O Come, Living Water

Exodus 17:1-7, John 4:1-26, John 7:37-39

BY Russ Ramsey

Last year I took a trip to Israel. We arrived during the harvest season, when the vineyards were heavy with purple grapes lining the sides of the highway. Our guide, a local man named Yaov, talked about the grapes with a kind of enthusiasm I wasn’t expecting. As an American, it was strange to hear someone so excited about the grape harvest. I had assumed the harvest was just a natural and ordinary part of the agricultural cycle. No big deal.

When we asked Yaov why he was so captured by those grapes, his answer caught me off guard. He said, “When I see those grapes there, ready for harvest, I see water. Water in the desert. It’s a miracle, if you think about it.”

Today’s readings are all about water. For most people, water is one of the most common commodities, readily available at the turn of a faucet knob. But for people living in a desert before the days of indoor plumbing, drinkable water was not always easy to access. It’s also heavy and difficult to transport.

In Jesus’s day, getting a drink usually meant going to water—a well, a spring, a river, a cistern, or a household container that had to be refilled manually. Water represented the daily toil of staying alive.

When the people of Israel made their exodus from Egypt, they escaped into a desert where they would die without a water source. God gave them water, not from a spring, a well, or a river, but from a rock—the least likely source one could have imagined (Exodus 17:1–7). This miracle was for the simple purpose of keeping God’s people alive.

Later, when Jesus met the woman at the well (John 4:1–26), she was there doing what her people—and all people—had been doing every single day of their lives. She was gathering water. She had come the day before to do the same task. And the day before that. And she’d be back the next day for more. She was doing the hard work of living in this world.

To this woman—and by extension, to us—Jesus offers relief from the burdens of this life’s difficulties. There is only one place where we can find that relief, the kind of water that will slake our thirst forever. We will no longer need to go to another source for life. Instead, eternal life will spring up from within us (v.14). Christ is that source. And He doesn’t offer temporary relief; He offers everlasting relief (John 7:37–39).

As you read today’s passages, think about your own need for water. Think about what it feels like to be thirsty. And think about what Jesus is saying when He offers Himself as a source of water that will take away our thirst forever. At Christmastime, we celebrate the day Jesus came to earth to bring us that water. He stands at the door and knocks, offering Himself to us. Are you thirsty? He is water in the desert.

Written by Russ Ramsey

Post Comments (8)

8 thoughts on "O Come, Living Water"

  1. Justin Harger says:

    I may not understand what it is like to want for water, at least not for very long, but the word yearn comes to mind today. I yearn for many things of this world, some good and some bad. To yearn for living water from a Spirit dwelling in me rises a feeling of excitement though. Even as I jot these words, I feel a stirring, a quenching of my thirst with a prompt to move. A comfort in a world that celebrates self-comfort but always misses the mark. Today I will try to quench my thirst with the Spirit and not quench the Spirit with my thirst for other things.

  2. Kevin says:

    Day 10: I don’t know if I’ve ever thought of it this way but our thirst for water should mimic our thirst for God. An essential need to live. What if we came to God like were dehydrated all the time in search for him to provide us living water. Wow. I’m thankful for a God that fills us up when we come crying to him. Be someone that needs water everyday. God will give it to you. ⚒

  3. Troy says:

    Interesting to reflect on the toil of daily living in Jesus’ day — and in many developing countries today. It is often a battle for mere survival and health (as opposed to a battle for success and prosperity in the developed world). In the same way, many find themselves in a battle for spiritual survival, not knowing God or a biblical perspective on life. They fumble and toil to figure it out while Jesus offers relief from that toil and struggle. He is the Way. He is the Truth. And He is Life. The search and struggle to decode this life is over. Salvation is here!

  4. Graham says:

    So many people are thirsty and they don’t know it. Please Lord let us be articulate and kind when approaching those in need of a drink. Amen.

  5. Garrett says:

    Thank you, Lord, for being water in a desert. For being life in a place of death. Im so thankful that I can cast my burdens on Christ and know that I am taken care of everyday on a day to day physical level as well as a spiritual level! God is so good

  6. Jordan Brown says:

    God be praised my wife is pregnant. The last couple days my wife has been utterly sick. It is a vicious cycle where she can’t keep anything down and so gets dehydrated. The deadly thing with dehydration is that once you get past a certain point your body starts to reject water, the very thing that would save it and cure the dehydration.

    With modern medicine we don’t fret much but back in the day this level could mean death. But my wife needed a medical intervention in order to be able to be water that would keep her living. She needed a medicine that would help her accept the very thing that keeps her alive.

    It is a-lot like the intervention of God when he takes a sinner who wanted nothing to do with him, such as paul, and says, you can’t accept me on your own, so i shall intervene to make it so.

  7. Jason says:

    Just like gathering water everyday is a daily toil, we in a similar way toil everyday, doing the same things, to fill an emptiness in our soul. Jesus arrives and offers to satisfy that emptiness completely and eternally so we don’t have to anymore. The living water he offers is the Holy Spirit, which overflows and reaches other people.
    Needed this message today.

  8. Sean says:

    “Anyone who drinks of it will not be thirsty again.” How erroneously I return to other sources for refreshment, when it is Christ who gives true life!

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