Are you thirsty? Come and drink!


Are you thirsty? Come and drink!

A wonderful sermon this morning from Jonathan on John 7, but with particular reference to verse 37-38:

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.

Jonathan’s role in all his preaching, he told us, is not to change people’s thinking, or to provide us with ‘thoughts for the day’ but ‘to lay Jesus before you that you might come and drink.’

Who was Jesus speaking to?

He began his sermon by looking at the different categories of people who were within Jesus’ hearing when he offered this invitation – Jesus’ brothers (7:3-4) who didn’t fully acknowledge who Jesus was, but wanted to be associated with his growing celebrity; people with a divided opinions about Jesus “demon possessed (v20), ‘the Prophet’ (v40). ‘the Messiah’ (v41), ‘not the Messiah’ (v27) and who enjoyed debating their views; Jesus’ enemies and adversaries, who were possibly the most ‘religious’ people on earth’ and yet Jesus told them ‘you do not know God’.

The brothers went along for the ride, the debaters failed to see that travelling one centimetre in Jesus’ direction is worth a thousand kilometres of debate, the enemies wanted to kill him.

And yet he said to them ‘Come, and drink.’

The setting

The setting of his invitation was the ‘Feast of the Tabernacles.’ This, Jonathan told us was the harvest thanksgiving service, which also served to remind the Jewish people of God’s provision for their ancestors as they travelled through the desert to the Promised land.  The people lived in temporary buildings, or ‘booths’, and God made God’s home with them in the tent known as the ‘tabernacle.’

As part of the daily ritual of the festivals, the priests filled pitchers of water at the pool of Simoam, and carried them to the Temple Mount as the people recited Isaiah 12:3 ‘With joy we will draw water from the wells of salvation.’  When the priests reached the Temple, they poured the water over the altar as an act of remembering God’s provision of water from the rock in the desert, and as a prayer for future provision of rain to refresh the land.

And in this context Jesus said ‘Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink.’ [In context, this had enormous resonance. Jesus was saying ‘God, the sustainer of life, now offers you living water in me.’]

Pardon?  These people were invited?

Think again about his audience. You don’t need to be a fan of Jesus, a disciple of Jesus, said Jonathan. It’s not even a question of being intrigued by his message, and thinking he has something worthwhile to say.

Jesus makes only one condition. ‘Are you thirsty?’

There is no question of earning the right to drink, or of deserving the right to drink. Simply ‘are you thirsty?  Drink!’

Jesus is the water

And notice the key point – Jesus is the water. He is not the giver of the water. He is the water.  We come to Jesus not to obtain drink, but simply to drink.

In just the same way in the previous chapter, Jesus said (John 6:34-35) not ‘I will give you bread,’ but ‘I am the bread.

Jesus himself is the nourishment for our souls.

What are the implications of Jesus’ amazing invitation?

What are the implications of this astounding offer from Jesus.

It means that our souls were made for God. We ask questions about the meaning of life. Why are we here? What is the purpose of life?

The answer, Jonathan reminded us, is that we were made for God, and that we were made to be fully satisfied in Jesus.

Physical thirst is a symbol of a spiritual thirst which can only be satisfied in Jesus.  Our bodies were made to live on water and food; our souls were made to live on God, to drink God, to absorb God into our deepest being, to feed on living bread, to drink living water. This was the way God planned it to be.

How can I come to Jesus?

So, what does it mean to come to Jesus?

It means to believe.

But what does ‘to believe’ mean?

It means to ‘come and drink’.

There’s a parallelism in Jesus’ words: ‘Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. 3Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.’

‘Believing’ means exactly the same as ‘coming and drinking.’

Believing does not mean accepting certain facts about Jesus, agreeing with certain propositional statements. Believing does not mean having intellectual certainty about your opinions about Jesus.

‘Believing,’ Jonathan said, ‘is a spiritual coming to Christ for the satisfaction of your soul.’

We believe in Christ when we embrace him, when we ‘say Yes’ to him, when we feast upon the spiritual sustenance found in him.

You are a tabernacle, a temple in which the Spirit of God lives.

Christ is as close to you as your thirst, and is yours to drink!

What’s this about ‘rivers of living water’?

And what does Jesus mean by his reference to the ‘rivers of living water’ (v38) which will flow from Christ, and also from those who drink from Christ?  (Jonathan explained that experts disagree as to whether the text means that the ‘rivers’ flow from Christ, or from the believer.)

What matters, Jonathan said, is that it’s a picture of perpetual abundance. When we come to Christ, it is as to a river which never stops flowing. We are giving not a drink, but a spring of water. We will never need to look for refreshment anywhere else. Jonathan quoted John Calvin ‘they who believe shall suffer no want of spiritual blessings.’ Or, as Jesus himself put it (John 4:14) ‘Whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst.’

Now we’re not told that on day one of believing we will become so satisfied with Christ that you are never thirsty again. To drink of Christ is to long for more of Christ. But the river never ceases to flow; the river never runs dry. ‘The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want’ (Psalm 23:1)

The invitation

In our thirst we are invited to come, and drink of a river which flows endlessly.

Is anyone reading this thirsty?

‘Come to Jesus and drink.’


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