A variety of folktales about a possible “Fountain of Youth” have circulated across the world for thousands of years. Greek historian Herodotus in the fifth century B.C. wrote about a fountain supposedly in Ethiopia, with a very special kind of water which gave the people superior duration of life. A tale was also told about Alexander the Great crossing the Land of Darkness with his servant to find the spring with the power to restore youthfulness. Juan Ponce de León was searching for such a fountain back in 1513 when he was exploring Florida. Do any such fountains really exist?
There was another account of an eternal source of the water of life. It was during the time of Jesus’ ministry when He was taking the road from Judea to Galilee which went through Samaria, where Jacob’s well was located. As He made the long, hot journey that led Him near this well, He became tired. So He sent His disciples ahead to get food while He rested by Himself at the well during the hottest part of the day. Then a woman from Samaria came to draw water from the well. Jesus looked at her and said, “Give me to drink,” because He had no means to draw water from the well Himself. She looked at Jesus in disbelief and asked, “…How is it that thou, being a Jew, askest drink of me, which am a woman of Samaria? For the Jews have no dealings with Samaritans” (John 4:9). There was great hatred then between the Samaritans and the Jews. It surprised her that Jesus did not show the anger His own nation had against the Samaritans.
Jesus replied, “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” (John 4:10). Then she said, “Sir, thou hast nothing to draw with, and the well is deep: from whence then hast thou that living water? Art thou greater than our father Jacob, which gave us the well, and drank thereof himself, and his children, and his cattle?” (John 4:11-12).
The well was a very deep one indeed, not only physically, but also spiritually—deeper than anyone could have imagined. This woman did not realize that the man she was speaking directly to was Jesus. She only recognized Him as a Jew dealing with a Samaritan woman. But He was the very Savior her heart and soul had been longing for. She was trying to understand what Jesus was saying to her about living water. But she did it in her own natural way.
Jesus took this opportunity to teach the woman divine things. But what He told her figuratively, she took literally. He helped her to see her ignorance and sinfulness and need of a Savior. He showed her that the water from Jacob’s well would give very limited satisfaction. But the woman had not asked Jesus to give her living water so she could have everlasting life. She only asked Him so she would not have to come back to the well again to draw more water. Then the Lord Jesus severely reproved her current way of life, convicting her conscience.
The woman was going to drop the issue without making a decision until the Messiah comes back. Then Jesus told her, “I that speak to thee am He” (John 4:26).
She was a Samaritan, not part of Israel. Merely talking to her would have been considered a disgrace to a Jew. But this was the woman Jesus revealed Himself to more fully than He had to any of His disciples to that point.
The woman wondered what she needed to do to have eternal life. The answer was very simple: believe and receive Jesus Christ as the divine source of the eternal water of life. These waters spring up into life everlasting, through a “new birth”—the beginning of a new life. This is also referred to as being “born again,” which means beginning to live a new life of holiness for those who have lived the wrong way, or not to much purpose.
In our first biological birth, we were born in sin and were corrupt. We therefore needed to be re-created as new, sinless beings. We must be entirely different from what we were before. We can drink from Christ’s heavenly source of the “eternal water of life,” with its power of regeneration known as the new birth. It comes through this great transformation in the heart of a sinner, by the power of the Holy Spirit, which always produces eternal life. This new birth is from Heaven, meaning believing spiritually in Jesus Christ. None of the sins in our past can keep us from being accepted by Him, if we will just humble ourselves before Him, repent of our sin, and believe in Him as the Christ—the source of the eternal water of life and the Savior of the world .
Man continues to search for the mythical “Fountain of Youth.” But even if one could be found, it cannot produce eternal life for those who drink from it.
No matter what kind of earthly waters we drink to try to extend or restore our youth or to comfort ourselves, we will still thirst again. Jesus said: “…Whosoever drinketh of…” this natural source of “… water shall thirst again: but whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life” (John 4:13-14). Not a “fountain of youth,” but a “fountain of life” really exists. The Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well was searching in her heart for someone to save her from her sins. She found the “living water” that gave her new life. The Lord Jesus is sitting beside you right now. Why not tell Him, “…Sir, give me this water…” (John 4:15) and you will never have to thirst again—because you have found the true “fountain of life”!