Article: If Anyone Thirsts, Let Him Come To Jesus and Drink ! | Jacob Varghese

Let me begin by taking your attention to John chapter 7 vss. 37 to 52. These verses are incredibly rich and deserve our attention. So go through it carefully.
37 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. 40 On hearing his words, some of the people said, “Surely this man is the Prophet.” 41 Others said, “He is the Messiah.” Still others asked, “How can the Messiah come from Galilee? 42 Does not Scripture say that the Messiah will come from David’s descendants and from Bethlehem, the town where David lived?” 43 Thus the people were divided because of Jesus. 44 Some wanted to seize him, but no one laid a hand on him. 45 Finally the temple guards went back to the chief priests and the Pharisees, who asked them, “Why didn’t you bring him in?” 46 “No one ever spoke the way this man does,” the guards replied. 47 “You mean he has deceived you also?” the Pharisees retorted. 48 “Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed in him? 49 No! But this mob that knows nothing of the law—there is a curse on them.” 50 Nicodemus, who had gone to Jesus earlier and who was one of their own members, asked, 51 “Does our law condemns a man without first hearing him to find out what he has been doing?” 52 They replied, “Are you from Galilee, too? Look into it, and you will find that a prophet does not come out of Galilee.”

As we can see verses 37 through 52 contain two rather distinct episodes. Verses 37 through 39 tell us of Jesus standing in the temple and proclaiming, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink”, whereas verses 40 through 52 tell us of the division that existed among the people concerning their opinion of Jesus. Some were willing to confess that Jesus was the Prophet, or Christ. Others were on the confusion and were willing to give Jesus a hearing. And others were decidedly aggressive. They were ready to arrest Jesus in that moment. Let me make a few observations concerning verses 40 through 52 before we set our attention on verses 37 through 39. Here we see the people are divided concerning their opinion about Jesus. Some say he is good; others say he is bad. Some are ready to confess that he is the Prophet, or the Christ; others want to arrest him. And much of the discussion comes to center upon the question; does Jesus come from the right place in order to qualify as the Messiah? Verse 40 onwards we see “When they heard these words, some of the people said, ‘This really is the Prophet.’ Others said, ‘This is the Christ.’ But some said, ‘Is the Christ to come from Galilee? Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the offspring of David, and comes from Bethlehem, the village where David was? Notice in verses 40 through 52 that the division that existed between the people was such that even the officers were unwilling to the lay their hands upon Jesus, though they had been given an official task of arresting him. But as they approached Jesus to arrest him they could not follow through with it. And what was their reason? The officers said, “No one ever spoke like this man!” It was not that Jesus was a dynamic and an unusually skilled communicator. No, it was the way in which he spoke. He spoke as one who had authority. He did not merely teach about the law, or the significance of the law. No, he claimed to be the fulfillment of the law – the fulfillment of the Feast. Great teachers have come and gone, but no one has made the claims that Jesus made. “No one ever spoke like this man!”
Let’s turn our attention now to the saying of Jesus which stirred up the great division described in verses 40 to52. In verse 37 where we read, “On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and said in a loud voice, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink.’” Festival of Tabernacles was one of the big three annual festivals along with feast of Passover and Pentecost, for which adult Jewish males were expected to make the pilgrimage to Jerusalem and it was generally the most joyous and popular of the three. At the beginning of chapter 7 we see that Jesus’ brothers suggest that he go with them to the festival of Tabernacles in Jerusalem and perform some of his mighty works there, in order to become more widely known. Jesus rejects their suggestion because his time has not yet come. Having made this point clear to his brothers, Jesus later goes in secret to Jerusalem. The selected passage is now a second speech or dialogue of Jesus’ at the Feast of Tabernacles. The first speech was “about the middle of the festival.” Now the second speech occurs at the last day. This was a seven day feast followed by an eighth day of rest or “holy convocation.” So be it the seventh or the eighth day of the festival. There is a debate whether this “last day of the feast” was the seventh day or the eighth. Ultimately the value of the story does not depend on whether it was the seventh or eighth day.

In verse 38 we understand that as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” We need to look at the meaning of Jesus’ statement “Whoever believes in me ‘out of his heart will flow rivers of living water’”. It says rivers, that means more than one, many rivers and surely it is an unstoppable force. Have you ever tried standing in a river? What happens? The current of the water tries to topple you over! Isn’t it? Well, if one river is powerful, how tremendous is the flow of multiple rivers! In this passage we see Jesus’ invitation to come and drink from Him those who are thirsty. Later we see different responses to Jesus’ invitation. We see people who are convinced, people who are conflicting, people who are confused and people who are contemplative. But my question here is this “what is your response or what is our response to Jesus’ invitation. Jesus says “If ANYONE thirsts, let him come to me and drink.” He is not limiting this call to the Jews. It is for ANYONE. He is not limited the call to the wise or the rulers or the holy, but it is for ANYONE who thirsts. Thirst, in the physical sense, burdens all people. No matter how strong a person is, he may be quickly defeated by thirst. One can go a long time without eating, but cannot last long without water. A spiritual thirsting likewise is needed for recognition of our own limitations. We cannot go long without Christ. If you thirst for holiness, for joy, for forgiveness, for peace, come to Jesus. “If anyone thirsts, let him come to ME and drink.” “To drink” is quickly explained in the next as “to believe in Jesus.” Hence we continue the Apostle John’s emphasis on the necessity of faith in Jesus Christ. You must believe in Him for eternal life. But now Jesus tells us about some of the blessings of believing in him. “Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’”
There are a number of Scriptures he likely had in mind: Psalm 46:4 says “There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High.” Isaiah 58:11 says The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. Isaiah 55:1 says “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come; buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Isaiah 44:3 says “For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour my Spirit upon your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants.” Now, we might ask, what does it mean exactly to have “rivers of living water flowing out of your heart”? Fortunately our text tells us at least part of the answer. “Now this he said about the Spirit.” Jesus is referring to the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Triune God. But there is a still a metaphor here. We certainly do not want the Holy Spirit to flow out of our hearts if that means He is leaving us! As Christians, the Holy Spirit dwells in us. So, what does it mean then from the Holy Spirit to flow out of your heart? It means at least these two things.
1. The fruit of the Spirit. Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control will flow from having the Holy Spirit dwell in you. 2. Becoming a channel of blessing to others. When you drink of the living water, when you believe in Jesus Christ and have the Holy Spirit in you, the Lord uses you as a channel of blessing to others. The Lord uses us to preach His Gospel in the assembly and to the world. And then, as Christians the love we show to others blesses them. We have drunk from the waters of life, and that has not only changed us, but it positively affects others. By God’s sovereign grace we become the blessed one and we need to be a channel of blessings to others.
But to finish up Jesus’ statement here before we look at the responses, we need to look more closely at what he says in verse 39. 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. In the Gospel, Jesus’ glorification is tied to his death, resurrection, and ascension. Jesus is not saying that the Holy Spirit had never yet come to anyone! The Holy Spirit had come to Old Testament saints. All who believed did so by the power of the Holy Spirit in them. The Holy Spirit is definitely present, that is why we see in Psalm 51:11 it is written “Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me.” And Psalm 143:10 says “Teach me to do your will, for you are my God! Let your good Spirit lead me on level ground!” The Holy Spirit was working even in Old Testament times. What Jesus then is referring to is a new phase of increased work of the Holy Spirit. Jesus has thus invited all to come and believe in him and have the Holy Spirit flow like rivers of water out of their hearts.
I have mentioned earlier about the different responses we see about Jesus’ invitation to come and drink those who are thirsty. We are going to look at four reactions in the text- The convinced, the conflicting, the confused and the contemplative. In vs.40 we see “When they heard these words, some of the people said, “This really is the Prophet.” The first response is from those convinced that Jesus is really the Prophet spoken of in the Scriptures. Again like so many times in John’s Gospel, it does not seem that they yet believe that Jesus is the Son of God. But they have concluded he is the Prophet. Certainly the words of Jesus are powerful enough to convince his hearers that he is the Prophet. No one has ever spoken like him. This is not like your ordinary teacher. He speaks with authority. From where does this authority come from, it is from God. This is all that is recorded of this first group “the convinced” “This really is the Prophet.”
When we read vss. 41 to 44 we understand, previously the people said “when the Christ appears, no one will know where he comes from.” Now they seemed to have realized and some of them say “Has not the Scripture said that Christ comes from the offspring of David, and comes from Bethlehem, the village where David was?” They know that Jesus is from Galilee, but apparently do not know that he was born in Bethlehem. They ultimately are opposed to Jesus, but don’t know the truth, that he was born in Bethlehem. Yet their rebelliousness did not lead them to put a hand on Jesus. Some of them wanted to arrest him, but no one laid hands on him. It was not yet his time. God ordered and ordained every moment in Jesus’ life to occur exactly as it did. He could not be arrested because it was not yet his time. In addition to “the convinced” and “conflicting” there are “the confused.” The confused are the officers, expected by the authorities to arrest Jesus. In vs. 45&46 we read, the officers then came to the chief Priests and Pharisees, who said to them, “Why did you not bring him?” The officers answered, “No one ever spoke like this man!” These officers are confused because they have their bosses on one side saying “arrest this man” and when they come to Jesus and see that he is speaking with authority. They were unsure of what do to and confused. You might say they were in a shock or awe of Jesus and therefore unable to carry out their orders to arrest him. When we come to a situation like this in our own lives, having to decide between our boss and our God, we must always choose God. We must always choose God over the world. In the book of Acts, Peter and the apostles said “We must obey God rather than men.” We cannot be confused in the least. We must fear God far more. We must not be confused, we must always choose God. Then there is a fourth response that is contemplative and thoughtful. But it is really just an individual, our old friend Nicodemus. Recall that he is one of the Pharisees himself, but has spoken with Jesus and is starting to come around. He knows that something is “up” with Jesus. He might not yet know that Jesus is the Son of God, but he will in time come to faith.
In vs.50&51 we read of Nicodemus, “the contemplative. Nicodemus, who had gone to him before, and who was one of them, said to them, “Does our law judge a man without first giving him a hearing and learning what he does?” Rather than listening to Nicodemus, they push him aside and joked that he must be from Galilee, that he must support Jesus. And maybe it is true that Nicodemus does support Jesus in some way, but the impression he is trying to give is that he supports the law. “Does our law judge a man without first giving him a hearing and learning what he does?” Nicodemus is asking for a “due process.” He is asking that Jesus not be condemned without first being found guilty of something. So we see the diversity of people’s response to Jesus though He invites ALL. There are those agreeing with him the convinced, those opposed to him the conflicting, those unsure of what to do the confused, and thinking Jesus might be who he says he is the contemplative.

So I must ask, “What is your response?” Do you believe in Jesus Christ as Lord and savior? Do rivers of living water flow from your heart? If so, Praise the Lord. And recognize that they are rivers of His Spirit. The good things you do are not of your own, but are done through you by the Holy Spirit. And we should Praise the Lord for all the blessings each of us have when another displays these rivers flowing from them. A positive, active, prayerful, loving Christian can bless hundreds of other people. What is your response to Jesus’ and his invitation to drink of the living water? If your reaction is in negative, think, what is holding you back? Are you convinced but not ready to believe? Are you conflicting to him? Are you confused? Are you contemplative? If there is something holding you back, talk to Jesus and pray that God grants you belief in His Son. For in Him is the living water. One commentator says Christ is “an inexhaustible fountain.” Whoever you are, whatever is your past, whatever is your present, He invites you to come to Him. Let Christ be your future. And in believing in Him you will have rivers of living water flowing from your heart to your benefit and to the blessing of others. “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Jesus and drink.”
These verses bring to mind- Jesus’ comment about “living water” to the Samaritan woman at the well. He said, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” (John 4:10). After she responded, he went on to say, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but 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.” (John 4:13-14). “If any man thirst” – It’s a question that needs to be answered every day. Do you thirst? Now, thirst, physically, is just when you feel the need for water. In the Christian life we should be cultivating our thirst. How do you cultivate your thirst? I think the easiest way is to compare this life of the person you are with the person you should be. Compare the promises of God with the way of the world. And if that does not make you thirst, then you have a severe problem like being that soil that is hard, so that the seed cannot grow.
If a person has no thirst whatsoever, the Holy Spirit will not fill them; the Holy Spirit will not live in them, no matter who they are. If a person does not thirst for God, then the Holy Spirit will not fill him. So the first and foremost thing that is necessary for our salvation is for us to thirst, for us to desire. My question is: Do you thirst? The first thing that you must do is thirst that is the only thing that will satisfy us in Jesus Christ. So we must come unto Him and drink. Does this make you remember the woman at the well? He said to the woman at the well, “If you ask of me, I’ll give you living water.” This living water is the Holy Spirit. If Anyone Thirsts, Let Him Come To Jesus and Drink the living water!




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