Paradise Renewed and the Water of Life

Christ Covenant Church
Jon Marq Toombs
4 June 2017
Revelation 22:1-6, 17, 21 
Pentecost Sunday

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Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2 through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. 3 No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. 4 They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. 5 And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever. 6 And he said to me, “These words are trustworthy and true. And the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent his angel to show his servants what must soon take place.” 17 The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.  21 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.

Intro:

Water of life stands in contrast to the lake of fire – which is the second death.

The river is the Spirit who flows from the Father and the Son and fills the new heavens and new earth.

What one tree wounded, the other tree healed: “The leaves of the tree of life are for the healing of the nations and there is no more any curse.” (Rev. 22:2-5)

Echoes of the Gospel of John

“Behold, here is the Spring of the Water of Life! Come and drink freely!”

That proclamation of grace and truth was not just for the Jews at the temple, it is also for us. For you and for me.

Jesus said this about the Holy Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to going to receive (after Jesus was crucified, raised, and glorified).

When Jesus was baptized the Spirit descended from heaven on him like a dove. And a prophet said, “This is the One who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.”

From there we see that Jesus is the one who told Nicodemus, “You must be born of water and the Spirit” — which means God will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your unclean things, and from all your idols he will cleanse you. And he will give you a new heart, and a new spirit he will put within you. (John 3:5; Ezekiel 36:25-29)

Jesus is the one who speaks the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure. (John 3:34)

Jesus is the one who told the Samaritan woman, “Everyone who drinks of this earthly water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the heavenly water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The heavenly water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:13-14 ESV)

Jesus is the one who told a lame man who could not get into healing waters to get up and walk. (John 5:1ff)

Throughout John’s Gospel, Jesus is portrayed as the giver of the water of life which is the Holy Spirit.

And now, here in the New Jerusalem, at the new city-temple, in a new Garden, we see Jesus offering living water to all who thirst for relief, rescue, renewal.

“If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’”

Jesus fulfills what the prophets foretold:

On that day living waters shall flow out from Jerusalem, half of them to the eastern sea and half of them to the western sea. (Zechariah 14:6-9 ESV)

I give water in the wilderness, rivers in the desert, to give drink to my chosen people, the people whom I formed for myself that they might declare my praise.(Isaiah 43:19-21 ESV)

Fear not, O Israel my servant, whom I have chosen. For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour my Spirit upon your children (lit. seed), and my blessing on your descendants. (Isaiah 44:2-4 ESV)

The bottom line is this: Jesus is the one who promises to give the Holy Spirit to anyone and everyone who is thirsty enough to turn and trust in him as Savior, Lord, and Christ. Including you.

Are you thirsty?

I have known many thirsty people in my life. People who are so thirsty for adventure, comfort, pleasure, companionship, relief, they will do almost anything to slake their thirst.

Everything (that is) except the one thing they need to do.

The problem is that most of us seem to be so easily satisfied with momentary and temporary relief options.

Shopping for the next new dress, looking at the next naked image, watching the next episode, drinking the next strong drink, reaching the next game level, achieving the next promotion, taking the next drug, making the next risky investment, earning the next advanced degree, hiding the next affair, going on the next vacation, losing the next weight level, seeing the next youtube video, reading the next book, downloading the next song, cashing the next check, whatever.

We waste ourselves on things that never satisfy and always leave us thirsting for more.

Like so many people in the world, we chase after mirages in the desert and end up choking on the dust and ashes of our illusions. We chase our own self-centered desires, but end up crashing and burning in the wasteland.

The difference is that our “expert guide” does not expect us to make the trek through the wasteland on our own. He knows we are not able to travel even a short distance by ourselves. He does not expect us to accomplish getting to the water and rest by ourselves. He helps those who cannot help themselves.

He comes to us with the Spirit, and he carries us to streams of living water. He gives life to those who are dying of thirst, because he knows what it is like to die of thirst.

That is why Jesus says, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink.”

He offers to become thirsty so that the thirsty may have water.

He offers to give the Holy Spirit to everyone who was dying of thirst — and yet, when people heard these words of life they often start talking (and arguing!) about politics, religion, and sports.

There is no revival, no renewal, no refreshment, no response.

At the end of the day, people simply go back to doing what they were already doing: drinking from their own cisterns, stagnant pools, and mud holes.

Like their forefathers, they commit two evils: they cast aside the fountain of living waters, and they carved out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water. (Jer. 2:13)

My fear is that you will do the same thing; that you are not thirsty enough to drink from the fountain of living waters; to delight yourself in Jesus, the gospel, grace and truth, and things of the Spirit.

My fear is that we will quickly rush back into discussion about politics, religion, and sports; restaurants, shows, and other trivial matters; that we will slowly but surely turn away from Christ, and be consumed by the world and its desires.

You and I know that we are thirsty. But contrary to popular advertising, there’s no need to stay thirsty my friends.

In C.S. Lewis’ book, The Silver Chair, there is a fantastic story of thirst and water. In Chapter 2, a girl named Jill Pole finds herself lost in a strange world. Her friend Eustace has “gone away” (because she knocked him off a cliff) and she is hiding from a lion. Eustace’s screams echo in her memory. She cries to the point of dehydration and feels dreadfully thirsty. Off in the distance she hears the sound of running water and cautiously moves towards it. The story goes like this:

She came to an open glade and saw the stream, bright as glass, running across the turf a stone’s throw away. But although the sight of the water made her feel ten times thirstier than before, she didn’t rush forward and drink. She stood still as if she had been turned into stone, with her mouth wide open. And she had a good reason: just on this side of the stream lay the Lion.

She was so afraid she could not move or take her eyes off the Lion. But after what seemed like hours, her fear of dying of thirst nearly overcomes her fear of being eaten by a lion.

Suddenly, the Lion spoke to her and said, “If you are thirsty, you may drink. If you are thirsty, come and drink.”

Jill was dying of thirst, but now she was too afraid of the Lion to take a drink. She asked the Lion to go away, but he answered with a low growl and did not budge.

The delicious rippling noise of the stream was driving her nearly frantic.

So Jill asked, “Will you promise not to do anything to me, if I do come?”

But the Lion said, “I make no promise.”

“Do you eat girls?” she said.

“I have swallowed up girls and boys, women and men, kings and emperors, cities and realms,” said the Lion. It didn’t say this as if it were boasting, nor as if it were sorry, nor as if it were angry. It just said it.

Then Jill said,  “I daren’t come and drink.”

“Then you will die of thirst,” said the Lion.

“Oh dear!” said Jill, coming another step nearer.  “I suppose I must go and look for another stream then.”

“There’s no other stream,” said the Lion.

It never occurred to Jill to disbelieve the Lion–no one who had seen his stern face could do that–and her mind suddenly made itself up. It was the worst thing she had ever had to do, but she went forward to the stream, knelt down, and began scooping water in her hand. It was the coldest, most refreshing water she had ever tasted. You didn’t need to drink much of it, for it quenched your thirst at once.`

In the story of the Bible, thirst is portrayed as a sign of curses, faith-testing, physical need, exile, and deep spiritual longing. All these come together in Jesus’s thirst on the cross.

At the cross, Jesus was thirsty, but he thirsted for much more than earthly water.

His soul thirsted for God, for the living God (Psa. 42:2).

He thirsted for his Father,
his whole being longed for him,
in a dry land where there was no water (Psa 63:1).

He spread out his hands to the Father;
and thirsted for him like a parched land (Psa 143:6).

At the cross, Jesus was thirsty and he died of thirst.

Jesus was cursed to a waterless death so that you might blessed with the water of life.

Jesus gave us living water from above to deliver us from the stagnant waters from below.

Jesus died thirsty so that you who thirst might drink deeply and thirst no more.

Jesus poured out the water of life to save you from the dust of death.

This is his promise: To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. (Revelation 21:6 ESV)

So let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who desires take the water of life freely without price. (Revelation 22:17 ESV)

How? All you have to do is ask for it in Jesus’s name.

17 The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.  21 The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all. Amen.

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