37On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. 38Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” 39By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified. 40On hearing his words, some of the people said, “Surely this man is the Prophet.” 41Others said, “He is the Christ.” Still others asked, “How can the Christ come from Galilee? 42Does not the Scripture say that the Christ will come from David’s family and from Bethlehem, the town where David lived?” 43Thus the people were divided because of Jesus. 44Some wanted to seize him, but no one laid a hand on him.
The debate raged on for yet another day of the Feast. On the last day Jesus made matters worse for those attending the feast by standing up and shouting: If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. He has said that those who would follow him must eat his flesh and drink his blood (John 6). He has told a Samaritan woman: “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water” (John 4). He has told that crowd of bread-eaters, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty” (John 5). Now he says it again in John 7: I am the thirst quencher. If you want a truly satisfying drink, come to Jesus. If you truly desire your parched throat to be slaked, come to Jesus. When nothing satisfies, come to Jesus. Or, don’t wait until you are thirsty: Come to Jesus and never experience thirst.
This is nothing new. It has been said in Scripture before and it will be said again. Thirst is a basic need for humans and who can satisfy it here on earth? I drink 4 to 5 bottles of water a day and drink tea, and other beverages on top of that. I am always thirsty. My thirst is never satiated, never quenched, never alleviated, assuaged, appeased. It’s a constant gnawing in my throat, a constant rumbling in my stomach. Who can save us from this wretched life of never satisfied cravings, desires, and drives? Is there no escape? But it is not really about actually satisfying the thirst, hunger, or appetite, or sex drive. No. Jesus didn’t say that, did he?
Jesus did not say, ‘Come to me and I’ll give you a drink of water you will not soon forget. Come to me and I’ll hook you up with a Long Island Iced Tea you won’t forget!’ No. Jesus said nothing of the sort because he knows too well that we will never be satisfied. It’s the old adage for the alcoholic: 1 beer is too many, 100’s not enough. Jesus did not say, ‘Come to me and I’ll give you a buffet that never ends!’ Jesus said, ‘If you are thirsty, come to me and drink.’ We don’t go at him for a cup of Oolong or Earl Grey or Columbia’s best. He said, and it is most important that all readers take careful note of this, he said: ‘If you are thirsty, come to me and drink.’ (I take it there are some folks who are, in fact, not thirsty.)
You see, what he is saying rather explicitly is that our desire should be for Him. We fix our eyes on what is unseen, not what is seen. We fix our eyes and hearts on Jesus. He is our goal. He is our delight. He is our satisfaction. This is what Paul meant in Philippians:
“I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”
He is saying that our circumstances do not matter, at least they are inconsequential, compared with our position in Christ. In Christ we are always satisfied. In Christ we are never thirsty even though we are dehydrated. In Christ we are ever living even though every day we are dying a thousand deaths. Our hope is not found in the amount of anything we have or our lack of anything we don’t have. Our hope is first and always found in Christ. He is our goal and He is our crown. Jesus did not say, ‘Come to me and we’ll go to Outback together every day.’ He said, and it is most important for everyone who reads John’s Gospel to note this, he said, ‘If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink.’
‘Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water I will give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life’ (John 4:13-14).
‘Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.’ Eugene Peterson wrote, ‘Resurrection is the work of the Holy Spirit in Jesus, raising him from the dead and presenting him before the disciples; resurrection is also the work of the Holy Spirit in those of us who believe in and follow Jesus’ (Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places, 232). Live the Resurrection now. Whoever goes on believing in Jesus has streams of living water flowing through him now. The Spirit has been sent (see John 13-17; Acts 2; etc.). We live even while dying and death has no grip on those who have been declared alive by the One who destroyed death. What can death say or do to those in Christ? Death will never molest the Resurrected!
But again there are objections to Jesus, complaints against his words, agitation that he dare proclaim himself to be something, division over whether he is telling the truth or not. Some want to seize him; others do not. No one does anything.
We do understand though, don’t we? The claims are rather outlandish, peculiar, preposterous, fantastic, and extravagant. “All this from a man whose home-town we are well acquainted with, whose siblings we know, whose chairs we sit upon when we eat dinner? No. The Messiah has to be some other larger-than-life character whose origins are unknown, or at least Olympus like. How can Messiah come from a backwater country like Galilee? But what about Bethlehem? At least he would come from Jerusalem.” And people were divided because of these things. They were divided on that day when he shouted the words; they are today when the words are repeated. Many simply cannot find life so valuable, so wonderful, that they will even take the chance that Jesus may have been telling the truth. They are not that thirsty. Aquafina suits them fine.
Still his words stand for us. We will judge them to be rather outlandish and preposterous or we will judge them to be the very words of God. We are not afforded the luxury of not making a decision though. Thus we are left with the question: Can the Christ be as normal as a Galilean? Or must the Christ be some other-wordly, supernatural, miracle working, freak side-show Bob? Is he about meeting our expectations or being exactly who He is? We are left with a choice between these two positions. Jesus either is or he is not. We are either thirsty and go to Jesus for quenching or we aren’t and don’t. There’s life nowhere else but Jesus. I’ll end today with John’s words in the Revelation 21:
1Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
5He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
6He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. 7He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son. 8But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars—their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”
Take Good Care of One Another!
Soli Deo Gloria!
[PS—also see, Revelation 22:17, Isaiah 12, 44:1-5, 58:11; Psalm 1.]