Water and The Holy Spirit

by Deacon Lorna Goodison on May 25, 2023

A dove, a mighty rushing wind, a tongue of fire, a cloud.  These are some of the very dramatic ways that the Holy Spirit is presented in the New Testament. But the gospel this Pentecost, (John 7:37-39) focuses on a less dramatic yet very powerful symbol of the Holy Spirit: water. Water is essential for life. The human body is said to be made up of seventy-five percent water. In the second creation story (Genesis 2), before plants were created, God prepared the way for plants and humanity’s life by means of “a stream that would rise from the earth and water the whole face of the ground.” Without water, we are parched and cry out for thirst. Spiritually, thirsting is a symbol of our inner yearnings. Psalm 42 declares, “As the deer longs for the water brooks, so longs my soul for you O God. My soul is athirst for God, athirst for the living God.”

         In the gospel, Jesus is in Jerusalem attending the Feast of Booths. This feast culminated in a celebratory water-pouring ceremony in remembrance of the occasion when God’s people were in dire need of water. They kept complaining to Moses who struck the rock with his rod and water gushed out. God miraculously provided water to quench the people’s thirst (Exodus 17:7). Against this background, Jesus authoritatively declared, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and let the one who believes in me drink.” Jesus openly revealed His divinity and offered an invitation to all who confess spiritual thirst, an inner yearning for something more, for God Himself. His command is “Come” and believe, “drink.” Drinking is an image of faith. We trust in the water we drink. How much more can we trust Jesus and ingest His truth? In return for faith, Jesus promised not physical water, but living water. “Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water,” Jesus spoke of the Holy Spirit which believers would receive after His glorification.  

          Jesus Himself became the true and greater rock who was struck down on the cross but rose again in glory, pouring out not literal water but the life-renewing water of the Holy Spirit. This water cleanses us and gives us new hearts that beat with love. Jesus promised not small streams but rivers of living water; the Spirit in abundance to support us, intercede for us, comfort us, uplift us, and lead us into the way of eternal life with God. Living in the Spirit’s abundance, we choose Christ and not the false waters of the world to satisfy our thirst.

         As we celebrate the outpouring of living water, the Holy Spirit, we contemplate sacred scriptures and are absolutely convinced that Christ is steadfastly trustworthy. He promised that He would send the Holy Spirit, and He kept His word. Our celebration, therefore, culminates in praise and thanksgiving for Christ’s faithful, abiding love for all. He never leaves us comfortless. “Bless the Lord, O my soul. Hallelujah!”

Tags: faith, water, eternal life, thirst, living water, water of life, spiritual thirst, life-renewing

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