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Thots for Today's Church

Being faithful to God
in the last days.

Rivers of Living Water
John 7:37-39
  #3 in a series Click here for print format, WORD or PDF

On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” 39 By 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. John 7:37-39 


Jesus spoke these words on the last day of the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles. On that day a priest would fill a golden pitcher with water from the Gihon Spring and lead a procession to the Tabernacle. As they proceeded to the altar where the water was poured out, they sang Isaiah 12:3, With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.

Water is essential to the earth and to humanity. It cleanses. And it both nourishes us itself and makes it possible for food to nourish us. It is so ordinary, yet almost mysterious in its nature and its ability to give life. In fact it is almost life itself. Literally and symbolically, “water” satisfies the need of the human body, soul and spirit. Water!

When Jesus said, Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink, He was declaring Himself to be the fulfillment of Isaiah 55:1a, Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters - -. He was the reality of what they were symbolizing on the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles!    

The Thirsty Soul
There is within humanity a hungering and thirsting for “something more.” It is as the Psalmist says in Psalm 42:1-2: As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. 2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?

We were created to be in fellowship with God, and that fellowship is a mandatory part of human wholeness. When Adam and Eve sinned we were cut off from God and the flow of life from Him. We know that something is missing and our endless and futile pursuit of wholeness and significance through power, possessions and all kinds of sinfulness, confirms our hunger. We discuss that at length in “The True Worshipers.”

As Jesus had said earlier in John 4:13-14, Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life. He expands that in our present text, saying that if we believe in Him, rivers of that living water will flow from within us to quench the thirst of others.

The Purpose of God
We all know John 3:16. And as God says in I Timothy 2:3-6, He wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. His ultimate purpose in all He does is to make Himself known in a way that draws sinners to Him so that He can give them Life. Taking that Good News is to be the life calling and driving force for all who confess Jesus as Savior and Lord. (See “The Bottom Line”)

There are several ways that can happen. The Bible tells the Good News, and the Holy Spirit confirms it to the human heart and gives understanding. But the testimony of the Church, those who have heard the Good News and have chosen to respond to it, is a third crucial factor. Our testimony comes through our spoken word and transformed life. Being “born again” involves repentance – a change of direction and a radically new life which expresses our new nature.

“Whoever believes in Me”
Those words mean that we believe in and give ourselves to Jesus. We believe that He exists eternally as God and that He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. We trust Him to be our Savior, and surrender to Him as our Lord and Master in life. He is our Intercessor before the Father.

When we believe in Jesus in that way, nothing is more important to us. He becomes Life to us, now and forever. He is our source of righteousness, peace and joy - and the answer to our craving for personal significance and identity. We are truly a new person inside and out!

It is when we give Him that place in our heart and life that we can be filled with His presence and rivers of living water can flow from within us. It will be rivers, flowing from all who believe in Jesus, not just a priest carrying a pitcher full! It will be for real, not symbolic. It is present, not something to be hoped for in the future. It will be made effective by the Holy Spirit who had been with man but is now in us. That is profound!

The Challenge
In our text Jesus said, Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. When we drink deeply of the Living Water, His presence will be seen in us. Our countenance will show it and we will be marked by the Fruit of the Spirit instead of the works of the flesh as we go about life and relationships. Read Gal. 5:13-26 and note the stark contrast between the two. Wouldn’t those who are addressed in v24 be obvious to others, who would know that such transformation could only happen supernaturally?

Along the way there are the bothersome texts like John 12:24-26; the conditions of John 8:31b-32; and the “ifs” of John 15:1-17, but they represent the pathway to the love of John 13:35 and I Cor. 13. The surrender to God which allows us to love, will empty us of the selfishness which represents our old nature and will make room for the presence of Jesus in us. Love for God and others is the ultimate expression of His rule and the authenticator of His presence. It is to the parched sinner, what a river is to a lost and dehydrated hiker in the desert. Phew!!!

Who among God’s people are willing to become reservoirs of His presence and His love so that others can know Him? Matthew 28:18-20, John 4:35-38 and John 17:18 still apply. 

The best thing we could ever do for ourselves is to surrender to God and allow Him to fill us with His presence and flow through us to others. Those who define success by the measure to which they are given to His purpose of making Himself known to others, so that they too may have opportunity to chose Him as their Savior, will know the overflowing, abundant life of John 10:10. As Jesus said, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink.”                             
Posted Jan. 26, 2011

This is #3 in the “Thots for Today’s Church” series and is one of many short articles that can be found at © 2010, Ken Stoltzfus,, P.O. Box 228, Kidron, OH 44636 USA. May be printed for personal use and may be reproduced for non-commercial purposes without further permission if proper acknowledgment is given.

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