignorance of Him is continually misrepresenting His requirements.

1. He requests our obedience, and we consider whether or not we shall comply, as if in doing we were to oblige Him. A full knowledge will make us realize our indebtedness to Him, and to see in His mighty help the only possibility of doing His will and to crave it.

2. The thought applies to the efficiency of works of faith and love. We think that is due to the intrinsic excellence of our deeds. But He employs us and renders His work effectual.

3. The same is applicable to rewards, which we expect on the ground of worthness; but all our goodness is from Him, and knowledge of Christ would make eternal glory a thing to be sought, not deserved.

IV. A CONTRAST BETWEEN EAGERNESS FOR THE LOWER GOOD AND INDIFFERENCE TO THE HIGHER. When the woman mistook Christ as meaning literal running water she said, "Give me the water." Yet we are not told that when she learnt the sense of Jesus, she asked to be supplied with His spiritual gift. So men labour for the perishing and neglect the eternal.

(A. J. Morris.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: Jesus answered and said unto her, 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.

WEB: Jesus answered her, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, 'Give me a drink,' you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water."

The Preaching of Christ
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