San Pellegrino of Life
Monday of Easter 2
9 April 2018
Water is essential to life. When Israel traveled in the wilderness after the Exodus, the people complained bitterly that they did not have enough water (Ex 17). God instructed Moses to strike the rock at Rephidim. The people suddenly had water and plenty of it (Num 20:11). St. Paul tells us that the people drank, not just of natural water, but of the Christ who sustained them on their travels, "For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ" (1Co 10:4). God has always seen to the proper watering of the flock of His pasture. When they were thirsty He led His sheep where there were still, clear waters.
This is crucial for sheep, because they are fussy animals, requiring clean water, and often refusing to drink water that is covered in scum or algae. Israel too was fussy, despite its tenuous war footing in the wilderness of Sin. The people really had no grounds for fussiness because their situation was so dire in a land with little water. There were millions of people and their livestock. The amount of water necessary would have been staggering. Complaining about the taste of the water would have been foolish and ungrateful. Yet they did it (Ex 15:24). The people were parched, but when they were brought to water they demanded Perrier. God, their Shepherd still accommodated them. And this against all human expectations. We would expect God, like a human parent, to say, "Drink what I put in front of you and quit complaining!" How graciously the Shepherd of Israel cares for the sheep by leading them beside the limpid waters of His Word.
King David, the Shepherd King had much experience in leading sheep for his family before his accession to the throne of Israel (1Sa 17:34), so he knew very well how crucial the still waters were to sheep. Perhaps he also had in mind the history of the people he led with their fussy demands made of the Chief Shepherd of the sheep. "He leads me beside still waters" (Ps 23:2) flows from David's stylus with fluidity. He had no doubt about God's compassionate care for His sheep. Sheep are anxious creatures, and, like us, they need the kind of shepherding that keeps them safe and comforted. The Lord Shepherd does this by leading them to the clear and cooling water they need for the true life. The water comes from Him, whose pierced side flowed with the water of life (Jn 19:34). Since He is the Rock from which flowed the water of life, the Word of God flows with life-giving water. The Word of God is where we receive and is the divinely given San Pellegrino of life.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

   Martin Luther
"This is the second fruit of the precious Word. It is not only the believers' pasture and grass, with which they are satisfied and grow strong in the faith; to them it is also pleasantly cool, fresh water, through which they gain refreshment and comfort. The psalmist therefore does not stop with saying, 'He makes me lie down in green pastures,' but also adds, 'He leads me to the fresh water.' It is as though he would say: 'In great heat, when the sun smites hard (Ps 121:6) and I can have no shade, He leads me to fresh water, gives me to drink, and refreshes me.' In all kinds of afflictions, anxieties, and distresses, both spiritual and physical, when I cannot find help and comfort anywhere, I cling to the Word of grace. There alone, and nowhere else, do I find the right comfort and refreshment, and find it richly. What he says here in figurative language he expresses elsewhere in sober, clear words and says: 'If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction. I will never forget your precepts, for by them you have given me life' (Ps 119:92).
"But he still retains the metaphor of the shepherd and the sheep, which is a common thing among all the prophets. For the Jews had their best food from sheep and other animals and commonly were shepherds, even as David himself and also the dear patriarchs were shepherds. Therefore this metaphor is often employed in Scripture.David, however, speaks of this matter in keeping with the nature of the country; the promised land is a hot, dry, sandy, stony land that has many deserts and little water. Therefore the Book of Genesis reports more than once how the shepherds of the heathen quarreled with the shepherds of the patriarchs about water (Gn 21:25; 26:19-22). They accordingly considered it a special treasure in that land when they could have water for their cattle. In our countries this is unknown, for there is enough water everywhere. David has looked at his land and cites as a special blessing that he is under the protection of the Lord, who not only feeds him in a green pasture but during the heat also leads him to the fresh water.
"In summary, he wishes to say this: As little as one can come to the knowledge of God and the truth and to the right faith without the Word of God, just so little can one find comfort and peace of conscience without it. The world has its comfort and joy, too, but these last only a moment; when anxiety and distress and especially the last hour comes, then it is as Solomon says: 'Even in laughter the heart may ache, and the end of joy may be grief' (Pro 14:13). But those who drink of this fresh and living water may indeed suffer affliction and distress in the world, but they will never lack genuine comfort. Especially when the moment of crisis comes, the page turns for them to the place where it says: 'After brief weeping comes eternal laughter; after a small sorrow comes glorious joy' (2Co 4:17). For they shall not weep and be sorrowful both here and there, but it will be as Christ says: 'Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh' (Lk 6:21)." 

 Martin Luther, Psalm 23, 23.2
Numbers 20:2-13
Now there was no water for the congregation. And they assembled themselves together against Moses and against Aaron. And the people quarreled with Moses and said, "Would that we had perished when our brothers perished before the LORD! Why have you brought the assembly of the LORD into this wilderness, that we should die here, both we and our cattle? And why have you made us come up out of Egypt to bring us to this evil place? It is no place for grain or figs or vines or pomegranates, and there is no water to drink." Then Moses and Aaron went from the presence of the assembly to the entrance of the tent of meeting and fell on their faces. And the glory of the LORD appeared to them, and the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, "Take the staff, and assemble the congregation, you and Aaron your brother, and tell the rock before their eyes to yield its water. So you shall bring water out of the rock for them and give drink to the congregation and their cattle." And Moses took the staff from before the LORD, as he commanded him.
Then Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly together before the rock, and he said to them, "Hear now, you rebels: shall we bring water for you out of this rock?" And Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock with his staff twice, and water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their livestock. And the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, "Because you did not believe in me, to uphold me as holy in the eyes of the people of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them." These are the waters of Meribah, where the people of Israel quarreled with the LORD, and through them he showed himself holy.  
Dearest Shepherd, always lead me to the clear waters of Your Word, even though I have often grumbled about its quality. Forgive me for my ungratefulness. Send Your Holy Spirit that I might recognize Your Word for what it is: the pure water of Israel flowing from Your pierced side. Amen.
For those who are bereaved of loved ones, as they continue to suffer grief from their loss, that the clear waters of God's Word would be their strength and stay
For all those who mourn for children who have left the life of Christ and have chosen to follow other gods, that they might remain steadfast in the faith and call their loved ones lovingly back to the fold of the God who loves them in Christ
For all public safety officers, that they might be strengthened in body and renewed in spirit as they protect their fellow citizens by thwarting those who do evil
Art: GRÜNEWALD, Matthias,  Resurrection (c. 1515)
Memorial Lutheran Church
© Scott Murray 2018
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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