thirsty | John 7.37-39
On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. John 7.37-39 | ESV
Then it came. The last day of the Tentmaker feast. The grand finale closing ceremonies everyone was waiting for. During a pause in the water pouring ceremony, Jesus stood up and cried out at the top of his lungs, “If anyone is thirsty, come to me, and let everyone who puts their trust in me drink up! Just as the old books have said all along: “Rivers! Rivers from deep internal reservoirs within him will gush and cascade – refreshing, living water!” ––– Pause. A heads up for those of you who are wondering. All this living water talk? It was all about the Spirit which those who put their trust in him were going to receive. Down the road, of course. All of this was yet future. No Spirit. No water. Not yet. It all awaited the glorious consummation of his mission. MAV (Mike’s Amplified Version)
The final “great day” of the feast of Tabernacles saw multitudes of pilgrims ascending to the temple courtyards where over 800 priests and Levites were waiting to “process” all the sacrifices of the day. According to Alfred Edersheim, the multitude split into three groups proceeding to different areas of the temple courtyards for various observances, one of which was before the altar with a water and wine pouring ceremony, wine poured on one side, and water on the other – a ceremony that no doubt reminded them of the water that gushed from the rock in the desert as well as symbolized the future hoped for outpouring the of the Spirit as foretold by prophets like Joel. After the water and wine were poured, the crowd was led in a chanting of the Hallel – Psalms 113-118.
The pause after the pouring ceremony, after the chanting of the Hallel, is thought to be the point at which Jesus raises his voice in a cry that was no doubt as loud as his final cry of “It is finished!” on the cross.
IF ANYONE IS THIRSTY, LET HIM COME TO ME AND DRINK!
It’s as if he were shouting out to all that he was the rock in their barren desert. It’s a echoing invitation left hanging in the air of our own dry cultural and religious landscape.
We are so thirsty.
It’s the woman at the well revisited.
Every day coming to draw water.
And so we flock to our cultural and religious watering holes, dying to slake our thirst yet again. Often churches play to this and seek to build a dependency in people upon their water offerings.
“Come thirsty,” they say.
“Come to me and drink, and you’ll never thirst again,” Jesus says.
And more than that, “Come to me and drink, and not only never thirst again, but become a unstoppable source of supply and refreshment for others, for a dry and weary world.”
It was a common prophetic theme: when Messiah comes, “the desert will be turned into a fertile field.”
As Edersheim observes, “In Messianic times the Nabhi, ‘prophet,’ literally the ‘weller-forth’ of the Divine, should not be one or another select individual, but that He would pour out on all his handmaidens and servants of His Holy Spirit, and thus the moral wilderness of this world be changed into a fruitful garden.”
This is kingdom, Messiah, Holy Spirit talk, and as John makes the connection clear for his readers, he points out that it was still future for Jesus’ audience.
How sad that, practically speaking, it’s still future for so many of us in and out of the church.
But the invitation still echoes to us. “All who are thirsty, come…”
Where is your life a desert right now? To what extent are you experiencing “rivers of living water” flowing from within you? What would you say is the key to experiencing this?
Abba, with Jesus on the cross I confess, “I thirst.” Show we how and where to drink, and turn that drink in an unstoppable flow of your Spirit, your Kingdom in and through my life. Lead me to this place of many waters. Through Christ.