The life-giving waters that flow from the Temple in Ezekiel’s vision stand in stark contrast with the still waters of the pool of Bethesda, inert waters that bear silent witness to the life-giving power of Jesus’ healing word. The flowing Temple waters of Ezekiel’s vision, like Jesus’ word to the paralytic, break the bondage of exile and restore life where before there had been only death. The flowing waters revealed to Ezekiel, continually renew and turn salt waters fresh and cause life to burst forth, both in the sea and all around it, generating life, nourishment, and healing: “Along both banks of the river, fruit trees of every kind shall grow… Every month they shall bear fresh fruit… Their fruit shall serve for food, and their leaves for medicine.”
The life-giving waters that flow from the Temple, like the word of healing and mercy spoken by Jesus, release the healing power of the Spirit of God, promising an end to exile for the people of Israel, and restoring fullness of life to the paralytic’s limbs and the very depths of his spirit. Jesus’ life-giving word is the echo of his very Self, the Word of God made flesh by the power of the Spirit.
Do we beg daily for the grace to profoundly hear this word – and so receive this Word – so that the life-giving waters of the Spirit might free us from the bondage of exile and alienation, restore life to our limbs, and empower us to credibly witness to what we have been graciously given? As preachers, do we dare allow this Word to liberate us, for the sake of the liberation of others? As we continue the desert journey of Lent, let us remember the Word who leads us forward to freedom, and may we hold fast to the promise of the life-giving waters that await us on the other side of Easter.