Exodus 15: 22 Then Moses ordered Israel to set out from the Sea of Reeds, and they went into the wilderness of Shur. They went three days in the wilderness and found no water. 23 When they came to Marah, they could not drink the water of Marah because it was bitter. That is why it was called Marah. 24 And the people complained against Moses, saying, “What shall we drink?” 25 He cried out to the Lord; and the Lord showed him a piece of wood; he threw it into the water, and the water became sweet. There the Lord made for them a statute and an ordinance and there he put them to the test. 26 He said, “If you will listen carefully to the voice of the Lord your God, and do what is right in his sight, and give heed to his commandments and keep all his statutes, I will not bring upon you any of the diseases that I brought upon the Egyptians; for I am the Lord who heals you.” 27 Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve springs of water and seventy palm trees; and they camped there by the water.
Matthew 10: 40 “Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. 41 Whoever welcomes a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward; and whoever welcomes a righteous person in the name of a righteous person will receive the reward of the righteous; 42 and whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple—truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward.”
Matthew 25: 31 “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, 33 and he will put the sheep at his right hand and the goats at the left. 34 Then the king will say to those at his right hand, “Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; 35 for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? 38 And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? 39 And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ 40 And the king will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’
Water is everywhere in the Bible. Here we see the people of God, who have just come through a deluge of water as they crossed the Sea of Reeds, suddenly lacking good water. In the desert, water is life, not just metaphorically, but truly and physically. God certainly knows what they need, and would not bring them out with such great signs and wonders only to let them die of thirst in Egypt’s shaddow. And yet the people grumble. In response, God brings sweetness to the bitter waters in front of them, an then leads them on from that place to a lush oasis. Water is first sustaining and later lavish.
The two stories from Matthew’s gospel suggest that in sharing the sustaining water with someone in need (as God’s people were in need at Marah) we receive blessings as if we were sharing with Jesus himself or one of the first Apostles.
If such is the blessing that comes by sharing H2O, imagine the blessings that come by sharing the Living Water (the life-giving Spirit within us). We are called to do both.