It seems there are some common themes throughout Scripture. One of those themes is water and it has often caused me to pause and pray about what God is trying to tell us regarding water. What does water signify? Does it have a greater meaning than the individual stories tell us? If we look closely, we can see there is a deeper cleansing purpose.
In John 4 we see where Jesus comes to rest at a water well. The disciples go into town without Jesus and, as we easily see in Scripture, nothing is accidental with Jesus. He is always where He needs to be and when He needs to be there. Jesus was tired and it was in the heat of the day. Yet, he encounters a woman who was living in sin, shame, and likely was coming to draw water during the heat of the day because it was the time of day when the least amount of people would be there. Yet, Jesus sees her. Jesus always sees us. He never overlooks anyone.
“Jesus answered and said to her, ‘If you knew the gift of God and who is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him, and he would have given you living water.’” (John 4:10)
The conversation between the two continues and Jesus explains to her about the gracious gift of the water of life. “Jesus answered and said to her, ‘Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again; but whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst; the water I shall give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.’” (John 4:13-14)
Living water? What did Jesus mean by saying He could give her “living water”. Throughout Scripture we see, for example, that the Israelites have been freed from slavery and captivity and yet do not last three months following their freedom before they are complaining about life without a slave master.
“Here, then, in their thirst for water, the people grumbled against Moses, saying, ‘Why did you ever make us leave Egypt? Was it just to have us die here of thirst with our children and our livestock?” (Exodus 17:3)
Shortly after their freedom from slavery, the Israelites were not happy. Things were not like they wanted, they envisioned, or they planned. It became easy for them to look back to the past and convince themselves their slavery was a better option than freedom. It appeared the freedom would kill them while the slavery would keep them alive. Sin is always an illusion and Satan is always the greatest illusionist.
The gift of God is eternal life, and He bestows that gift upon us in a variety of ways. With the Samaritan woman, he tells us the water he gives will be “living water”. It will be water that never runs dry. The “living water” of the grace, mercy, and love of Christ that is poured out for us upon Calvary is the flowing water that washes us from our sins.
Christ also uses baptism as a cleansing from original sin.
“The different effects of Baptism are signified by the perceptible elements of the sacramental rite. Immersion in water symbolizes not only death and purification, but also regeneration and renewal. Thus, the two principal effects are purification from sins and new birth in the Holy Spirit. By Baptism all sins are forgiven, original sin and all personal sins, as well as punishment for sin.” (CCC 1262-1263)
We have all become slaves to sin at one point in our life. In fact, we struggle with the desire to look back at our slavery and think that it appears to be a better option than serving the Lord. We miss the flood of living water that flows from the graces of Christ when we begin to look in the rear view mirror.
“Hence, now there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus has freed you from the law of sin and death.” (Romans 8:1)
We have been set free from the slavery of sin through the living waters of baptism and our regeneration and renewal into life in Christ. It is in this freedom that we should rejoice and refuse to look back on our time in slavery and think it is ever a better option. The shackles of sin will always lead to death and the key of Christ will always set us free.