It’s about four months until the General Election. I’m not all that bothered about the TV debates (if they ever happen that is) as all the candidates have conflicting claims and I’m not that impressed with any of them. I’m not here of course to preach politics – but there is a comparison, I think, with the atmosphere in the courts of the temple where Jesus is proclaiming His Kingdom of God manifesto (in a loud voice we’re told, so we definitely will hear it!). But as with politicians there are conflicting claims about Jesus as well, with many remaining unconvinced, “Who is this man?” More than this in fact: there is a rising tide of hostility and opposition towards Jesus, and there are rumours that the authorities are seeking to kill Him. Yet, some have noticed they will not arrest Him and rumours spread that the ruling elite secretly believed He was the Christ and wanted it suppressed.
All these disputes and counter arguments were to do with whether Jesus was the Messiah or not. There was a belief that the Anointed One would suddenly appear. No one would know his background. But because we know Jesus comes from Nazareth there was confusion as to how much to believe about Him. Nothing good came out of Nazareth. He cannot possibly be the Messiah…let alone a prophet! Others in the crowd, though, believed in Him. For His miracles more than anything else, supposing that when the time was right, Jesus as the true Messiah would perform even greater miracles (notably ridding the country of Roman rule and establishing God’s Kingdom). Jesus ignores these mistaken concepts, and presses His authority (not His own but His Father’s) by going right to the heart of the problem: “You [say] you know me and where I come from?” (v.28). Note the question mark, as they don’t know at all. Where did Jesus come from originally? The answer is stated later in the text – it was Bethlehem, not Nazareth. David’s city was where God was born and Jesus tells them they don’t know God, “But I know him, because I come from him and he sent me.” (v.29).
The reaction to His statement (considered blasphemy) is therefore predictable. When they try to arrest Him, no one laid hands on Him, because within God’s perfect timing – now wasn’t the right time. Remember the phrase Jesus uses in this gospel: “My hour has not yet come” – the “hour” refers to His death and resurrection. It will happen at predetermined time and not before. Right now there is still important teaching to give: “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink.” (v.37). It’s no coincidence that Jesus is at the Festival of Tabernacles. This was a time when God’s people recalled His generous provision to them in the wilderness with manna from heaven and water miraculously gushing from the dry rock that sustained two and a half million people. Again, it’s God’s perfect timing. Because He gave them water, they remembered it and every day of the festival was connected with a water ceremony. Most likely water was brought from the pool of Siloam in a chalice held above the altar by the high priest – symbolic of pouring out from heaven. But on the last day of the festival the priest didn’t go for the water and here is Jesus claiming to be the true source (perfect timing) stating that only He can satisfy the thirsty. That’s whom this offer of living water is made to: it’s inviting those who are thirsty.
In the Bible sometimes thirst is physical and sometimes it is spiritual. It’s the latter Jesus has in mind. Think of David in in the psalm “As the deer pants for the water so my soul longs after you.” Imagine pouring yourself a cold glass of water on baking hot day. It refreshes the body, but it can’t compare to what Jesus is saying here. People listened because they had been thinking about Moses striking the rock. Jesus is saying that He’s greater than Moses for He is the fountain where living water is found! He will satisfy our thirst, and continually replenish it, with the Holy Spirit who has now been poured out in abundance to quench our thirst with shalom, that special peace that the world cannot give, essentially reconciliation with God that is the true source of happiness: “Happy is the man who sins are forgiven.” (Ps.32:1). Recognising our sin causes us to be thirsty. The emptiness of our lives, this constant searching for meaning and satisfaction causes us to be thirsty, “Maybe this time I’ll find what I’m looking for” or “Maybe this time it will work!” Admit it to yourself. Satisfy your thirst and receive the living water by simply coming to Christ in faith: “Whoever believes in me should drink.” (v.38).
We see in this chapter how people responded to this. It caused further division among them. “This man really is the prophet!” “No he is the Messiah.” “Don’t be stupid he won’t come from Galilee” (v.40-41). Nobody had ever talked this way before, remark the guards who had been sent by the he lawmakers, the NT politicians, to arrest him but they couldn’t do it! So what’s your response? As this picture shows there’s only two ways to live, for when it comes to Jesus Christ you either accept Him or reject Him. Unbelief towards Him will always have its reasons, usually rooted in spiritual blindness.
If you say that Jesus was only a good teacher, and deny He was the Son of God then you shut off the channel to the living water. If He’s merely a good teacher then we are lost without any knowledge of the Father. But if He is the Christ, we must believe that He died for the forgiveness of our sin. The horrible death He died for our sin, crucified as the perfect sacrifice (for He was without corruption), was for you and me so that we can avoid hell, and it opened up the channel so that the water of the Spirit (salvation) would be free to flow to desperately needy people. In fact, if you had been the only sinner in the world, Jesus would have still gone to Calvary just to pay for your sins. Such grace allows people to open their eyes: “For the Lord God is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation. With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.” (Is.12:2-3). From St.Paul, Charlemagne, John Newton, Cliff Richard, Tim Mullings – He makes all things possible so that in our fallen state we can live a Christian life. We will be sufficiently satisfied and He will use us to reach others for His glory! The Holy Spirit bears a certain kind of fruit in our soul: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, self-control.
However, if we forget the importance of Christ in our lives, then our faith dwindles. If we sin and do not confess, it’s a bit like putting a boulder in front of the Holy Spirit and we limit His work, blocking His flow from our lives. If today you’re trying to fill the emptiness of your life with all sorts of things, only to find they don’t satisfy – then the Bible describes the type of person you are. As you have forsaken the spring of living water, look at this picture, you are compared to “a dry cracked, broken cistern that cannot hold water” (Jer.2:13). I don’t think I need amplify the meaning of these words, but the question is really simple and you must ask yourself it – “Am I a Christian?”
Also thank God that not a week passes by without men and women coming to Jesus to quench their thirst and the Holy Spirit springs up within them like streams of living water.
Blessed be the Word. Love in the Messiah.