How can creatures like us who were made from the dust of the earth be accorded the privilege to satisfy the deep desire of Jesus Christ by His Spirit?

A Thirst That Fulfills

by Daniel Lim
9/26/23 Christian Living

Adapted from Bible 360°: Total Engagement with the Word of God by Daniel Lim, available in the Forerunner Bookstore.

In this blog, we will explore how the Bride of Christ has been designed by God to be fully satisfied when Christ is fully glorified in her. This satisfaction is not merely a superficial satisfaction but a deep quenching of an innermost desire as expressed in Jesus’ prayer, “Father, I desire” (John 17:24). This deep satisfaction within the Bride of Christ is meant to be sustained for all eternity as she relates to the very nature of the beauty and majesty of Jesus Christ.

Jesus explained eternal life as eternal knowing—eternal relationship with an ever-growing intimate knowing in the context of covenant love (John 17:1–5). The Scripture seems to point to the fact that the eternal, the almighty, the uncreated, the anointed-with-gladness Christ has opened up a possibility to relate deeply with His covenant Bride by allowing His Spirit-filled Bride to enter into holy longing—thirst—through true worship. True worship is an innate living response invoked by the Holy Spirit when living creatures encounter the nature of the glorious Christ. This truth profoundly impacted me personally. As I reflect on the greatness and vastness of God’s creation, how can creatures like us who were made from the dust of the earth be accorded the privilege to satisfy the deep desire of Jesus Christ by His Spirit?

The study of the thirst of Christ and the thirst of humanity helps us understand key correlations between life in the Holy Spirit, true worship, and our unique privilege as the chosen eternal companion of Christ. We are indeed the flesh of His flesh, the bone of His bone. This is the mystery of Christ and the Church. Within this covenant sealed by His redemptive blood, there is a bond of love that produces a deep mutual satisfaction in the Holy Spirit. Let us begin this journey to explore the understanding of the thirst of Christ in relation to our own deep thirst.

Theologians and Bible teachers of various periods have taken interest in studying the last words of Jesus. One of these crucial last phrases was uttered immediately before He gave up His spirit to the Father. In John 19:28, Jesus said, “I thirst.”

After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, “I thirst!” (John 19:28)

In 2005, I was impressed by the Spirit during a time of prayer to meditate on the cross, and I was particularly drawn to these two words that Jesus uttered on the cross. While it was obvious that Jesus was physically dehydrated, I felt that this thirst that Jesus experienced on the cross was beyond a physical thirst caused by dehydration. The beating, the bleeding, the scorching heat of the sun at noon, and the prolonged process of crucifixion put Jesus’ body in the extreme stress of fatal dehydration. While every cell in Christ’s body was yearning for water, His spirit was longing for something deeper and more satisfying than water. What could that be?

I realized that this was not a question easily understood by inductive Bible study and exegesis. It demanded prayerful meditation upon the biblical text and communion with the Spirit that would lead to an exploration of the mind and emotions of God. We are dealing with the passion and desire of Christ in those last moments of His earthly life.

I continued to prayerfully study and meditate on this for the next three weeks during my times of prayer. It was exhilarating and frustrating as I did not receive any additional insight for more than two weeks during the initial phase of my meditation effort. On the twentieth day, while I was pacing and meditating in the prayer room in Kansas City, I perceived the Holy Spirit prompting me to read the passage in John 4 where Jesus encountered the Samaritan woman at the well. That same day I was also reminded of John 7:37–39. Over the next week I had the most enlightening time in the Holy Scriptures pertaining to Jesus’ exclamation, “I thirst.” The understanding of these two words uttered on the cross has escorted me into a crucial dimension of the passion of Christ and His deep yearning for His eternal Bride. It has also highlighted to me the centrality of the role of the Holy Spirit in regenerating, indwelling, empowering, and sanctifying believers from glory to glory into the likeness of Christ.

The biblical account in John 4 begins with Jesus traveling to Galilee by passing through the region of Samaria. He stops by Jacob’s well at Sychar and His disciples decide to go into town to replenish their food supply, leaving Jesus at the well to wait for their return.

During that time, a Samaritan woman approached the well to draw water. This was an unusual time to come out to draw water because the sun was overhead; water was usually drawn in the morning. It could be that this woman was trying to avoid the crowds due to her sinful lifestyle.

As Jesus waited for His disciples at the well, He reached out to the woman when He saw her coming to draw water, by saying, “Give me a drink.”

A woman of Samaria came to draw water. Jesus said to her, “Give Me a drink.” For His disciples had gone away into the city to buy food. (John 4:7–8)

These verses set the tone of their conversation in John 4. The Holy Spirit used thirst and hunger, two of the most universally felt needs in humanity, to illustrate two of the most crucial truths to us. This passage focuses on sustaining the deep, eternal relationship between believers and God. It begins with Jesus expressing His thirst and leads to Him exposing the thirst of the Samaritan woman and its root cause beyond her physical thirst. Jesus used this universally identifiable need to bring the Samaritan woman to a revelation of true worship and the divine nature. She encountered a revelation of Jesus at the well that empowered her witness of Christ.  On that day, her Samaritan town received the witness of the gospel of Christ and believed because of her testimony. Jesus then proceeded to establish a direct relationship between satisfaction of spiritual hunger and God’s hunger for a harvest of souls.

This passage is fascinating because Jesus used the most commonly understood desire to illustrate the most central, crucial, and eternal truth pertaining to the relationship of God with His people: His desire. Imagine the uncreated, almighty, eternal God who existed in perfection, incarnated in the flesh, reaching out to humanity to quench His thirst. It seems natural that flesh and blood would experience physical thirst, but it becomes clear in the later part of the conversation that He was leading the woman to recognize a thirst that was deeper than her physical thirst.

Jesus answered and said to 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.” (John 4:10)

While she was still puzzled by the culturally odd request from a Jewish man, Jesus proceeded to lead her into a deeper question of who He was, implying that her thirst could be quenched by living water He could offer her—His life-giving water.

At that point, the woman was still oblivious to the spiritual direction in which Jesus was leading and she was still preoccupied with her need for water. She began to show intrigue at the “living water” Jesus was offering her, even though she still had cultural and logistical objections.

Jesus proceeded to further intrigue her by describing the eternal, refreshing, and transformative power of this living water. He emphatically told her that anyone who receives this living water from Him would not only be eternally satisfied in their thirst, but they will become of a fountain of living water springing up into everlasting life. A “fountain of living water” or “well of living water springing up into everlasting life” depicts a gushing, artesian source of living water, that never stops flowing and eventually turns into a stream. Combined with other sources of water, it can become a mighty gushing river.

Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain [artesian spring] of water springing up into everlasting life.” (John 4:13–14)

Jesus offered the Samaritan woman an opportunity to have her spiritual thirst quenched and be transformed into a source of living water that would flow out from her as a river to quench the thirst of others.

The woman said to Him, “Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst, nor come here to draw.” (John 4:15)

Finally, she responded by asking Jesus for His living water. She was finally intrigued enough to drop all her objections and focus on the task of getting water from His well and respond to Jesus’ invitation. At that point, Jesus asked her to bring her husband.

From this point, the Samaritan woman began to respond to Jesus in conversation with spiritual content. Jesus was using the common desire of thirst to woo her into the subject of true worship in Spirit and truth. What does thirst have to do with spiritual worship? This question takes us back to Jesus’ exclamation on the cross in John 19:28: “I thirst.” Was Jesus thirsting for something on the cross besides physical water?

The key to understanding this deep “thirst” lies in grasping both biological and spiritual realities. From a biological perspective, human beings are made of cells that are full of water. Water is the most basic need of all cellular-based biological life forms. This is true to the point that astrophysicists look for signs of water in extraterrestrial worlds to identify whether or not it is potentially habitable. The desire for water is deeper than our desire for food, fame, friendship, etc. Without water, our existence is short-lived compared to the degradation of any other element. Jesus and the Samaritan met near Jacob’s well at Sychar with a common need for water. Jesus revealed His thirst to the Samaritan woman and then offered her a permanent and eternal solution for her own thirst. The woman still had her physical thirst, but we also learn that she has a thirst for love and has had many unsuccessful marriages. She was unaware of her spiritual thirst and Jesus was attempting to awaken a consciousness of that spiritual thirst by initiating a conversation first around her physical thirst and then around her emotional thirst.

In John 7:37–39, Jesus invited everyone who was thirsty to come to him on the eighth day of the great feast, the high Sabbath wherein those observing the feast were not allowed to work beyond a few basic tasks. Most people faced thirst and water shortages on that day because they were prohibited from drawing water from the well.

In this account, Jesus clearly connected living water with the Holy Spirit. Jesus paints a very clear picture concerning the state of a soul who puts their faith in Him and is given the Holy Spirit who quenches their thirst, moment by moment. Forever their thirsty inner man is transformed into one filled with the Holy Spirit, springing up into a stream of living water.

There are many sincere people, but sincerity cannot satisfy the human spirit’s thirst for Christ. Only those who recognize their spiritual thirst and turn away from their dependency on all other sources, which cannot quench their thirst, will be satisfied. Believing in Christ positions us to receive the living water of the Holy Spirit directly from Him. We must first drink deeply from the Prince of life, the Source from which all of our wells spring, the One who paid to give us of His Spirit freely.

Once a person or a people are filled with His Spirit, they begin to overflow into a stream that can quench Christ’s thirst. Though He needs nothing and is not dependent on anything from His created order—in the mystery of His creation and redemption, in the deep pleasure of His grace—He chose us as His beloved to partake in His divine nature through the indwelling Spirit of Christ. Such a spiritual life quenches His thirst because such a life reflects true spiritual worship. This is the kind of worship Paul exhorted the church in Rome to give God (Romans 12:1). They were to present their bodies as a living sacrifice, living temples of the Holy Spirit serving as springs that become streams of His living water.

Thus Jesus continued to lead the Samaritan woman into the subject of true spiritual worship. The woman was focusing on her Samaritan history, based upon which was the most sacred mountain for worship—Mount Gerizim for the Samaritans, or Mount Zion (Jerusalem) for the Jews. Jesus said, “But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth” (John 4:23). He then went on to explain why this must be so; why true worship must transcend sacred locations and buildings. Jesus said that “God is Spirit” (John 4:24). True worship must originate from our innermost being (our spirit); only a person filled with God’s Spirit can worship Him in such manner. Only such spiritual worship is true and acceptable before Him. Deep calls unto deep.

O my God, my soul is cast down within me;
Therefore I will remember You from the land
of the Jordan,
And from the heights of Hermon,
From the Hill Mizar.
Deep calls unto deep at the noise of Your waterfalls;
All Your waves and billows have gone over me.
The Lord will command His lovingkindness
in the daytime,
And in the night His song shall be with me—
A prayer to the God of my life.

I will say to God my Rock,
“Why have You forgotten me?
Why do I go mourning because of the
oppression of the enemy?” (Psalm 42:6–9)

I believe that on the cross of Calvary, as Jesus exclaimed “I thirst,” He knew He was redeeming for Himself a people from every tongue, every tribe, and every nation that will stand before Him in worship—redeeming a people that will be filled with His Spirit. This eternal covenant Bride was purchased by His own blood on the cross: a Bride whose thirst is satisfied by the living water of His Spirit and a Bride that quenches His thirst—His desire—forever.

How can you deepen your desire for God in light of His desire for you?

Are you enjoying this meditation from Daniel Lim? His book Bible 360°, from which the above article is taken, describes 10 dynamic ways believers can engage with the Scriptures to help the Word of God become alive in every part of their lives. Check it out here >>

Daniel Lim


  • Senior Leader, IHOPKC
  • Facilitator, Onething Global Leadership Summit
Daniel Lim served as the Chief Executive Officer of the International House of Prayer of Kansas City (2008-2020). He was trained at a Baptist seminary (MA in World Missions) and served as a Baptist pastor in Southeast Asia. With a passion for the gospel of the kingdom of God and the glory of Jesus Christ, Daniel teaches at conferences, churches, universities, and seminaries throughout the nations.

Daniel is the author of Bible 360°: Total Engagement with the Word of God. Daniel is married with two children. One of his children went home to be with the Lord in 2008 during a crisis relief effort.

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