Tuesday, April 15, 2014

LIVING WATER (John Chapter 7)

John 7:37-39, “On the last day of the great 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.”

Sacrifices took place on each day of the Feast of Tabernacles.  On the great day, the last day, a procession of worshippers made their way to the temple.  When they reached the Pool of Siloam, a priest filled his golden pitcher with water.  We should note that the name “Siloam” is “Shiloh” in the Hebrew (meaning “one sent”) and was a name that spoke prophetically of the coming Messiah.  The procession then made its way to the temple and just as the priest passed through the water-gate (so named for this particular ceremony) he was welcomed by a three-fold blast of the Priests’ trumpets.  The priest was then joined by another who carried the wine for the drink offering.  Both ascended the rise of the altar together and then together simultaneously poured out the water and the wine into funnels which then led down to the base of the altar.  Immediately after ‘the pouring of water,’ the “Hallel” Psalms (113-118) were chanted by all the people.  The Feast –in every aspect—anticipated the coming Messiah (Cf. Zechariah 14:16, 8).  Year after year for centuries it had been observed in the hope of its ultimate future fulfillment.

Everything in the feast pointed to the promised Messiah—the sacrifices made, water taken from the pool of Siloam, the entrance through the water-gate, the Psalms sung, etc.—but, for the most part, the multitude of thirsty souls present did not recognize that the fulfillment of promise stood in their midst.  Many in today’s world struggle to find clean drinkable water, but even more live day-after day thirsty of soul for God.  I’ve read of those adrift at sea without water.  Ironically, they yearn to have their thirst assuaged though encompassed by water on ever side.  The problem with sea-water is, of course, that it can never work to satisfy a person’s thirst.  Being filled with salt the drinking of it results instead in a greater thirst and compounds the need.  Sin is like that.  It deceptively promises to meet our needs, but only serves to aggravate our condition.  Man’s thirst for life (restored relationship with God) can only be assuaged in Jesus Christ.

On the last day of that great feast as the priest poured out the water—an act which anticipated the pouring out of a living water through the coming Messiah—“Jesus (the Messiah) stood up and cried out, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink’ (John 7:37).  His reference to “living water” was to the ministry of the Spirit who was to come (Cf. John 7:39).  The Spirit did come at Pentecost.  He has ever since provided an inexhaustible torrent of “life” that works to enliven from within those who are born again.

During a particularly difficult time in his missionary work in China, Hudson Taylor, was blessed by the truth of this passage.  He wrote to a friend, “And now I have the very passage for you, and God has so blessed it to my own soul? John 7: 37-39: ‘If any man thirst, let him come unto ME and drink.’ Who does not thirst? Who has not mind thirst, heart-thirsts, soul-thirsts or body-thirsts? Well, no matter which, or whether I have them all—“Come unto me and’ remain thirsty? Ah no! ‘Come unto me and drink.’  What, can Jesus meet my need? Yes and more than meet it. No matter how intricate my path, how difficult my service; no matter how sad my bereavement, how far away my loved ones; no matter how helpless I am, how deep are my soul-yearnings—Jesus can meet all, all, and more than meet. He not only promises me rest—ah, how welcome that would be, were it all, and what an all that one word embraces! He not only promises me drink to alleviate my thirst. No, better than that! ‘He who trusts Me in this matter (who believeth on Me, takes Me at My word) out of him shall flow….Can it be? Can the dry and thirsty one not only be refreshed—the parched soul moistened, the arid places cooled—but the land be so saturated that springs well up and streams flow down from it? Even so! And not mere mountain-torrents, full while the rain lasts, then dry again…but, ‘from within him shall flow rivers’—rivers like the mighty Yangtze, ever deep, ever full. In times of drought brooks may fail, often do, canals may be pumped dry, often are, but the Yangtze never. Always a mighty stream, always flowing deep and irresistible!” (J. Hudson Tayler, “J. Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret”).  Jesus promises in Himself to provide “living water” to those who believe in Him!  As you thirst in this life for life look unto Jesus.  He alone can fully satisfy the needs of our God-thirsty souls.

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