Water As Good News

blue water

Water is an important motif used throughout God’s story in Scripture. In the beginning, God’s Spirit was hovering over the waters, (Genesis 1:2) before Father, Spirit and Son created order out of chaos. In the end, God declares these trustworthy and true words via his servant John, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment. The one who conquers will have this heritage, and I will be his God and he will be my son.” (Revelation 21:6-8)

A motif is defined as a usually recurring, important thematic element in a story or book that has symbolic significance. I think the author of the Fourth Gospel, likely the apostle John, was mesmerized by God’s identification with water throughout the Hebrew Scriptures. From its creative significance to its redemptive and cleansing power to its prophetic importance, water was synonymous with the Spirit of God, promised to be poured out on His people. As an aging John set out to pen a very unique gospel account in the late first century, he seemed to want to tell the story of his beloved friend and Lord, Jesus, from a deeply personal yet spiritually rich perspective. He aimed to reveal Jesus as God, uniquely Son, intimately connected with Father and Spirit, and used literary techniques to signify what cannot be explained by words alone, His glory! One of many literary techniques employed by John, the motif of water as a symbolic and thematic element representing God’s Spirit, was used to accomplish this task.

John’s origin story of Jesus parallels God’s origin story in Genesis beautifully. In the beginning, God created with spoken words. (Ge 1:1-2:3) In the beginning was the Word…He was in the beginning with God and all things were made through him. (John 1:1-3) In the beginning, God said into the chaos of darkness, “Let there be light, and there was light (before there was a sun.)” (Ge 1:1-3) John said, “The light (Jesus/the Word) shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:5) As the Spirit of God hovered over the waters of Genesis 1, God’s Spirit hovered over the baptismal waters of Jesus and descended and remained on Jesus as he began his ministry. (John 1:32-34) As the writer of Genesis describes 7 days of creation, so John, in his first chapter, marks 7 days in the life of Jesus (from John 1:19-2:1), leading us to the first miraculous sign in John 2, pointing to God’s glory.

In Genesis, God separated the waters below from the waters above (where His Spirit had hovered) with an expanse called Heaven. (Genesis 1:6-8) In John, this divide between heaven and earth was bridged by the divine Word made flesh and dwelling among us, so that all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, born not of blood or the will of the flesh nor man, but the will of God. (John 1:10-13)

What amazingly good news, a gospel that I want to drink in, be filled with, and overflow with in songs of praise! (Ephesians 5:18-21) As we seek out the motif of water through the pages of John’s gospel, may we allow the Spirit of God to penetrate our hearts and minds as we witness the glory of God!

Good Art

picture

Good art speaks. By nature of its designer’s line, color choices, stylistic nuance, or interpretation, a painting or symphony or story is able to take on its own life, revealing something new each time it is absorbed. People bring their unique knowledge, experiences, and emotions to art and look through a very personal lens into its depths. People often see and hear new things every time they read a book or look into a painting, as their understandings of their world and their own perceptions change and grow.

The Bible is like a gallery full of art, or a library full of books, all telling a singular story, a grand epic, about God and his people. It is a collection of literature, made up of poetry, prose, music, speeches, letters of correspondence and remembered and recorded history, divinely gathered and breathed to life by the very Spirit of God. It reflects both the divine nature of the God that inspired it and the human nature of the flesh that spoke it, penned it, heard it, corroborated it, copied it, told it, sang it, gathered it, validated it, and translated it. It speaks the very word of God with us (Father, Son, and Spirit) from beginning to end. It is as alive as those who engage it and apply it. James says it is like a mirror that reveals what humans really look like. The great preacher of Hebrews proclaims the Word of God as sharper than any sword, a word of promise and rest and yet a discerning word of judgment that can expose the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.  The Bible is to be read with the mind and the heart, engaged over and over again with a soul hungry and thirsty for the God it reveals.

It is my intent to look into this library and appreciate its art while growing in my relationship with my Father, through Jesus Christ and by the Holy Spirit. I yearn to drink and be satisfied by living water. I believe that God will speak through the pages of Scripture and through the people in whom He’s chosen to dwell as we read and think and communicate with one another through this blog. We’ll start in a book full of literary depth, rich metaphor, and poetic beauty, whose author’s clear intent was to reveal this God with us as Jesus, the Christ, the son of God, the way back to the Father, the only one who can offer life, true, abundant and eternal, and his own Spirit to guide the way. Let’s gaze into the Gospel of John and listen to God speak.

To whet our thirst and prepare our minds, here’s a great clip by N.T. Wright about approaching the good news of God, the gospel: