The invitation is to "take . . . without price." Jesus wants no payment or preparation. He seeks no recommendation from our virtuous emotions. If you have no good feelings, but if you are willing, you are invited; therefore come! If you have no belief and no repentance, come to Him, and He will give them to you. Come just as you are, and take without money and without price. He gives Himself to the needy.
In nineteenth-century Britain the drinking fountains at the corners of the streets were valuable institutions; it would have been a strange and foolish sight to see someone standing at the fountain declaring, "I cannot drink because I do not have any money." However poor an individual may be, there is the fountain, and just as he is, he may drink of it without cost. Thirsty passengers, as they go by, whether they are dressed poorly or expensively, do not look for any authorization to drink; the existence of the fountain is sufficient warrant for taking its water freely. The generosity of some good friends has put in place the refreshing supply, and we take it and ask no questions.
Perhaps the only people who go thirsty through the street where there is a drinking fountain are the fine ladies and gentlemen who are in their carriages. They are very thirsty but cannot think of being so vulgar as to get out to drink. It would demean them, they think, to drink at a common drinking fountain: so they ride by with parched lips.
How many there are who are rich in their own good works and cannot therefore come to Christ! "I will not be saved," they say, "in the same way as the prostitute or the blasphemer." What! Go to heaven in the same way as a chimney sweep? Is there no pathway to glory but the path that led the dying thief there? I will not be saved that way. Such proud boasters must remain without the living water; but "Let the one who desires take the water of life without price."