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Bottled water has become a multi-billion dollar business. The average consumption of bottled water in the US averages 30 gallons per-person per-year. My local supermarket offers at least 12 varieties, each promising to be superior to the others, although most would argue that none of them are any better than plain old tap water. That might be true, but I wouldn’t know – I’m not an expert on water.
But Jesus was; He walked on it and he turned it into wine. In the beginning he created it, and if you remember the account in John’s gospel; he met a Samaritan woman who was drawing it from a well. He said he could supply her with a never-ending water. He called it “living water.”
During that time, the phrase “living water” usually meant moving, flowing water. The woman knew there was no flowing water nearby. In fact, good clean drinking water was hard to come by. The only water available locally was in that well. So, of course the woman naturally asked him how she could get this exceptional water. Jesus told her, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (John 4:13-14).
When we become physically thirsty, water satisfies us, but we are more than just physical creatures. As the physical body needs water to continue living, so does the spirit. We are made in God’s image and we have a spiritual appetite. We can become spiritually hungry and thirsty too. Jesus explained that he was the source of that spiritual “living water” and by drinking of it; one can never thirst again.
The woman was astonished by his extraordinary offer. In fact, she may have not fully understood it at the time, but what astonished her was that Jesus spoke to her in the first place. She was a Gentile, a woman and had a somewhat dubious reputation. She was used to being shunned by her own people. A Jewish man would have gone to great lengths to avoid her. Nevertheless, Jesus accepted her–offering hope and encouragement.
Jesus offers new life, and he offers it to all humanity. By reaching out to an outcast Samaritan woman, Jesus showed that his Kingdom is for everybody from every nation, every tribe and every culture, no matter how many sins one has committed.
“Living water” is just one of the metaphors Jesus used to teach us about his Kingdom. Think about it next time you see an array of rather expensive and “superior” bottled waters on the supermarket shelf. Remember that the best water of all is even cheaper than the water from your tap, and you can have an endless supply – the gift of grace, free of charge. You just have to know where to get it.
I’m Joseph Tkach, Speaking of LIFE.