The Significance of water | Salvation, Judgement, Cleansing and Baptism

At first glance, there is nothing striking about water. It makes up much of our planet and we need it to survive. Because of its ubiquitous nature, we are prone to think of it as normal and pedestrian in nature. Not least in our baptism, the most ordinary of things in one sense, making the most extraordinary claim. A dunking in water, allowing resurrection power to be signed and sealed. water plays out in a multitude of ways and even plays an important symbolic and sacramental part in the Christian story;

Think about water in the Old testament.
– It was the resting place for the Holy Spirit before creation. The place and symbol of un-curated creation.
– It was the judgement of the world in Noah’s time. Cleansing the earth, leaving only Noah’s family and the animals as God’s chosen people to whom the dove returns with a sign of peace from God.
– Moses staff (a tree of sorts) removed the bitterness from the waters of Marah.
– It was moved by God to make a way of salvation for Israel at the red sea and then returned to its origin as a dramatic sign of judgement for Pharaoh’s army.

and so we turn to water in the life of Jesus;

  • In his baptism where he was drowning his identity to side with John the Baptists call to repent.
  • As the dove symbolises God’s choseness and his peace. Echoing that Jesus, in fact may be some form of ark too?
  • changes water into wine.
  • invites all who are thirsty to drink of living water.
  • encourages anyone who is willing to offer a cup of cold water to a disciple in need (Mt 10:42)
  • recovers his strength at a samaritan well
  • walks on water
  • washes his disciples feet.

During the Passion;

  • Pilate washes his hands with after surrendering Christ to the cross
  • blood and water flow from Christ’s pierced side.

In the way that we call Jesus, the second Adam; many early church fathers looked to the baptised as the second eve. Eve was made from the side of Adam and the church is borne, they surmised, from the water and blood which poured from Jesus’ side. At once a literal and figurative, river of living water coming from His in most being.

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