On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” (John 7:37–38, NKJV)
- In order to see the whole force and beauty of the text, we must remember the place, the time, and the occasion when it comes in.
- The place, then, was Jerusalem, the metropolis of Judaism, and the stronghold of priests and scribes, of Pharisees and Sadducees.
- The occasion was the Feast of Tabernacles, one of those great annual feasts when every Jew, if he could, went up to the temple, according to the law.
- The time was “the last day of the feast,” when all the ceremonies were drawing to a close, when the water drawn from the fountain of Siloam, according to traditional custom, had been solemnly poured on the altar, and nothing remained for worshippers but to return home.
- He that said,”Come to Me,” knew and felt, when He said it, that He was the eternal Son of God, the promised Messiah, the Saviour of the world.
A Case Supposed
- Our Lord says, “If anyone thirsts.”
- Physical suffering is not the worst part of eternal punishment. It is a light thing, even in this world, compared to the suffering of the mind and inward man. And this no doubt is the thirst of which our Lord is speaking. It is thirst after pardon, forgiveness, absolution, and peace with God. It is the craving of a really awakened conscience, wanting satisfaction and not knowing where to find it, walking through dry places and unable to get rest.“Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30, NKJV)
- living as we do in a dying world:
- knowing as we do, if we will confess it, that there is a world beyond the grave, and that after death comes the judgment
- feeling, as we must do in our better moments, what poor, weak, unstable, defective creatures we all are, and how unfit to meet God
- conscious as we must be in our inmost heart of hearts, that on our use of time depends our place in eternity
- we ought to feel and to realise something like “thirst” for a sense of peace with the living God.
- Few are those who thirst after eternal life.
- No wonder that the natural man is called in Scripture “dead,” and “sleeping,” and blind, and deaf.
- No wonder that he is said to need a second birth and a new creation.
- There is no surer symptom or mortification in the body than the loss of all feeling. There is no more painful sign of an unhealthy state of soul than an utter absence or spiritual thirst. “Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked” (Revelation 3:17, NKJV)
- A sense of sin, guilt, and poverty of soul, is the first stone laid by the Holy Ghost when He builds a spiritual temple. He convinces of sin.
- It is not when we begin to feel good, but when we feel bad, that we take the first step towards heaven.
- Universities may confer degrees, and schools may impart knowledge of all mysteries, but they cannot make men feel sin. To realise our spiritual need, and feel true spiritual thirst, is the A B C in saving Christianity.
- Let him that knows anything of spiritual “thirst” not be ashamed. Rather let him lift up his head and begin to hope. Let him pray that God would carry on the work He has begun, and make him feel more.
A case of the remedy proposed
“Let him come to Me”
- Place it in your memory side by side with six other golden sayings of your Lord.
- “I am the Bread of life: he that comes to Me shall never hunger; and he that believes on Me shall never thirst.”
- “I am the Light of the world: he that follows me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”
- “I am the Door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved.”
- “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life: no man comes to the Father but by me.”
- Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28, NKJV)
- Christ is that Fountain of living water which God has graciously provided for thirsting souls.
- In Him, as our Redeemer and Substitute, crucified for our sins and raised again for our justification, there is an endless supply of all that men can need – pardon, absolution, mercy, grace, peace, rest, relief, comfort, and hope. “He Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness—by whose stripes you were healed.” (1 Peter 2:24, NKJV) “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Corinthians 5:21, NKJV)
- He who thirsts and wants relief must come to Christ Himself. He must have personal dealings with Christ Himself: all else in religion is worthless without Him. The King’s palace, the attendant servants, the richly furnished banqueting house, the very banquet itself – all are nothing unless we speak with the King. His hand alone can take the burden off our backs and make us feel free.
- He who thirsts and wants relief from Christ must actually come to Him. It is not enough to wish, and talk, and mean, and intend, and resolve, and hope. Hell, that awful reality, is truly said to be paved with good intentions. Thousands are yearly lost in this fashion, and perish miserably just outside the harbour. “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants.” ’ “And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him.” (Luke 15:17–20, NKJV)
- He who thirsts and wants to come to Christ must remember that simple faith is the one thing required. By all means let him come with a penitent, broken and contrite heart; but let him not dream of resting on that for acceptance. Faith is the only hand that can carry the living water to our lips. Faith is the hinge on which all turns in the matter of our justification. “However, to the one who does not work but trusts God who justifies the ungodly, their faith is credited as righteousness.” (Romans 4:5, NIV)
- It is His office to receive sinners. It is His pleasure to give them pardon, life, and peace. And the words of the text are a proclamation He makes to all mankind – “If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink.”
The promise held out to all who come to Christ
“He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” (John 7:37–38, NKJV)
“His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.” (2 Peter 1:3–4, NIV)
- He who has mercifully caused all Holy Scripture to be written for our learning has shown His perfect knowledge of human nature, by spreading over the Book a perfect wealth of promises, suitable to every kind of experience and every condition of life.
- The promises of God are certain to be kept. He is Almighty: nothing can prevent Him doing what He has said. “But he stands alone, and who can oppose him? He does whatever he pleases.” (Job 23:13, NIV)
- He will always keep His word. “God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged.” (Hebrews 6:18, NIV)
- He who comes to Christ by faith shall receive an abundant supply of everything that he can desire for the relief of his own soul’s wants.
- The Spirit shall convey to him such an abiding sense of pardon, peace and hope, that it shall be in his inward man like a well-spring, never dry.
- The humblest and feeblest believer in Christ has got something within him which he would not part with, though he may not yet fully understand it. And what is that “something”? It is just that “river of living water” which begins to run in the heart of every child of Adam as soon as he comes to Christ and drinks.
- He who comes to to Christ by faith shall not only have an abundant supply of everything which he needs for his own soul, but shall also become a source of blessing to the souls of others. Just as “no man lives for himself” (Romans 14:7), so also no man is converted only for himself; and that the conversion of one man or woman always leads on, in God’s wonderful providence, to the conversion of others.
- Some believers are “rivers of living water” while they live. Their words, their conversation, their preaching, their teaching, are all means by which the water of life has flowed into the hearts of their fellow-men.
- Some believers are “rivers of living water” when they die. Their courage in facing the king of terrors, their boldness in the most painful sufferings, their unswerving faithfulness to Christ’s truth even at the stake, their manifest peace on the edge of the grave – all this has set thousands thinking, and led hundreds to repent and believe.
- Some believers are “rivers of living water” long after they die. They do good by their books and writings in every part of the world, long after the hands which held the pen are mouldering in the dust. some believers who are “rivers of living water” by the beauty of their daily conduct and behaviour.
- Some believers are quiet, gentle, consistent Christians who make no show and no noise in the world, and yet insensibly exercise a deep influence for good on all around them.
- Think not for a moment that your own soul is the only soul that will be saved if you come to Christ by faith and follow Him. Think of the blessedness of being a “river of living water” to others.
- Do you know anything of spiritual thirst? I pray God you may be taught to feel before it is too late!
- Is your conscience awake and working? Then hear the invitation which I bring you in my Master’s name this day “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” (John 7:37–38, NKJV) The Lord Jesus invites you. It is enough that you feel thirsting, and desire to be saved. Come: come to Christ without delay.
- Have come to the Lord already? Then come nearer every day! The closer your communion with Christ, the more comfort you will feel. The more you daily live by the side of the Fountain, the more you shall feel in yourself “a well of water springing up into everlasting life.” (John 4:14.) You shall not only be blessed yourself, but be a source of blessing to others.