In ancient times water was not easily accessible. Much like it is today in third world countries, the people go to gather water daily. If the people are fortunate, they have a clean source of healthy drinking water.
If you have ever looked at a map of Israel, you might have noticed that there is not a significant supply of fresh bodies of water. There is the Sea of Galilea in the North and the Jordan River. Apart from a few creeks or tributaries, the rest of Israel is dry and without fresh water.
To overcome the water problem, many would dig cisterns out of the rock. It is essentially a well that does not have a water source. It simply collects water from rain and run-off and stores it for later use. It was a good way to hold onto a limited supply of water in a dry and barren land.
Cistern water was not ideal for drinking because it was stagnant. As the water collected, it would become a breeding ground for parasites and potential dangerous pathogens. It would collect debris and trash and could otherwise become unusable for drinking.
If you were wealthy or fortunate, you were able to actually dig a well that was fed by underground springs. A well that actually hit underground water supplies produced good, healthy drinking water. These wells became important and valuable for communities. Cities would usually grow up around them and access to the water was sometimes guarded or protected. These natural spring wells produced what the locals would call “living water.”
It is at one of these wells where Jesus has an encounter with Samaritan woman (John 4). As Jesus and his disciples are making the trip from Judea to Galilea, they pass through Samaria. They stop at Jacob’s well, a living water well. The disciples go into the town that is about a quarter of a mile away and gets food. Jesus remains at the well because He has Divine Appointment.
Jesus shares the truth of the Gospel with this woman and declares to here that he is able to provide her with the true “Living Water.” This water will quench your spiritual thirst and since it is fed from a living source it will bring about eternal life.
The Living Water. It is more than just a spring fed well, its the source of abundant life for the believer.