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. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” 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.
This world is a spiritual desert. It has nothing to offer those who thirst for God but the mirages of false religion, personal enlightenment, and sin. They promise to quench our need for God, but they all fall far short. Thirsty souls continue to search. They run from false hope to false hope and from sin to sin hoping to satisfy their deepest need. What they find is little more than a distraction. Something to take their mind off of their thirst. Some, to avoid utter despair, embrace that distraction with all they have, for it is, at the very least, better than nothing. But this is not how it should be. God has placed wells of life giving water in the midst of this desert, and in His abundant kindness He did not make these wells stationary. The thirsty need not come upon one of them by chance. God placed these wells in the hearts of His people so they might go to where the hurting and thirsty are and give them life.
Now you may think I am being a little melodramatic here, but this is the picture that emerges from the passage. Jesus spoke the above words on the last day of the Jewish Feast of Booths which celebrated God's provision for the Israelites during their time in the desert. Now I have never lived in the desert but I imagine that a person's greatest need there is water. Jesus draws on this image to talk about what He has to offer. He says in effect, "Come to me all who are thirsty and drink..." (Isaiah 55). He continues explaining that those who come to Him to drink not only have their thirst quenched but a well of Living Water is placed within them. Presumably this well would serve two functions. First, it would serve to quench their thirst on a continual basis so that they would never again be lacking. Second, it would flow out from within them to provide for those around them. Jesus identifies clearly what this well of Living Water is. It is the Holy Spirit placed inside all believers. He is also clear about the source. It flows from within believers but it originates from belief in Christ.
This leaves us with a few questions. Are you a believer? And, the question that has been haunting me of late, is the life-giving Spirit flowing freely from within you and impacting the lives of all who come into contact with you? I fear that I have allowed my well to fall into disrepair. I write a devotional blog trying to help others spend more time in the Word not because I have mastered it but because I very much still struggle to do so myself. I have grown lax in my connections to Christ and now I run dry. What is truly sad is that this not only hurts me but it also leaves those who are perishing around me with no witness that there is something better for them. Oh, I can tell them about how great Jesus is but a thirsty soul has a knack for noticing the parched lips of one who claims to have water. They have been misled too many times. They are hesitant to believe. The best witness of all is that living well. As the presence of the Holy Spirit spills out of your life in power onto the hurting they have every reason to believe what you say.
Lord forgive me for taking You for granted. Restore my first love. Renew my well of living water. May those who are hurting and lost in this world enter into Your presence when they enter into mine. Quench my thirst anew and send me out for your glory!
For further reading...
- Isaiah 55- Only God satisfies.
- John 4:1-42- Jesus used this metaphor elsewhere.
- Leviticus 23:39-43- background on the Feast of Booths.
- II Corinthians 2:14-17- Paul uses a different metaphor. We are the aroma of Christ.