Written by Adam Hardy - Associate Minister (Reader) of Rotherfield with Mark Cross
As I sit down to write this, we are approaching Pentecost the occasion where the Holy Spirit descends on the disciples causing them to speak in tongues. One of the readings that traditionally associated with Pentecost includes the following Verses from the gospel of John:
‘On the last day of the festival, the great day, while Jesus was standing there, he cried out, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink. As the Scriptures has said, ‘Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water.”’
Bishop Tom Wright, in his writings on this passage, tells us about his journey to the Middle East to view the location where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered. He explains that his host was anxious for all in his party, making sure they drunk enough water during the trek. They were told “A pint of water every hour, and don’t forget!”. Tom, coming as he did from a cool and damp climate, explains how easy it can be to forget how important it was to drink plenty of water.
He goes on to say, that in that kind of climate all sorts of things in the Bible suddenly make sense. Most of the Bible, after all was written in the Middle East, where much of the land is desert and water is quite simply the number-one requirement wherever you go. If a town or tribe has a good water supply, from a stream or a spring or well, it can thrive; if it hasn’t, it can’t.
To people living in this area during the time Jesus was preaching, ‘Living Water’ was the regular way of referring to running water. Very simply water equalled life. Jesus is therefore saying that anyone that drinks from him will have eternal life.
The events of Pentecost laid out in Acts 2 v 1-13; talk about a rushing wind encompassing the Disciples and how they become filled with the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit filling them up, flowing through them and out of them gifted them with the spiritual life and security to spread the message to people of all nations and cultures, bearing whatever dangers and fears they came across on the way. Indeed, some went to their death with the gift of the Holy Spirit flowing forth from them.
The gift of the Holy Spirit is one only Jesus can give but it is a gift worth waiting for! Even the Disciples had to wait for the gift Jesus promised.
I genuinely believe that our faith in Christ fills us with the Holy Spirit. God has a plan for each one of us to allow the Living Water to keep flowing, bubbling up within us and overflowing to quench the spiritual thirst we find so readily in society today.