Revelation 22:1-5 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 through the middle of the street of the city. On either side of the river is the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. Nothing accursed will be found there any more. But the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him; they will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. And there will be no more night; they need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever......
Rev 22:17 The Spirit and the bride say, "Come." And let everyone who hears say, "Come." And let everyone who is thirsty come. Let anyone who wishes take the water of life as a gift.
John is shown “the river of the water of life”, crystal clear and flowing from God’s throne down the middle of the street. It irrigates the tree of life for the benefit of the nations that seek healing from it leaves. This vision draws on two biblical themes, "the tree of life" in the Garden of Eden (Gen 2:9), and Ezekiel's vision of water flowing from the temple in Jerusalem all the way down to the Dead Sea (Ezek 47:1-12).
As with much of the vision in Revelation, this has seen interpretation that covers the range from the responsibly reflective through to the bewilderingly batty. I am not adding to this. I do want to point out the startling invitation that concludes the vision: anyone is welcome to the water of life. The right to drink is not earned, for it is a gift. This echoes the invitation of Jesus that he will freely give “a spring of water gushing up to eternal life” (John 4:14).
This then is the invitation; come to Jesus and be refreshed, as if we have drunk the elixir of life itself. This offer is free to all who would respond. There is no charge, no course to be completed, and no ritual to perform – for the water of life is a gift.
For thought: Why, oh why, do we who have drunk freely from the cup of life, seek to deny other people the same opportunity unless they drink from the cup according our religious rules?.
The Eighth Sunday after EpiphanyProtected by God
Scripture reading taken from A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and Other Servants p.95