Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him." By this he meant the Spirit…- John 7:37-39
Does this statement characterize your daily experience with Christ: “streams of living water flowing from within”? Amazingly, Christ did not say that streams of living water would flow TO anyone who believes in Him, but rather that streams of living water would flow FROM WITHIN anyone who believes in Him. The implication is that such a person will first be refreshed and then will refresh others as the streams flow out. This amazing promise is, I believe, greatly underused in the church today. May God change this state of affairs by His word!
The context of this promise, John tells us, was “The last and greatest day of the feast” (John 7:37). This was the Feast of Booths (7:2), one of the three annual pilgrimages Jews were supposed to make to Jerusalem. The Feast of Booths was scheduled for autumn after the harvest. The Jews lived in booths made from tree branches to commemorate their journey in the wilderness after the Lord had brought Israel out of Egypt. The booths were symbolic of God’s protection and provision for all their needs in a dry and barren land where there was no water. So, God ordained the Feast of Booths to coincide with God’s provision in the Promised Land, after the harvest had been brought in. The idea is one and the same: God alone satisfies all your needs. Therefore, it was in perfect harmony with this theme that Jesus stood up on the last and greatest day of the Feast and proclaimed: “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink.” Just as God made streams of physical water flow from a rock in the wasteland, so will He make spiritual water flow from within you now.
So, what is the nature of this “thirst”? Obviously, since Jesus was speaking spiritually, it must be a spiritual thirst: a sense of barrenness in your relationship with God, if you even have one. A sense of fruitlessness, of wandering, of the deeply unsatisfying “water” of sin and of worldly pursuits. First and foremost, Jesus was calling to people who were “unsaved,” calling them to come to Himself and to experience eternal life, a richly, deeply satisfying life with God. This is exactly what He had done earlier with the Samaritan women at the well, when He said to her, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who speaks to you, you would have asked Him and He would have given you living water.” And “Everyone who drinks of this (physical) water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I give him will never thirst; but the water that I give him shall become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life” (John 4:10, 13-14). The message is clear: a life lived only on the physical level is deeply unsatisfying, and sin leads to utter barrenness. Jesus alone has the remedy: “Let him come to me!!”
"The idea is one and the same: God alone satisfies all your needs."
But what of believers? Do we get thirsty, too? Is this only an invitation for the “unsaved,” or can we come, too? Well, clearly Jesus erects no fence restricting who may and may not come: “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink.” He even makes a special appeal to ongoing faith, “Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Streams of living water will flow from within him.’” This promise is for anyone who meets the criteria: ARE YOU THIRSTY??
And what does John tell us of these streams? “By this He meant the Spirit whom those who believed in Him were later to receive.” The indwelling Holy Spirit will gush streams of living water from within you again and again, as often as you come to Jesus to drink! He will satisfy you the way a glass of cool water would satisfy a man crawling through the Sahara. The “love of God” will be “poured out into your hearts by the Holy Spirit whom He has given us” (Rom. 5:5). The harvest in your life will not be the physical grapes, figs, wheat, and barley the Jews celebrated, but the fruit of the Spirit: “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control” (Gal. 5:22-23). And others will partake of these and benefit as well. This is what Jesus meant by “streams of living water will flow FROM within you.” Others drink and are satisfied.
So, are you thirsty? Come to Jesus and drink! Do you want to quench other people’s thirst for God? Come to Jesus and drink! The church should be filled with people who are unobstructed pipes of living water flowing from Jesus through us to one another. Is it so in your life?