Today's Reading: Exodus 17:1-7
"Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock in Horeb; and you shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it, that the people may drink." And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel. (Exodus 17:6)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. No Coke machine in the desert. No Pilot Travel Centers to stop and get a 99 cent fountain drink, any size! No coolers packed with cases of Gatorade or bottled water! The Israelites were so thirsty they figured God had just brought them out to let them dry up and die! How's that for unbelief!
When we get spiritually thirsty, we often grumble and complain. Things aren't going the right way. God's out to get me. What did I do to deserve this? Things are going well, God must love me. It's funny what strange notions will go through our heads when we're trying to think religious thoughts. But the Lord hasn't left you to die of spiritual thirst. He hasn't left you to wonder about how you will survive and overcome your sins and this wilderness of life. He gives you the water of Christ.
St. Paul tells us (check out tomorrow's reading) that Christ was the rock in the wilderness. Moses struck the rock and water poured out. Jesus was pierced with a spear and water—and blood—flowed out. The water in the wilderness kept the Children of Israel from dying of thirst. The water from Jesus' side, poured out from Calvary, keeps you from dying for your sins. That's the water of the holy font that was splashed upon you in Baptism. In the same way, His flesh and blood are given to feed you in the wilderness like the manna bread kept the Israelites from starving.
In the wilderness of this life, our Lord doesn't leave us to thirst and starve. We might think He does and then grumble and complain about it. But then He brings us to Himself and teaches us to live in our Baptism and to eat and drink Jesus' body and blood. We wander around in our unbelief, but our Lord satisfies our thirst and quiets our hunger by His holy food and drink which are given from Him.
These readings that lead us up to Lent remind us that this life is a sort of wandering in the wilderness. But it's not a journey of death. It's a journey through wilderness to life, all the while being sustained by the life-giving gifts of Jesus. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.
Open now the crystal fountain Whence the healing stream doth flow; Let the fiery, cloudy pillar Lead me all my journey through. Strong deliv'rer, strong deliv'rer, Be Thou still my strength and shield; Be Thou still my strength and shield. (LSB 918:2)