Come And Drink
Amidst a buzzing Jerusalem, Jesus suddenly stood up and cried out: "If you are thirsty, come to me and drink! Rivers of living water will flow from your heart" He is the fulfilment of the deep thirst for meaning, peace and justice that many still experience today. What happens when we come and drink? And what would it look like when our lives become a wellspring of this living water?
Jesus is in Jerusalem during the Festival of Shelthers. It’s one of the highlights in the year for the Jews and many of them try to make it to the city for this weeklong celebration. The city is buzzing.
And something that is buzzing through the city is the fact that Jesus is there. Everyone knows about Him. His reputation went ahead of Him to Jerusalem. And everyone has an opinion about Him! Some say He’s a good man, some say He’s a fraud. Others think that He might be the Messiah!
The Pharisees have made up their mind about Jesus. He is a danger to them and he must be killed.
The Festival of Shelters
All of this is taking place during the festival of Shelters; a weeklong celebration with a deep anticipation of God’s blessing – often in the form of rain so that their land would be fertile, but certainly also a spiritual blessing.
During this festival, people would live in little huts with an open roof so that rain and light – both signs of God’s blessing – would be able to come in.
Water was central to this celebration. Every day, processions of priests would go to the pool of Siloam to draw water and march that to the Temple to poor it out on the altar while singing and reciting Isaiah 12:3: "With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation."
The water represented: the quenching of their spiritual thirst, the expected rain which would guarantee a good harvest and the hope that one day the Messiah would come to bring salvation and fulfil all God’s promises
With all this going on in Jerusalem, the following happens…
John 7:37-38 (NLT)
On the last day, the climax of the festival, Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’”
Jesus effectively says:
I am the fulfilment of all your hopes and expectations.
I am the fulfilment of this very Festival.
I am the One that quenches your thirst.
I am the One that gives the blessing.
I am the One that brings salvation.
Come to me.
Don’t look to any other thing.
Come to ME.
What you are looking for,
what you are thirsting for and hoping for,
it is me – and there is nothing that you have to do to receive it, you can come and drink freely from the well.
A world in crisis
There are some similarities between the world we live in today, and the world back then.
And these words of Jesus still echo through the streets.
There is an ongoing debate about who Jesus is.
Many put Him aside as ‘a good man’ who once lived but is no longer relevant to us. Some are downright opposed to anything that would even have to do with Jesus or Christianity. But for us, Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life.
Our world is in a crisis. And I’m not talking about Covid-19. We’re discovering that the world that we live in, built on the idea of endless progress, is collapsing in on itself.
There is technological progress – but moral decline
We are globally interconnected – but lonelier than ever
We rage against the sins of the past – but conveniently overlook the injustice of the present
We are trying to create a utopian world built on unlimited freedom, forgetting that we live in a world corrupted by sin.
And people are thirsty for justice, thirsty or meaning, thirsty for a purpose, thirsty for peace and for thirsty for community.
And in the midst of this mess, Jesus is standing up today and says: Anyone who is thirsty, COME TO ME.
You too are invited to come and drink from the well. It’s free! There’s nothing you can do to earn it. There’s nothing expected from you in order to receive it, but to come and drink.
I hope that the last couple of months have made you thirsty. Thirst is a good thing, you know. Thirst triggers your awareness that your body is in need of water – a necessity for survival.
The yearning you may be feeling now for meaning, for community, for peace or for something that makes sense and gives hope in this crazy world – that is spiritual thirst. That thirst was put there by God, because it reminds you that you are in need of His presence. His presence is necessary for our survival.
So, it’s no wonder that you thirst, because He created you for a purpose and for relationship with Him – so the fact that you thirst tells you that something is missing. Jesus is the ONLY ONE that can quench this thirst. And He invites you: Come. To. Me.
Along with the invitation also comes a promise:
‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’”
Not only will your personal thirst be quenched when you come to Jesus. Your life will become a wellspring of living water!
In the next verse, John, the Gospel writer, comments:
When he said “living water,” he was speaking of the Spirit, who would be given to everyone believing in him. But the Spirit had not yet been given, because Jesus had not yet entered into his glory.
Jesus promises every believer that they will receive the infilling of the Holy Spirit so that our lives may overflow of God’s blessing and His presence.
When the Holy Spirit fills you, it quenches your thirst. Even the most desolate places of your soul will come alive. When those dark and hidden places come under the Lordship of Jesus Christ, they will blossom.
Yet, there will be an ongoing need for refreshment. Even though you will not thirst again like in the days before, once you got a taste for the living water, you will want to drink from that well again.
In the coming months, church will become more fluid. I don’t know what it will look like yet, but I know it will be different than before. This means we will all need to approach the coming months with some flexibility.
Water is hard to contain or control. It will go wherever it wants. It will seep through the tiniest little holes.
Fluid church may become our most natural and powerful form
But when we all stay connected to the source of living water – Jesus Christ
And when we all are continually filled with the Holy Spirit – so that streams of living water flow from within us, impacting the world around us – then
fluid church may even become our most natural and powerful form. We’d be unstoppable! We’ll seep through the tiniest little holes, bringing God’s Kingdom to hidden places. We can’t be contained or put in a box! And wherever this stream of God’s Kingdom goes, people will be refreshed and be able to flourish.
In Ezekiel 47, the prophet describes a vision that he had about the Temple. A man takes him there and shows him that water is flowing from the gates of the Temple into the land towards the Dead Sea. Ezekiel is standing in the Temple and slowly the water rises until can’t even stand anymore. Then the man leads him outside to the riverbank and Ezekiel sees that the land starts to flourish.
I believe that this is what we are called to in the coming season of the church. To sink deep in the refreshing presence of God filling the Temple. We are called to go deeper with Him. Yet, that water is unstoppable. It will inevitably seep through to the world around us.
So, in closing, let me ask you to read this passage from Ezekiel 47. Slowly. Prayerfully. Let God speak to you personally about His invitation to you and His promise for you.
Ezekiel 47:1-9 (NLT)
In my vision, the man brought me back to the entrance of the Temple. There I saw a stream flowing east from beneath the door of the Temple and passing to the right of the altar on its south side. The man brought me outside the wall through the north gateway and led me around to the eastern entrance. There I could see the water flowing out through the south side of the east gateway.
Measuring as he went, he took me along the stream for 1,750 feet and then led me across. The water was up to my ankles. He measured off another 1,750 feet and led me across again. This time the water was up to my knees. After another 1,750 feet, it was up to my waist. Then he measured another 1,750 feet, and the river was too deep to walk across. It was deep enough to swim in, but too deep to walk through.
He asked me, “Have you been watching, son of man?” Then he led me back along the riverbank. When I returned, I was surprised by the sight of many trees growing on both sides of the river. Then he said to me, “This river flows east through the desert into the valley of the Dead Sea. The waters of this stream will make the salty waters of the Dead Sea fresh and pure. There will be swarms of living things wherever the water of this river flows. Fish will abound in the Dead Sea, for its waters will become fresh. Life will flourish wherever this water flows.