And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that hears say, Come. And let him that is thirsty come. And whoever will…
It is all important, would we win men's hearts for God, that we represent him as having good will towards them. If we let men think of him as hard, unloving, indifferent, or unjust, not all the threatenings in the world will win them. Man can only love that which he conceives as lovable. Now, this well known and most precious verso renders great service in this direction. Were a man to pick it up from off the streets, he would gather this much at any rate, even supposing he knew nothing of its writer or meaning, that whoever wrote it was in earnest for the good of those for whom it was written. And studying it attentively, with the added light of other Scriptures, the evidence of this good will becomes full and clear indeed. For note -
I. THE GIFT OFFERED. "The water of life." It is the constant symbol of the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. That grace which:
1. As water, cleanses. It is a river of water of life; no mere circumscribed shallow pool or tiny rill, but a river, full, flowing, in which a man may "wash and be clean." Now, the putting away of our sin, our spiritual defilement, is through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. "We have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of our sins."
2. As water, revives and strengthens. In hot Eastern lands, where water was so much more precious than with us, because they had so little whilst we have so much, this emblem of water had more force of meaning than it has to us. The wearied traveller, faint and ready to perish, "drank of the brook by the way," and "lifted up his head" (cf. Hagar and Ishmael). And the meaning, therefore, of this word is that Christ's grace, as water revives, strengthens the soul.
3. And, as a river of living water, abides. A pool, a shallow stream, dries up, but a river goes on forever. The permanence, therefore, of the grace of Christ is thus set forth.
4. And this gift is the very one man needs. A gift may be ever so valuable, but if I do not want it I do not feel the love which offers it. But if I do need it, if it be the very gift of all others which I need, then he who comes to me with just that does show his good will. And thus is it with this gift. It is no mere temporary and temporal gift, but one eternal and spiritual, suited to me as an immortal being destined to dwell in the presence of God. Seeing what a shred of my entire existence is my life here, would it have been a token of real love for me if, instead of that which is given, I had been granted all manner of mere earthly good? But "God commendeth his love towards us," not only in the gift he offers, but in -
II. THE MANNER OF THE OFFERING. For:
1. The invitation is repeatedly given. The Spirit, the bride, and every one who hears, is to say, "Come." An immense significance lies in the manner of an invitation. One can learn much as to the sincerity of him who gives it by noting how he gives it. It, then, he repeat it; again and again, as this invitation is repeated, I cannot doubt as to the real desire that it should be accepted. And this is seen:
2. In the messengers who are entrusted to give this invitation. They are so well qualified to give it effectually.
(1) The Spirit. He is in full sympathy with the Giver of it. He is the Holy Spirit of God. A messenger may nullify the effect of a message if he have no sympathy with him who sends it; but if he have such sympathy, is, as the giver, deeply desirous that it should be accepted, then with what force will he urge it! And so it is here. Does he not urge it on us, plead with us to accept it? We know he does. And he has skill and tact to urge it wisely and effectually. Ah! what clumsy messengers we often are who have to give this message! What mistakes we make! How faultily and imperfectly we do our work! But he, the blessed Spirit of God, makes no such mistake. He knows when, where, and how to best urge on us this message of God's great love. And he has, too, knowledge of our character and circumstances. He will not address one character in a way suited only to another, as we often do. lie will not come at a most unfit time, but will choose the best time. And he has constant access to us. When the doors of the church are closed, the Sunday over, and the sacred services have come to an end; when the preacher and those to whom he speaks have separated - he shut off from them and they from him; then the Spirit of God can come to us, does come oftentimes, in the silence of the night, in the intervals of business, in lonely, quiet hours when none but he can come. Thus qualified is one of these messengers who are sent. Does not the sending of such a messenger prove the sincerity of him who sends the message? Then:
(2) The bride. She also is to say, "Come." And who is the bride, but the company of Christ's redeemed, they who know by actual experience the preciousness and the power of this "water of life "? He who hath taken of this water knows its life giving power. They can tell what Christ has done for them. It was the healed ones who, when our Lord was here on earth, sent multitudes more to him. And they are bidden do the like now. They are to say to the yet unhealed, "Come." And they are prompted to do this by mighty motives - gratitude, compassion, desire for Christ's approval, which depends upon their fidelity to this commission.
(3) And him that heareth is to repeat the message. If this direction had but been obeyed, heathendom would not now be so vast as it is, nor will it long continue so if we now will but obey this word. What more could he, whose message it is, have done to secure its promulgation and its acceptance?
3. The form of the message. It is "Come," not "Go" It means that they who deliver it are first to go themselves, and then bid others come likewise. Many are perpetually saying to others, "Go;" but if they do not come themselves, those others are not likely to heed their word. The Scotch mother, in the well known engraving, wanting her child to cross the brawling stream, goes first herself, and shows her where to put her trembling feet, now on this stone and now on that and that, and so the timid little one, seeing her mother go first, comes after her. Parents, so must it be with you and your children if you want them to be brought to Christ. You must go first, and say, "Come," and then they will follow.
III. THE WAY IN WHICH HINDRANCES TO ITS BEING ACCEPTED ARE MET AND PROVIDED AGAINST. Such hindrances are:
1. Doubts as to who are invited. But such doubts are met by "Whosoever will." None can shut themselves out of that "whosoever." But it is added, "and let him that is athirst." Such are very often the last to believe that the water of life is for them. Their very need and longing make them think such an offer as this is "too good to be true." And by this special reference to them this doubt is tact; cf. the angel's word on Easter Day, "Go tell his disciples and Peter," He was the one who most of all needed and longed to know that he had not lost utterly his Lord's love; and the Lord knew that, and so sent a special message to him. And so it is here; the "athirst" are specially called.
2. Requirement of qualifications. Were such demanded, many could not come, but everybody can take a gift. Hence it is said, let him take "freely."
3. Doubt as to motives. How many distress themselves by scrutinizing the motives which lead them to desire the Lord's grace! "Have I repented enough, prayed enough, felt the evil of sin enough," etc.? But no question will be asked as to motives. It is "whosoever will." No matter how you came to will, to desire, the water of life, whether it were hope or fear, or you know not what, all that is needed is that you should desire it, and there it is for you.
1. Does not God by all this commend his love to us?
2. Shall we not come at once?
3. If we never come, whose fault will it be? - S. C.
Parallel VersesKJV: And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.