The River in the Garden [00:00-00:44]

Jon: If you go out into a desert, you’ll see why it's one of the most deadly, uninhabitable places on the planet. It’s dry, and where there’s no water, there’s no life.

Tim: This is the picture that we get on page two of Genesis. The story begins with a dry and desolate wilderness1, but God provides a spring in the desert that becomes a source of life for plants and animals2.

Jon: And that’s where God brings together a man and a woman, so that humanity can flourish and spread the life of the garden3.

Tim: Exactly. And that garden spring becomes a river that flows out to water the entire world. And there can be enough for everyone; it’s all a gift from God.

Jon: And this is great––humans in a lush garden. But as it turns out, they find a way to ruin it.

Humanity in the Wilderness [00:45-01:22]

Tim: Right. Despite all of this water God’s provided, it’s like they still have a drought deep inside of them. This is an image of the human condition, how we’re always thirsty for more.

Jon: But more of what?

Tim: Well, in this story, the humans want more wisdom to create more security and more control on their own terms4. And tragically, it only leaves them more thirsty and suspicious of each other, and so they end up back in the wilderness5.

Jon: The humans have lost access to the water of life.

Tim: And because of that, they can’t spread God’s life into the world.

Jon: And so God needs to rescue them from the wilderness.

Jacob at the Well [01:23-02:11]

Tim: Yeah, like in the story of Jacob. His selfish scheming ruined his family relationships, so he has to run from his problems out into the wilderness. But there he finds a well, and he meets a woman6.

Jon: This is like Eden––a man and a woman together by a source of water.

Tim: Right! And then through Jacob, God creates the family of Israel. And he invites them to share in his own life, so that they can be his partners in spreading that life to others. And sometimes they do this.

Jon: But ultimately they struggle with the same drought of the soul, thirsting for more power, more control. And it leads them down a path of violence and self-ruin.

Tim: And so they find themselves in a new wilderness, captive to other nations.

Jon: All this effort to quench our own thirst on our own terms, it’s killing us.

Promise of the Prophets [02:12-02:35]

Tim: Yeah, the biblical prophet Ezekiel described Israel in exile as a pile of dry bones scattered in a desert valley7. But, he said, one day God will pour out his own life presence, his Spirit, to water the land, to create a new Eden and new kinds of humans8.

Jon: People who can spread God’s life to others.

Tim: Exactly, and so this brings us to the story of Jesus.

Jesus: Living Water [02:36-04:29]

Jon: Right! And there’s a story about Jesus, who goes to a well that Jacob used to own9.

Tim: And just like in Jacob’s story, Jesus meets a woman, and he tells this woman that no matter how much water she drinks from this well, she’ll always thirst for more. Then he offers water that could quench her thirst forever10.

Jon: He’s not talking about the well water.

Tim: No. What he was talking about is God’s own life that comes through him, to us, to satisfy our deepest thirsts. This is why later on Jesus said, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink.”11

Jon: This is cool, but it’s also a strange image––drinking from a person?

Tim: Totally. And it’s connected to another strange image we find in the story of Jesus’ death on the cross.

Jon: A Roman soldier thrusts a spear into Jesus’ side, and there’s blood. But also, all this water flows out12.

Tim: Yes. It’s an image showing how Jesus’ death is a fountain of life. From him, God’s own love, that would die for his enemies, flows down and out into the world.

Jon: After Jesus was raised from the dead, we’re told that he sends the Spirit into his followers13.

Tim: Yes, to fill them up with God’s own life. This is why the apostle Paul said that when we join the current of God’s Spirit, the fruit of Eden starts growing in us: love and joy, patience and kindness, gentleness and self-control14.

Jon: People like that can create beautiful things in the world that bring life to others.

Tim: Yes, like little streams of God’s life that can come together and point forward to the beautiful scene that we find on the last page of the Bible.

Jon: There’s a new river of life.

Tim: Yes. It’s flowing out from God and into a renewed creation, bringing life to all wherever it goes15.

1. Genesis 1:2
2. Genesis 2:10-14
3. Genesis 2:15
4. Genesis 3:1-7
5. Genesis 3:22-24
6. Genesis 29
7. Ezekiel 37:1-2
8. Ezekiel 37:26-27, 47
9. John 4:1-45
10. John 4:10
11. John 7:37
12. John 19:34
13. Acts 1:8
14. Galatians 5:16-26
15. Revelation 22:1-3
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