‘If anyone is thirsty …'


“On the last and greatest day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, ‘If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water.’ By this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believe in Him would receive. For the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.” John 7:37-39

We think little of the importance and need for water. We just turn on the faucet, and water flows. It wasn’t so in Bible times, especially in the arid regions of the Middle East. Water was a precious commodity, and obtaining all the water needed was a continual task and concern.

Think of the Israelites in the wilderness (Exodus 17). They had no water to drink and were thirsty. They complained against Moses, accusing him of bringing them out into the wilderness to die of thirst. God commanded Moses to strike the rock with his rod and water gushed forth, meeting the needs of God’s people. And the Bible tells us that God provided water for the people from the rock on more than one occasion (cf. Num. 20:8ff.; Deut. 8:15).

Now, it was the Feast of Tabernacles, the last day of that great feast in which the people dwelt in tabernacles to remind them of their living in tents in the wilderness for 40 years. On each day of the feast, the priests drew out a vessel of water from the Pool of Siloam, and the people sang psalms as they returned to the temple to pour out the water into a basin there on the side of the altar — a reminder that God had given them water from the rock in the wilderness.

Then, on the last day of the feast, Jesus cried out in the temple, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water” (John 7:37-38).

That rock in the wilderness pointed to Jesus Christ. As God satisfied the thirst of His people in the wilderness with water from the rock, so Christ offers to meet the spiritual thirst of God’s people with living water, water which continues to flow and meet all our needs and to quench the thirst of those around us as we point them to Christ, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world by means of his sacrifice upon the cross (John 1:29).

As Jesus offered living water to the woman at the well in Samaria (John 4:10,13-14), so here He offers it to all who had come to the temple in search of God’s mercy and blessing. And He offers it to you and to me, as well!

How does Jesus quench our thirst? He offers and gives us pardon and forgiveness for all our sins when we come to Him in faith, trusting that He indeed is God’s Son and our Savior and that He has satisfied the demands of God’s law for us and has suffered the full and just punishment for all our sins and is risen again (cf. Eph. 1:6-9; 1 Cor. 15:3-4; Rom. 3:21-26).

And, as John explained, when we trust in Jesus, He gives to us His Holy Spirit, who continually works through God’s Word and the comfort of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper to keep us in the true and saving faith and assure us of our salvation through faith in Jesus and His cross. He convicts us of our sinfulness with God’s Law and comforts us with God’s pardon and forgiveness through the message of the Gospel, the good news of His mercy and forgiveness in Christ Jesus (cf. Isa. 55:1ff.; 12:1ff.; Matt. 11:28ff.; Acts 2:36-39; Phil. 1:6).

We are living in a spiritual wilderness. True spiritual water is scarce — we can’t find it on our own. But God has provided it for us in His Son — the Rock which follows us in this wilderness of sin and death (cf. 1 Cor. 10:4; Psalm 36:9). And in Jesus, our thirst is quenched. Our greatest need — forgiveness of sins and fellowship with God our Maker — is met. And when we come to Jesus in faith, which is in itself of the gracious working of God (cf. Eph. 2:8-9; Col. 1:12ff.; 2:12; John 6:44,63), the Holy Spirit is given to us and our spiritual thirst is continually quenched as He sanctifies and keeps us in the true faith in Christ Jesus, our Savior (Rev. 22:17)!

We come to You, O Jesus, to quench our thirsty souls. Forgive our sins and keep us within Your flock and fold. And grant to us Your Spirit, and may the rivers flow, that others, too, may hear us, their Savior come to know. Amen.

[Scripture is quoted from The Holy Bible, Modern English Version, Copyright © 2024, 2017, 2014 by United Bible Association. Published and distributed by Charisma House. All rights reserved.]

Categories ,