Secondly, John gives us this description after Jesus’ death:
But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water. (Jn 19v33-34)
On Good Friday Michelle gave us a fascinating insight into the medical facts behind this episode linked to the brutal horrors of crucifixion.
John also has his eyes on an ancient echo of the scriptures firstly drawing on the prophecies of the Psalms and Zechariah and secondly from Ezekiel. Ezekiel has a dramatic vision of a glorious ‘Spiritual Temple’. The Old Temple at that time had been destroyed. From Chapter 40 he outlines this temple in all its splendour. In Chapter 47 Ezekiel gives an account of the River coming from the temple:
The man brought me back to the entrance to the temple, and I saw water coming out from under the threshold of the temple toward the east (for the temple faced east). The water was coming down from under the south side of the temple, south of the altar. 2 He then brought me out through the north gate and led me around the outside to the outer gate facing east, and the water was trickling from the south side.
This river continues into the sea where it turns the salt water (a symbol of death) into fresh water. Swarms of living creatures come into life wherever the water goes. Life appears abundantly. Fruit trees grow on the banks of the river and their fruit will not fail nor their leaves wither. Their fruit will serve for food and their leaves for healing. This vision is repeated again in Revelation 22, however John is not unaware that Jesus is the New Temple from where the River finds its source. The presence of God is now flowing out into all the world through the pierced, broken and humiliated body of Jesus. John describes the Cross as the moment when God is glorified. The Glory of God is no longer hidden in the Temple but is now demonstrated on the Cross and from his side flows the River of Life that sustains and nourishes all.
What do our communities look like when refreshed by the River of Life? What do our lives, families and local areas look like? What can we do to be and bring the River of Life where we are?