Today we’re going to talk about water. Clean, living water.
We all need it, and without it all of us would die within a few days. In fact, it’s so important that your body actually has a drought management system in place to ensure our survival.
Just a mere 2% drop in our body's water supply can trigger dizziness, lack of focus, and bad jokes. And as that percentage increases so do your chances of greater health risks due to severe dehydration.
Just as a car cannot run without gas and oil, the body cannot work without water. It serves as a lubricant in digestion, regulates body temperature, and flushes harmful toxins from the body.
It’s essential to the food we eat. Fly over the American Great Plains and look down on the brown and green patchwork, and you’ll see where there is water, there is life.
In the bible alone, the word water appears 770 times; it’s rich with symbolic imagery. With it God created, purged, and blessed the Earth. God has used water to give a curse and to show favor. And water has been used to harm one's enemy and help offer aid as well. It’s been prayed for, wept over, and longed for. And it has caused as much fear as it has relief.
In the cold, wild waters of the Jordan River, the humanity of Jesus is baptized. And just the same, when he quieted a chaotic storm, walked on water, or turned water into wine, Jesus' divinity was made known.
Today, we sit with Jesus by an ancient well, as he uses an earthly situation to make a spiritual point: Where there is living water, there is everlasting life.
I’ve spent the better part of this week spiritually dry and thirsting for something more than what the world was offering me. Has that ever happened to you? Maybe right now you are sitting there feeling completely dehydrated and depleted of joy or inspiration? I get it. I’ve been going through it all week.
It’s in dry times like this that God calls you to sit at the well, drop your empty bucket into the deep unknown, and draw from the living waters to find your refreshment: a renewed and everlasting life.
As a well gives water to our bodies, God gives life to our souls.
Like the diverse symbolism of water, this one passage in John’s gospel is loaded with all sorts of good inspiration. Which is why I abandoned the lectionary this week to draw from this particular well. In the bible study this week, I invite you to put yourself in the story. You are the one who comes to the well. You are the one Jesus starts a conversation with. You are holding the bucket. And so you are the one who can help Jesus quench his thirst.
Plot Twist: The thirsty stranger is not the Samaritan woman. It’s Jesus.
Although Jesus was Divine, he was also human. He got tired like us. Hungry like us. And yes, he even got thirsty like us. I never thought of Jesus like me. And I certainly never thought he’d come to me to find refreshment. It’s supposed to be the other way around, right?
Sip on that for a moment. God thirsts for us; so much so that he came to be with us; to meet us at the well and to teach us about life, how to drink it in and share it with others. This sheds new light on Jesus and the Beatitude, “How blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness sake, for they will be filled.” God is blessed when we are filled, vise-versa. Living water flows both ways.
Through us, God’s righteousness is satiated. His hunger for justice, mercy, and peace is fed. As God drinks us in, we become an inseparable part of him; we become living water. Where there is living water, there is everlasting life.
Jesus is thirsty and we are the ones with the bucket.
You’d think it would be easy for a thirsty man to get a drink at a well, but Jesus cannot do it by himself. He has no cup, no bucket. It’s not like he can just waltz into a 7-11 and stick his head under the soda fountain. He relies on a stranger, a Samaritan, a woman. By this humble act, we learn how to care for the simple needs of one another. Even those we are taught to avoid.
Bishop Desmond Tutu would say, “A mighty ocean is made up of little drops. Just do your little bit of good where you are; it's those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.”
When Jesus asks for a drink of water, he is doing more than looking to quench his thirst. He is offering us an opportunity to see the Messiah in the face of a stranger. And to act accordingly. It’s through our selfless actions, that God’s love is revealed to the world. Just as we trickle into God, God comes gushing out through us like a broken water main. It’s newsworthy, and bound to get noticed.
Because she stopped to help a thirsty stranger, her life would be forever changed. And so is her community.
John’s gospel shows us how one simple act of kindness, done with selfless love, begins our salvation journey into renewal.
This story is not just about going to the well to find our faith, but what we do for the world with our faith bucket. It’s about knowing who Jesus is and doing what he asks us to do. A well full of water is only able to provide refreshment for those who seek it. And if it’s not used, our faith can become like stagnate water. Thus, God is calling us to be living water; to provide nourishment, restore hope, and replenish joy during those spiritually dry times.
As you go out into the world, to school or to work or to be with friends, remember this:
God has a drinking problem that needs your immediate attention. You are the one holding the bucket. Is it empty? Or is it full?
Through Christ, God has given us a way to participate in the very source from which all life originated, even when we are feeling spiritually parched. But will we go to the well or share the good news we draw from it?
With every act of kindness, righteousness is quenched. And love and mercy fill the deepest wells within us, and throughout all of creation. Yes, God is thirsty, for us and for righteousness.
And so, sip-by-sip God drinks us in, mixing us together, with all the saints, into the eternal living waters. And where there is living water, there is everlasting life.
An ex-copywriter turned punk rock pastor and peacemaker who dedicates his life to making the world a better place for all humanity.
"that they all might be one" ~John 17:21
“Prius vita quam doctrina.”
~ St. Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274)
* “Life is more important than doctrine.”