On the final and climactic day of the Feast, Jesus took his stand. He cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Rivers of living water will brim and spill out of the depths of anyone who believes in me this way, just as the Scripture says.” (He said this in regard to the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were about to receive. The Spirit had not yet been given because Jesus had not yet been glorified.) The Message.

N.T. Wright writes:

“The great vision of the New Jerusalem at the end of the Book of Revelation is a vision of ultimate beauty. The word beauty doesn’t occur much in the Bible, but the celebration of creation all the way from Genesis, through the Psalms and prophets, on into the Gospels and here in Revelation, should alert us to the fact that, though the ancient Jewish people did not theorize about beauty like the Greeks did (that’s another story, and a fascinating one, though not for today), they knew a great deal about it and poured their rich aesthetic sensibility not only into poetry but also into one building in particular: the temple in Jerusalem, whose legendary beauty inspired poets, musicians, and dancers alike. This is the temple where YHWH’s glory is glimpsed, not as a retreat from the world but as a foretaste of what is promised for the whole world. In the great vision of John, the temple has disappeared because the whole city has become a temple; the point of the city is not that it is a place of retreat from a wicked world but that its new life is poured out into the whole world, to refresh and heal it.”

I have italicised that last part of the extract, because it reminds me that even now, however imperfectly, Jesus has arranged for there to be an outflow of life, from the believer (and the church) into the world – an outflow of light into darkness, of life into the land of death, of vitality affecting barrenness. No-one can properly defend themselves against this Holy Spirit reality. The abundant ‘living water’ wets (even soaks) them, whether they like it or not; believe in it or not; want it or not.

In Ezekiel 47:1-12, the prophet has a vision of water gushing out from the temple. Verses 8-10 read like this in ‘The Message’:

He told me, “This water flows east, descends to the Arabah and then into the sea, the sea of stagnant waters. When it empties into those waters, the sea will become fresh. Wherever the river flows, life will flourish—great schools of fish—because the river is turning the salt sea into fresh water. Where the river flows, life abounds. Fishermen will stand shoulder to shoulder along the shore from En Gedi all the way north to En-eglaim, casting their nets. The sea will teem with fish of all kinds, like the fish of the Great Mediterranean.

It remains forever true that “Wherever the river flows, life will flourish…Where the river flows, life abounds.”

I am reminded of a young man, raised in a Christian home, who had lived, for a time, as a ‘prodigal.’ He said, ‘In all the years of my rebellion I could not get away from the reality of Jesus Christ in my father.’

‘Living water!’