“The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” Let anyone who hears this say, “Come.” Let anyone who is thirsty come. Let anyone who desires drink freely from the water of life.”
Revelation 22:17 NLT
Just a few verses before in Revelation 22, Jesus had given John an invitation. He said, “Look, I am coming soon, bringing my reward with me to repay all people according to their deeds.” (Revelation 22:12). And now the invitation rings out again. Loud and clear. There can be no excuse that people never heard it. After Jesus it is the turn of the Holy Spirit to say, “Come!”. And just to make sure, the bride also says, “Come!”. Of course, we know that the bride is the church – we have read much about the Bride of Christ in previous Revelation Scriptures. So we have an alliance, a partnership, between the Holy Spirit and the Church; an invitation from Spirit-filled churches is powerful. And the next invitation in verse 17 is from all who hear the “Come” and repeat it to those around them.
But those who respond to the invitation have to be thirsty. And the thirst must relate to the “water of life”, freely given by our wonderfully generous God. This “water of life” is the same drink Jesus promised the woman at the well. He said in John 4:14, “But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.” Jesus gave the invitation again in John 7:37-38, “On the last day, the climax of the festival, Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart’””. The invitation is there to be accepted. But as the old saying goes, “you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink”. Unless people are thirsty for this living water promised by Jesus, they won’t drink it. They prefer the worldly drinks, even as the woman at the well discovered, finding out that anything of the world never satisfies and leads to a life of enslavement to drudgery.
Verse 17 in Revelation 22 starts with “The Spirit and the bride”. Notice that it is not the church on its own extending the invitation. Neither is it the Holy Spirit who is just saying “Come”. It is a joint invitation from the Holy Spirit and the Church. This may be an obvious point, but without the Holy Spirit, a church cannot effectively ask people to come and drink of the living water offered by Jesus. This is a because a church without the Holy Spirit won’t have a supply of living water. It will be as dry and arid as any natural desert. Sadly, the Holy Spirit left many churches long ago, but the dwindling and elderly congregations are still offering what they don’t have. And those in the world find out that there is nothing there for them. Perhaps all churches should ask themselves the question, “Would we know if the Holy Spirit left us?” The answer to that question could fill a book on its own.
So we pilgrims, those of us who have already responded to the invitation to “Come”, who are already drinking of the life-giving water, must extend the invitation to those around us. There are plenty of thirsty people around – I meet some every day on my morning prayer walks. We pray for the opportunity to connect people’s spiritual thirst with the life-giving water. Only Jesus can turn on the tap. And only people can propagate the “Rivers of living water” that flow from God’s throne.
Dear Father God. We pray for a fresh filling of Your Holy Spirit today. We know You have more than enough living water to quench our thirsts. We are so grateful. Amen.