WATER. Jesus first employed the symbol of water to the Holy Spirit when speaking with the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well.
Jesus said, “Everyone who drinks from this water will get thirsty again. But whoever drinks from the water that I will give him will never get thirsty again—ever! In fact, the water I will give him will become a well of water springing up within him for eternal life” (John 4:13-14)
But an hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth. Yes, the Father wants such people to worship Him. God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth (John 4:23-24)
Most English translations do not capitalize “spirit” in these verses. A. T. Robertson links “spirit” to the Holy Spirit.
In spirit and truth (en pneumatic kai alhyeia). This is what matters, not where, but how (in reality, in the spirit of man, the highest part of man, and so in truth). All this is according to the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:5) who is the Spirit of truth (John 16:13). Here Jesus has said the final word on worship, one needed today (RWP).
“The Spirit of Truth,” the water that I will give him” and “a well of water springing up within him for eternal life” should be connected with Jesus’ invitation at the Feast of Tabernacles and John’s explanation.
On the last and most important day of the festival, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone is thirsty, he should come to Me and drink! The one who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, will have streams of living water flow from deep within him.” He said this about the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were going to receive, for the Spirit had not yet been received, because Jesus had not yet been glorified (John 7:37-39).
The well of water of John 4 becomes the streams of living water in John 7, a prediction of the ministry of the Holy Spirit that begun at Pentecost and continues until today.
Paul stated that the Israelites during their desert wanderings drank of Christ.
They all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from a spiritual rock that followed them, and that rock was Christ (1 Corinthians 10:3-4).
The rock here is called “spiritual,” not from anything special in the nature of the rock, but because it was a source of God’s mercy and the rock typified Christ’s ministry. Thus, it is implied that the water from it typified the Holy Spirit, who gives life and refreshes the soul, and He would come from Christ after He was struck at Calvary (cf. Exodus 17:6).
Similarly, water foreshadows the Holy Spirit in the typical teachings at the Tabernacle, which symbolize Christ, the believer and the plan of salvation. As the priest entered the door of the tabernacle to worship Almighty God, and to serve, he first came to the altar of burnt offering, which typified the death of an innocent substitute, and the place of blood. This pointed to the Cross of
Christ and the shedding of His blood for our sins. Salvation begins at the Cross, but does not end there. Next, the priest proceeded to the next furnishing of the Tabernacle, the bronze basin.
The LORD spoke to Moses: “Make a bronze basin for washing and a bronze stand for it. Set it between the tent of meeting and the altar, and put water in it. Aaron and his sons must wash their hands and feet from the basin. Whenever they enter the tent of meeting or approach the altar to minister by burning up an offering to the LORD, they must wash with water so that they will not die. They must wash their hands and feet so that they will not die; this is to be a permanent statute for them, for Aaron and his descendants throughout their generations” (Exodus 30:17-21).
The washing with water from the bonze basin typifies the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit.
But when the goodness and love for man appeared from God our Savior, He saved usnot by works of righteousness that we had done, but according to His mercy, through the washing of regeneration and renewal by the Holy Spirit. This Spirit He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that having been justified by His grace, we may become heirs with the hope of eternal life (Titus 3:4-7).
This washing was for the hands and for the feet. The hands speak of service; the feet speak of walk and of conduct. Jesus used this symbol at the Last Supper when He washed the disciples’ feet with water.
“One who has bathed,” Jesus told him, “doesn’t need to wash anything except his feet, but he is completely clean. You are clean, but not all of you” (John 13:10).
“Bathed” denotes that the washing of regeneration and renewal is once for all, but the washing of the hands and feet is a daily occurrence that involves the Holy Spirit’s work in the life of the believer. Blood (Christ’s sacrifice) and pure water (the Spirit’s regeneration and cleansing) open the way into the sanctuary of God:
Therefore, brothers, since we have boldness to enter the sanctuary through the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that He has inaugurated for us, through the curtain (that is, His flesh); and since we have a great high priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed in pure water (Hebrews 10:19-22).
The clean water of the New Covenant typifies the Holy Spirit’s cleansing work.
I will also sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. I will cleanse you from all your impurities and all your idols. I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will remove your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. I will place My Spirit within you and cause you to follow My statutes and carefully observe My ordinances (Ezekiel 36:26-27).
There is an abundance of water in creation, and when used of the Spirit, it represents the abundant life and His refreshing of the soul. Water is one of the most powerful forces in nature. God used it to destroy the world in the days of Noah. Yet, water produces energy and power when controlled. Water is life giving; man would perish without it. Water is used for cleansing. Hence, the symbol of
water includes eternal life springing from the Spirit, and the power, abundance, and cleansing of His ministry.