Jesus Offers Living Water
Series: The Gospel of John
his week we resume our Gospel of John series by looking at John 7:37-52. This continues where we left off last time, where Jesus was teaching at the Feast of Booths. This text includes a famous passage, where Jesus calls the thirsty to come to him and drink. The big idea is simply that Jesus offers us living water. We will explore what that means, and what we can do about it.
– ESV Study Bible (notes on the Gospel of John by Andreas Kostenberger)
– Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament – The Gospel According to John -Andreas Kostenburger
– The Gospel According to John (Pillar New Testament Commentary) by D.A. Carson, page 321-333
-Expository Thought on John by J.C. Ryle
Water is a precious, amazing thing. Fresh water is a scarce resource. 97% of the earth’s water is salty or otherwise undrinkable. Another 2% is locked in ice caps and glaciers. That leaves only 1% of the earth’s water for all of humanity’s needs — all its agricultural, residential, manufacturing, community, and personal needs. Water is scarce, but inestimably valuable. Water regulates the Earth’s temperature. The human body is 75% water. The average total home water use for each person in the U.S. is about 50 gallons a day. You can live a month without food, but you won’t last more than a week without water. What resource is more valuable than water?
The wonder, scarcity, and preciousness of water puts the Lord Jesus statement in John 7:37-38 into stark perspective: On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” Jesus’ words reveal the big idea of our passage: Jesus offers living water. This big idea raises two important questions that we’re going to consider this morning (1) what does it mean? (2) What do we do about it?
WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
What does it mean that Jesus offers living water? What is living water?
To answer that question, we have to begin with the context here in John 7. John 7:37 – On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink…” The Lord Jesus is in Jerusalem for one of the greatest and most joyful Jewish feasts, which is the feast of booths, also known as the feast of shelters. The feast of booths lasted for about a week and during the entire week, God’s people would live in booths or temporary shelters. The entire festival was designed to help God’s people remember that when the Lord brought his people out of slavery in Egypt and they wandered in the wilderness for forty years before coming to the Promised Land, they had no permanent home, only temporary shelters or booths, and yet the Lord sustained them and provided for them. They lived in booths, tents, or temporary shelters. They did not farm or irrigate, but the Lord sustained them for forty years with food, water, and temporary shelters. The feast of booths helped God’s people remember his miraculous provision and his covenant faithfulness to them. Leviticus 23:42-43 – You shall dwell in booths for seven days. All native Israelites shall dwell in booths, 43 that your generations may know that I made the people of Israel dwell in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.”
By the time the Lord Jesus walked the earth, the feast of booths culminated in a celebratory, exciting, packed out water pouring ceremony. The water pouring ceremony was the culmination of the festival because it reminded God’s people of the most amazing way that the Lord provided for the wilderness wanderers; He miraculously provided them with water to quench their dying thirst. One such instance of miraculous water provision, is recorded in Exodus 17. God’s people were desperate for water to survive. The parched people became furious with their leader, Moses. If you’ve ever been really thirsty, you can have some compassion toward them. They cry out against Moses, so Moses cries out to the Lord. And the Lord tells Moses to take his staff and strike a particular rock that they must have been carrying with them throughout their wilderness wandering. By faith, Moses strikes the rock, water gushes out, the people drink, their thirst is quenched, and their lives are sustained.
It’s not until we get to the New Testament that we learn the true identity and real significance of the rock that Moses struck. 1 Corinthians 10:1-4 – For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, 2 and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, 3 and all ate the same spiritual food, 4 and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ.
Wow! Moses struck the rock and water gushed out to sustain God’s people for a day or at most a week. The Lord Jesus is the true and greater rock who was struck down, but rose three days later to give his people living water that never runs dry and quenches their thirst forever.
So what is this living water that the Lord Jesus offers to all who come to him and drink? Drinking is a vivid image of faith. We depend completely on the water that we drink. What is this living water that Jesus offers to all who believe, to all who receive and rest in him alone? John tells us. John 7:38-39 – “Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” 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. The water that the Lord Jesus offers is the Holy Spirit who alone can give new, spiritual, eternal life to parched, dead sinners like us. Moses struck the rock and water gushed out to give physical life. Jesus is the truck ruck who was struck so that the Holy Spirit can gush out on all who believe in Him.
Throughout the Old Testament, when the coming of Christ is promised, we often read that Christ will give the Holy Spirit to all who believe in Him. One such passage that looks forward to the coming of Christ and the Spirit that he will give to all who believe is Ezekiel 36:25-27 – I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. 26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.
What does Jesus mean when he offers living water to all who believe in Him? Jesus is saying, “I am the true and greater rock who will be struck down on the cross, but three days later I will rise. And once I rise to glory at my Father’s right hand, I will pour out on you not literal water, but the Holy Spirit who will give you spiritual life from death, cleanse you from all your sins, satisfy your thirst for God, and give you new hearts that beat with love for Him forever.” Jesus is offering eternal life and satisfaction to sinners who come to him and do nothing but receive with the empty hands the promised Holy Spirit. Jesus offers cleansing, forgiveness, and new life to dead sinners. That’s what it means that Jesus offers living water. Now that we know…
WHAT DO WE DO ABOUT IT?
As I studied our passage, I noticed at least three things that Jesus invites us to do with his offer to come to him for living water.
Notice that the Lord Jesus’ invitation is somewhat exclusive. John 7:37 – On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Jesus offers living water to those who recognize their thirst. He invites anyone who is thirsty. Only those who recognize their thirst can come to the Lord Jesus for living water. The invitation is to anyone who is thirsty for God. I love the way the late Anglican Bishop J.C. Ryle describes spiritual thirst. The thirst before us is of a purely spiritual kind…The beginning of all true Christianity is to discover that we are guilty, empty, needy sinners. Until we know that we are lost, we are not in the way to be saved. The very first step toward heaven is to be thoroughly convinced that we deserve hell. That sense of sin which sometimes alarms a man and makes him think his own case desperate is a good sign.
Jesus offers living water. The first thing we must do about it is recognize our thirst. Friends – recognize that you have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God and justly deserve his eternal wrath. Recognize that you thirst for eternal life, but left to yourself you’ll inherit eternal death. Recognize that you are guilty and need forgiveness. Recognize that you’re full of shame and only Christ can rid you of your disgrace. Not only that, recognize that you have longings that this world and everything in it cannot satisfy. Recognize that God made you for himself and you’re restless until you rest in Him. Jesus offers living water. The first thing we must do is recognize that we are thirsty for the one true God.
Thirst is a means to an end, not a destination. Don’t listen to the Dos Equis guy – don’t stay thirsty my friends. Instead, come to the Lord Jesus and drink; receive the fullness of the Holy Spirit that he offers! John 7:37 – On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’”
The dirty little secret is that we all drink. The question is where do we turn for drink. The Bible calls turning to anything or anyone but the Lord with our thirst “idolatry.” The New City Catechism says that idolatry is trusting in created things rather than the Creator for our hope and happiness, significance and security. Idolatry is spiritual suicide. Idolatry is when we recognize our thirst and try to quench it by drinking sand.
Friends – today I want to invite you to bring your parched soul to the only One who can give you living water. As Tony Evans says, “There is only one oasis for those who are in a spiritual desert. If you’re spiritually parched, go to Jesus. He won’t merely quench your thirst, he’ll provide internal streams of living water.” For a moment, I’d like to speak to those of you who aren’t yet followers of Jesus. I’m so glad you’re here. No one is going to pressure you here. Here is what I need you to know about Christianity. Christianity isn’t about doing, it’s about receiving. Jesus offers living water. If you recognize that your soul is parched because of sin and thirsty for God, come to the Lord Jesus and drink. Left to yourself, you’ll suffer eternal dehydration, but he offers forgiveness, cleansing, and eternal life through the Holy Spirit that he gives to all who come to him with the empty hands of faith. Don’t do anything. Just receive; drink and enjoy eternal life. (give everyone two minutes with connect card).
Now – if you’re already a follower of Jesus, here is what I need you to know about Christianity too: Christianity still isn’t about doing; it’s still about receiving. Until we’re at home with the Lord, we will thirst. In this life, we sin and experience guilt and shame. We need to come to Jesus to receive fresh cleansing through the filling of the Holy Spirit. In this life, we grow dry and weary in our souls. We need to come to Jesus and receive fresh renewal through the filling of the Holy Spirit. In this life, we experience trials, pain, and disappointment we never expected. We need to come to Jesus and drink fresh comfort through the filling of the Holy Spirit. Jesus offers living water. He offers the ongoing filling of the Holy Spirit. Come, receive, drink and be satisfied as you wait with hope for the day when your thirst will be fully quenched forever. Consider a personal note (I am weary in my soul).
The most wonderful thing happens when we come to the Lord Jesus with the empty hands of faith and receive the living water that is the Holy Spirit – we are filled to the point of overflowing! John 7:38 – “Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” When we come to the Lord Jesus for living water, we are more than satisfied. We overflow and become springs of blessing that refresh others. When we bring our thirst to Christ everyday, he more than satisfies us so that we have more than enough to refresh others.
Citylight – let’s be a refreshing church. Let’s refresh our neighbors, co-workers, classmates, and the people we hobby with by bringing them to the satisfaction that Christ alone offers. Let’s refresh them by praying for them regularly, by loving them genuinely in Christ’s name, by inviting them into our church, and by speaking the good news of eternal satisfaction in Christ. And let’s be a refreshing community to one another. Let’s bear one another’s burdens, encourage one another in the gospel, and outdo one another in love.
The Lord Jesus is the true rock who was struck down and resurrected to pour out living water that satisfies forever. As His refreshed people, let’s refresh the world with his good news.