“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.”[c] 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.” John 7.37-44
It was the final day of the festival in Jerusalem and Jesus, who showed up late, had made his presence known for several days. He was teaching, healing, performing miracles and telling people about the Kingdom of God. But now, it was the last and what the Scripture calls as the “greatest” day of the festival. And so Jesus takes one final opportunity to invite people to enter God’s Kingdom.
So Jesus says, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” Ok, let’s pause here and break this down. Typically, rabbis would sit down to teach. The Scripture is specific in telling us “Jesus stood and said in a loud voice….” The urgency and importance of this message is not lost on Jesus nor should it be on us. It’s important enough for him to stand in the midst of the crowds and speak in the loudest voice he can to proclaim the most important news he can offer.
Then he says, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me to drink…” Anyone? Does that mean Gentiles? Samaritans? Women? Slaves? Romans? Jewish Religious Leaders? Lepers? Drunks? Prostitutes? Tax collectors? Children? Anyone for Jesus means any-one. All are welcome to come to the Messiah and leave their sin behind. This is where the interpretation of Scripture differs between a liberal and conservative Christian, by the way — what is sin and do we really have to leave it behind?
Anyone is invited to come to Jesus who is thirsty (i.e. wanting more out of this life); and “rivers of living water will flow form within them.” This is what we know as the fruit of the Spirit, the indwelling of the Spirit of God, the filling of the Spirit, and the baptism of the Spirit. It manifests itself in different ways according to gifts and expressions, but it’s the same Spirit who flows out of a person. In our obedience, we can either live according to this Spirit, letting God’s living water flow through us, or hamper it by engaging in sin, selfishness and evil.
Upon hearing the promise Jesus was making some believed, but some doubted. Some questioned him based on where he grew up, others on his parentage but there’s no mention of his abilities. For the Messiah would indeed to do great things.
My point is this — Jesus offers on the final day of a high and holy Jewish festival new life in the Lord through the power of the Holy Spirit. He offered a promise. Some chose to believe while others chose to ignore the Lord of Light.
How will you respond to the words of Jesus? — words to offer you living water that will well up to eternal life.
“O Lord God, you are good. In this season of Lent I am mindful of your sacrifice. I thank you for the power of your love and the movement of your Spirit. I want more of you, Lord. I don’t want to be content with my experience of you. I want more of you and that requires more obedience. Come now, Jesus, make your home in my heart. Lead me into steps of obedience for your names sake. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen