The Water of Life

Steven Bouma-Prediger

READ : John 7:37-44

Let anyone who is thirsty come to me. (v. 37 NRSV)

It was the time of the Jewish Festival of Booths. For seven days water was carried in golden pitchers from the Pool of Siloam to the Temple. This was a reminder of the water that gushed forth from the rock in the desert when Moses struck it with his staff (Num. 20:2-13). This ritual was also a symbol of hope for the coming messiah (Isa. 12:3). Water as icon of past and of future. Water as symbol of remembrance and of hope.

On the very last day of this popular festival Jesus appeared. He had a habit of showing up at such events and turning everything inside out. Jesus cried out, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink.” While water already played an important role in this religious festival, Jesus increases its significance by making an astonishing claim: “I am the water of life.” As he does directly in the seven great “I am’s” of John’s Gospel (the bread of life; the light of the world; the gate; the good shepherd; the resurrection and the life; the way, the truth, and the life; the true vine), Jesus here indirectly gives us another “I am.” As with water, so too with Jesus: without him we cannot live.


Jesus, the Water of Life, give us yourself, that we may live and have life abundant.