Do you know the story of Jesus and the woman at the well (John 4)?
Jesus goes up to a Samaritan woman at a well and asks her to draw Him a drink. She questions the request: why ask me for a drink when You’re a Jew and I’m a Samaritan? Jesus then quips that if she knew to whom she was talking, she would have asked Him to draw the water.
The Samaritan woman responds by rightly pointing out that Jesus had nothing with which to draw water. Jesus responds that she would never thirst again if she drinks His “living water.” He uses the opportunity to make clear that He is the promised Messiah.
If one reads the Gospels with any honesty and regularity, the natural conclusion one reaches is that Jesus is nothing short of a genius. (The supernatural conclusion is to trust Jesus as the only Son of God, worthy of all our worship.) Every single one of His parables, stories, and comments has a powerful point, frequently laced with multiple meanings. With this in mind, it is obviously no accident that Jesus uses the analogy of living water and correlates it to Himself.
The first miracle that Jesus performed was turning water into wine at a wedding in Cana (John 2). But after this miracle, He did not stand up and tell the crowd that He was the wine of life or living wine. Some may consider wine a fine addition to a special occasion, but it is hardly an indispensable part of life. So, Jesus does not describe himself in these terms.
Water, on the other hand, is absolutely essential to human survival. Without water, we, powerful humans we are, would die, within days. It would be a long, slow, and painful death, one that we would not wish on our worst enemy.
God is the creator of water. In the first chapter of Genesis, God blesses creation and its waters, “God blessed them and said, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the water in the seas, and let the birds increase on the earth’” (Genesis 1:22 NIV).
David makes it clear that the waters demonstrate God’s sovereignty over the earth: “The earth is the LORD’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it on the seas and established it on the waters” (Psalm 24:1–2 NIV).
What Can You Do Without Water?
The water that many of us access by the flick of a faucet is easily taken for granted. Years ago, before we were married, my wife, Laurie, experienced a drought in Russia. The challenge of living without water became a harsh reality. Typically, we think of water for drinking but when you don’t have access to it, you begin to realize it affects everything we do.
The people could not clean their clothes, their dishes, nor themselves. They could not flush the commode nor wash their floors. They could not clean their food nor cook it.
They had to search for water, carry it, and spend hours boiling it. When water is not regular and plentiful, the search for it takes over one’s life.
There is little one can do without water. You cannot spend your time studying in school, building your business, or caring for your family. Water acquisition becomes an all-consuming task from which there is no relief. The need is constant.
There is not much time for church worship or contemplating spiritual things. This is why we cannot divide the physical from the spiritual. God created us as physical and spiritual beings. If we are weak in one area, it will frequently affect the other. And this is why Christians and churches around the world need to focus on ensuring others have clean water. With it, they have a better chance to flourish, enjoying life as God designed— in fellowship with one another and with the Living Water.
“If anyone gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones who is my disciple, truly I tell you, that person will certainly not lose their reward” (Matthew 10:42 NIV).
Mark Russell, author of The Missional Entrepreneur, is a widely respected voice in the missional community. He has lived in Russia, Chile, and Germany, and has traveled to more than 70 countries to carry out a variety of business, educational, humanitarian, and religious projects. Contact Mark through www.russell-media.com; www.facebook.com/marklrussell; www.twitter.com/marklrussell.
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