12. Living Water
Updated: Feb 13
It was just before the Passover Festival. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.
The evening meal was in progress, and the devil had already prompted Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, to betray Jesus. Jesus knew that the Father had put all things under his power, and that he had come from God and was returning to God; so he got up from the meal, took off his outer clothing, and wrapped a towel around his waist. After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.
He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, “Lord, are you going to wash my feet?” Jesus replied, “You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand.” “No,” said Peter, “you shall never wash my feet.” Jesus answered, “Unless I wash you, you have no part with me.” “Then, Lord,” Simon Peter replied, “not just my feet but my hands and my head as well!” John 13: 1-9
This washing of the disciples feet is only recorded by John who was the youngest of the twelve and adored by Jesus. In his gospel, he describes himself as the disciple whom Jesus loved. This is where we are in the life of Yeshua, the savior, who in reality was another young man, only 33 and a half years old, and the Son of God as well. Jesus knew that the hour had come for him to leave this world and go to the father. But he as Christ knows that there is a necessary, required death on a cross that he must suffer before he returns home.
John, the beloved disciple, is also known as John the Revealer. He will witness God on his throne, Christ coming again in glory, and the destruction of the earth and Satan when he is no longer a young man. His visions will bring us terror and hope for our future: awful and awesome. Before we discuss the above passage, allow me to take us back through John’s gospel to point out some lovely stories some of which are only remembered by the young beloved John.
After baptizing his cousin, Jesus, in water, John the Baptist gave this testimony:
“I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I have seen and I testify that this is God’s Chosen One.” John 1: 32-34
The Holy Spirit like a dove, how lovely. Remember the Holy Spirit hovering over the waters of the new creation? In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth...and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters...
The second chapter of John opens with Jesus’ first miracle: the turning of the water into wine. This is another story only recorded in John’s gospel. Listen carefully as if for the first time:
On the third day a wedding took place at Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there, and Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. When the wine was gone, Jesus’ mother said to him, “They have no more wine.” “Woman, why do you involve me?” Jesus replied. “My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Do whatever he tells you.”
Nearby stood six stone water jars, the kind used by the Jews for ceremonial washing, each holding from twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus said to the servants, “Fill the jars with water”; so they filled them to the brim. Then he told them, “Now draw some out and take it to the master of the banquet.” They did so, and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside and said, “Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.” What Jesus did here in Cana of Galilee was the first of the signs through which he revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him. John 2: 2-11
Again, only told in the gospel of John, this story is so incredibly rich with meaning. Who initiates this first miracle? Mary, mother of the Son of Man. Mary, who had been visited by the mighty angel Gabriel, and chosen by the Almighty God. Mary who’s son was conceived by the Holy Spirit! ...Please, take a moment to take that in... Mary, who had watched in awe as this precious child of her’s grew into a man as she pondered these things. Mary begins the Son of God’s ministry as she prompts Jesus into showing his glory.
Jesus instructs that the servants fill jars used by the Jews for ceremonial washing. They fill these jars to the brim, full to almost overflowing. And the water is turned into wine. And the bridegroom is credited with the gift of the offering at the wedding. This foreshadowing is the gospel, the good news, revealed.
Now listen to the discussion that Jesus has with Nicodemus in the next chapter of John:
Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.” Jesus replied, “Very truly I tell you, no one can see the Kingdom of God unless they are born again.” “How can someone be born when they are old?” Nicodemus asked. “Surely they cannot enter a second time into their mother’s womb to be born!” Jesus answered, “Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the Kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.” “How can this be?” Nicodemus asked. John 3: 3-9
Born of water and the Spirit, ...Nicodemus, the pharisee who came in the darkness of night, cannot understand the words of Jesus, the Word of Christ. Christ, the Son of God, responds, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
The Son came to save the world. Please listen carefully, yes, the Son came to save the lost sheep, but not only the nation of Israel, but the world:
Now he had to go through Samaria. So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about noon.When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” ...The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.) Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his livestock?” Jesus answered, “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: 4-14
This meeting occurred while Jesus and his disciples were traveling from Jerusalem to Galilee to preach, teach and heal the lost sheep of Israel. They choose to cross into Samaria as a short cut. It is here that Jesus first reveals himself as the Messiah to one of the most despised of his created beings, this unnamed Samaritan woman at the well. Everything about her story points to the absolute lowness of her social situation. Read the rest of her story in John 4. And yet the Son of God chooses her in his first offering of “living water.”
John continues his cosmic, supernatural testimony in one of Christian children’s most well known stories. Again, read this as if for your first time:
When evening came, his disciples went down to the lake, where they got into a boat and set off across the lake for Capernaum. By now it was dark, and Jesus had not yet joined them. A strong wind was blowing and the waters grew rough. When they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus approaching the boat, walking on the water; and they were frightened. But he said to them, “It is I; don’t be afraid.” John 6: 16-20
Take a moment to read John 5-7, as we progress rapidly to Jesus’ last days and his last supper. The Jewish Feast of Tabernacles was ordained by the Lord in the desert after the Israelites has been delivered from bondage in Egypt:
On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.
John 7: 37-39
And the rulers of God’s beloved child, the nation of Israel’s response?
“Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed in him? No! But this mob that knows nothing of the law—there is a curse on them.” Nicodemus, who had gone to Jesus earlier and who was one of their own number, asked, “Does our law condemn a man without first hearing him to find out what he has been doing?” John 7: 48-50
What do these passages have in common? The book of John, the beloved disciple who would later write the Book of Revelations, is so rich in its imagery. Water, living water, is one of my favorites. John the Baptist announces the Son of God by his symbolic baptism in the River Jordan. Mary, his mother, initiates his ministry with the water into wine. Nicodemus fails to grasp the gift of a rebirth by water and the Spirit. The Samaritan woman at the well receives his first blessing as “Living Water.” The disciples witness him walking on the water. And Jesus, the Christ, washes his disciples feet… and prepares to offer himself as the blood sacrifice through the Passover wine.
The story of the flood in the Old Testament is the Bibles fourth description of heartbreak suffered by the Holy Family because of sin and the broken creation. The angels and the fall of Satan is closely followed by the expulsion of Adam and Eve because of their betrayal. The next heartbreak occurs in the story of the first murder of Abel by his brother, Cain. Then, as the earth is filled with humanity, the story of Noah is told. His story, the story of the flood is really so much about the Father’s concern for Holy Spirit who, if you remember, was hovering over the waters of the new creation. Listen carefully to the wording of the Bible:
When human beings began to increase in number on the earth... the Lord said, “My Spirit will not contend with humans forever,... The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled. So the Lord said, “I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created...for I regret that I have made them.” But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord... So God said to Noah, “I am going to put an end to all people, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. I am surely going to destroy both them and the earth. So make yourself an ark of cypress wood...Genesis 6: 6-14
The Holy Spirit was grieving. When I teach my high school students about Noah’s story, I once again climb up on top of the coffee table. I am God, the Father, far away from the creation that has fallen. But our beloved Holy Spirit is not so protected. He is hovering over the earth and witnessing all the perversion and all the brokenness of that fractured place.
Then he sent out a dove to see if the water had receded from the surface of the ground. But the dove could find nowhere to perch because there was water over all the surface of the earth; so it returned to Noah in the ark. He reached out his hand and took the dove and brought it back to himself in the ark. He waited seven more days and again sent out the dove from the ark. When the dove returned to him in the evening, there in its beak was a freshly plucked olive leaf! Then Noah knew that the water had receded from the earth. He waited seven more days and sent the dove out again, but this time it did not return to him. Genesis 8: 8-12
And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant I am making between me and you and every living creature with you, a covenant for all generations to come: I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth. Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.” Genesis 9: 12-16
A dove, how lovely…An earthly dove brings a token of redemption to the new first family. And a rainbow for the new covenant that God promises the only humans still alive on the renewed earth. He would never destroy his creation again with water. The flood that washes the perversion and degradation from the creation is done for the sake of the Holy Spirit. Satan and sin is very powerful. Love and light is of course more powerful but heartbreak is such a part of love. The heartbreak of the holy family is so very poignant in the story.
The 29:11 Story
One of the cross color on the 29:11 Stories is turquoise that represents Jesus, the Son of Man, and his gift of living water, the Holy Spirit. The Samaritan woman at the well is represented by a beautiful aqua, turquoise bead as Christ’s offer of Living Water: himself and the Holy Spirit, eternal life full to the brim and overflowing. This bead is found amidst the series of beads that make up the story of Jesus’ ministry. It’s very easy to identify; it looks like water. Now water, one of our most important necessities for survival is redeemed; the destroying flood from the story of Noah is now the life giving gift from our Holy Family.
Please find the series of beads on the downfall of the necklace that represent the story of Noah. There is the wooden bead, the ark, the flood, the redeemed earth, and the rainbow. Your flood will echo the Samaritan woman at the well. The rainbow bead will echo another rainbow that will begin our story of Christ’s second coming.
My son’s cancer rocked our little family of five. It also devastated our extended family, specifically William’s cousins. William’s friends were also affected. His closest group of friends were nicknamed ‘the Posse,” and they stood by him until the bitter end. In the middle of William’s battle, his beloved Aunt Jane was diagnosed with breast cancer. Then, William’s best friend’s father was diagnosed with lung cancer. All three of these wonderful people died within 2 years of each other. Three losses because we live in a broken world.
My two other children were young when William was diagnosed with cancer. My daughter struggled from age 10 on until William’s death and beyond. Someone gave her a poster that quoted the first chapter of James. She tacked this poster up on her ceiling, right above her bed. It was the first and the last thing she saw every morning and every night. Remember, this author, James, was the brother of Jesus. Like my daughter, James knew the pain of losing a sibling:
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1: 1-4
She and I came up with the analogy that life is like a river. We like to think that our loved ones are all together in one boat flowing downstream. But we are not together in this boat, we are each in our own little boat all alone. Sometimes, on this river, we can join our boats together but the rapids and the rocks will always tear our ropes apart. So my daughter and I decided that we did not have to be alone in our boats, the Holy Spirit longs to be invited in for the frightening journey down the river. I have often heard others voice this analogy. Here is the rest of that passage by James:
If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.
James 1: 5-8
The water and the wind…tamed by the Lord, Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit…