37 In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. 38 He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. 39 (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.) (John 7:37–39)
The story is told of a man crawling through the Sahara desert, thirsty and desperate for water. Another man, riding a camel, appears out of nowhere and approaches him. The thirsty man, his lips parched, whispers, “Water…please…can you give me water?”
The man on the camel apologizes and says he has no water, but he has neckties for three dollars apiece. The thirsty man can’t believe it. “I need water!” The man on the camel offers to sell him two neckties for five dollars. Again the thirsty man cries for water. “All I have is neckties,” says the man on the camel and rides off.
The thirsty man continues to crawl and manages to come to an oasis that has, unbelievably, a restaurant! He crawls to the door where the headwaiter, dressed in a tuxedo, glares down at the poor man lying at his feet. “Please,” says the man, “can I just have some water?” “I am sorry, sir,” the headwaiter replies in a snooty voice, “but neckties are required!”
Everyone is thirsty. It’s just that we don’t know what we’re really thirsty for. So we try to quench our thirst in the world: buying things, advancing in our work, drugs, sex, alcohol…the list is endless. God looks at all this and tells Jeremiah words that are applicable even today:
13 For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water. (Jeremiah 2:13)
When the Lord offers himself as the living water as he did in John 7, most people respond to him like he was selling neckties to a thirsty man in the Sahara desert.
As it turns out, however, what the Lord offers is really vital when we come to Judgment Day. God is the source of the water that really will quench our thirst, and give us eternal life. Where do we go to get his water? Only in Jesus Christ—
JESUS OFFERS THIRSTY PEOPLE A DRINK
John 7:37 In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.
1) The Water Rituals At The Feast
“that great day of the feast,”—The feast in this verse was the Feast of Tabernacles or Booths. It was a seven-day feast where people came to Jerusalem and stayed in tents (often just shelters built of branches and leaves) to represent the forty years of wilderness wanderings.
During this great feast, there was a ceremony involving water. Here’s a description:
On the seventh day…a golden flagon filled with water at the pool of Siloam was carried in procession by the high priest to the temple. As the procession approached the Water Gate on the south side of the inner court, there were three loud blasts of a trumpet, a shofar, which was the trumpet of joy…
Three loud blasts of the shofar, a joyful trumpet, and the priest then processed around the altar with the flagon, and the pilgrims watched, the choir sang the hallel, which is Psalms 113–118…
All cried, “Give thanks to the Lord! Give thanks to the Lord! Give thanks to the Lord!” Three times. Then the water was offered to God. (D. A. Carson, “Streams of Living Water,” in D. A. Carson Sermon Library, Faithlife, 2016)
Jesus looked at this ceremony and used it to point to himself. “If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.”
2) What Does It Mean To Thirst?
When Jesus said, “If any man thirst,” what did he mean? It’s obvious that it’s a spiritual thirst that he has in mind, but what does it mean to thirst spiritually?
(1) It means that you recognize that you don’t measure up to God’s standards. You know that you aren’t righteous, you are a sinner. Jesus said:
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. (Matthew 5:6)
To hunger and thirst after righteousness means that you know that you aren’t righteous and you need to be.
(2) Being spiritual thirsty also means that you also recognize that only Jesus can quench the thirst you have. Drinks with your buddies at the bar will only go so far. Working 12-14 hours a day will just make you tired. You need something more, you need Jesus, and only Jesus. You need to drink from Jesus.
3) What Does It Mean To Drink From Jesus?
Coming and drinking of Jesus Christ, is the same as believing on Jesus. Jesus said, “he that believeth on me shall never thirst” (John 6:35).
The visual picture of coming and drinking helps us understand believing. Some folks think of believing in Jesus as an intellectual thing that has no or little effect on their lives. They believe because, for example, their friends are Christians.
But when you understand that drinking is the same as believing, you see that your believing is life giving, thirst quenching, and soul refreshing! You don’t just intellectually say, “I believe water is good for me.” You drink it! You commit yourself to the action of drinking water!
That’s believing in Jesus…you have to come to him and actually trust him to save you. Do you believe in Jesus…have you drank from the Jesus well?
RIVERS OF LIVING WATER FROM MY BELLY?
What happens when you believe in Jesus—when you come and drink?
John 7:38 He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.
This is a strange sounding verse. What does rivers of living water flowing out of a believer’s belly mean?
“Belly” is being used metaphorically to refer to the inward part, or even the heart, of a believer.
The “water” refers to the Holy Spirit as verse 39 makes clear:
John 7:39 (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)
When you believe in Jesus (you come and drink), the Holy Spirit comes to live in you (in your “belly”), and you’ll have satisfaction forever (never thirst), because you’ll have rivers of water inside you. The Spirit will be helping you to be satisfied.
(1) You will have satisfaction in knowing that you have everlasting life. Jesus told the woman at the well this very thing in John 4:14.
14 But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life. (John 4:14)
When you believe in Jesus you can have the peaceful feeling of knowing where you’ll be when you leave this Earth.
(2) You will have satisfaction knowing that you have the Holy Spirit, a river of water, dwelling inside you to help you face the trials you face in life. Listen to what Jesus says in John 14:16—
And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; (John 14:16)
Jesus was referring to the Holy Spirit and saying that he would be a Comforter, or Helper, that would abide in us.
(3) You will have satisfaction in living a clean life when you remember that the Holy Spirit indwells you and your body is his temple.
19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? (1 Corinthians 6:19)
It will be easier to say “no” to things that would defile your body because you’ll be able to say, “I am God’s temple and I am happy about that.”
Every Christian ought to be able to have these satisfactions, but often we don’t because we get distracted from the water that comes from within us. We seek satisfaction in other things: the world, jobs, even families. We cease to be thirsty for the Lord.
HOW DO WE GET THIRSTY FOR GOD’S WATER?
In Psalm 63, David says,
1 O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: My soul thirsteth for thee, My flesh longeth for thee In a dry and thirsty land, where no water is; (Psalm 63:1)
How do we get thirsty for God? How does an unbeliever get so thirsty that he will “come unto [Jesus] and drink”? How does a believer stay thirsty for God?
There is a sense in which thirstiness is a gift of God. It has to be, because we are sinners and we are mired in the world. Matthew Henry wrote:
Those satisfied with the world, that see no need of Christ, do not thirst. They are in no uneasiness about their souls: but where God gives grace, he gives a thirst… (Matthew Henry’s Commentary [Condensed], OakTree Software, 1996)
Being spiritually thirsty is a sign that God is working on a person’s heart. God may use many different methods to make a person thirsty. It might be a crisis in the person’s life, or a sense of “What have I done with my life so far?”
The Lord might use another person, perhaps someone who is really thirsty for Him to give us a thirst ourselves. It might be a book, a Bible verse, a song, a movie…the possibilities are unlimited.
How is God working to make you thirsty for him? Are you ignoring the means that he is using? Are you ignoring the on-fire Christian that God has placed in your life? Are you being bitter over trials instead of using them to search for God?
Being thirsty is a gift from God, so don’t ignore his gift. There are two other ways to become more thirsty for God…
(1) By coming to the source of the water! The Holy Spirit uses the Bible to minister to us. Go to the Bible, open it up, read it, and meditate on it. Don’t be a person who says that they are thirsty for God, that they wish they could serve Jesus better, and yet never go to the place where your thirst can be quenched.
1 Blessed is the man That walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor standeth in the way of sinners, Nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. 2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord; And in his law doth he meditate day and night. 3 And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, That bringeth forth his fruit in his season; His leaf also shall not wither; And whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. (Psalm 1:1–3)
Doesn’t that sound good? Don’t you desire that for yourself: to be a tree planted by rivers of water…a Christian firmly rooted in Christ? Then meditate in the Word of God! Don’t just read it like a chapter a day will keep the devil away. Meditate on it…ponder it…ask questions, and you will find yourself thirsty for more.
What happens when you don’t drink? You dry up and blow away.
4 The ungodly are not so: But are like the chaff which the wind driveth away. 5 Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, Nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. 6 For the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous: But the way of the ungodly shall perish. (Psalm 1:4–6)
If you are an unbeliever, this is your destiny. If you are a Christian, and you stop drinking, you will be saved, but in this life you will look like an unbeliever: dried up and ready to blow away.
The Bible tells us not to grieve, or quench the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:30; 1 Thessalonians 5:19). One way to quench the Holy Spirit from welling up inside you is to ignore and neglect the Bible in your life. Not reading the Bible is like jamming a stick in a water faucet.
(2) By being a blessing to others. Verse 38 says that when we drink of Christ, a river of living water wells up inside us, and becomes a blessing to other people around us.
Have you ever heard the phrase, “constipated Christians”? These are Christians who take in the Word every Sunday, study their Bible, but aren’t a help or a witness to their family or neighbors or anyone. As a result, they are unsatisfied.
The life that Jesus puts in you is meant to be shared with others. A strange thing happens when you do good to other people, or share the gospel with someone. You get the blessing of being thirsty for God! Jesus did say, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).
When we give ourselves to other people for the sake of Jesus, we’ll find ourselves both satisfied in Jesus and thirsty for more of Jesus.
I know that when I have a conversation with someone about the Lord, whether it is a conversation about the Bible, or a prayer with someone, or just a short verse shared with an unbeliever, I go away with a hop in my step and a skip in my soul.
Don’t think that being thirsty for God is all about being alone with the Bible, that’s a big part of it, but you also need to go out and share Christ and his love with others around you. Then, you’ll go back to your Bible thirsty for more.
Are you thirsty? Yes, you are. But do you recognize how you are trying to quench your thirst? People use all sorts of ways to quench their thirst—some are noble ways: having a great purpose in life, working to support a family. Others are immoral: sex, drugs, alcohol, and such things. Some people find water in materialism…buying toys and bigger and better of whatever there is to buy.
But all those things are like drinking salt water. They won’t quench your thirst. In fact, you need up more thirsty. So they pile on more stuff, or more noble purposes, or more immorality. But it all ends up in the same place: being thirsty and empty.
Maybe today you’ve finally realized that you are approaching it all wrong. That you’ve been drinking salt water. Maybe you are hearing God’s call to come and drink of his water—a water that, once you drink it, will satisfy your thirst forever.
1 Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the water…Hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, And let your soul delight itself in fatness. 3 Incline your ear, and come unto me: Hear, and your soul shall live; And I will make an everlasting covenant with you…(Isaiah 55:1–3)
If you are hearing God’s call to come and drink, then pray with me.