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Are You Thirsty?

Are You Thirsty?

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.’” (John 7:37-39 ESV)


Back in 1998, Stone Phillips did an interview on Dateline NBC. He spoke to a marine corporal named Joey Mora who had been patrolling the Iranian Sea on an aircraft carrier when he fell overboard. No one realized he was missing for 36 hours. Then a search and rescue mission began, but it was given up after another 24 hours. Surely no one could survive in the sea without a life jacket after 60 hours. His parents were notified that he was “missing and presumed dead.”

But about 72 hours later, four Pakistani fishermen found Joey Mora. He was treading water in his sleep, clinging to a makeshift flotation device he made from his trousers. He was delirious when they pulled him into their fishing boat. His tongue was dry and cracked and his throat was parched.

He told Stone Philips that God kept him struggling to survive. But the most excruciating aspect of his experience—the one thought that Joey said took over his body and pounded in his brain was “Water!” [NBC Dateline: Nov. 1998].

Water was also on the minds of the Jewish people as they gathered at the Feast of Tabernacles, or the Feast of Booths. This was one of the three annual feasts, when all the Jewish men would come from the countryside to Jerusalem. They put together their makeshift huts or tents and lived together in the city for eight days to commemorate the time when their forefathers lived in the desert on their way to the Promised Land. It reminded them that they depended on God to provide for all their needs, and that they were still pilgrims in this world, looking for the permanent home God had promised.  

It was close to harvest time, so every day a priest would take a golden pitcher and go down to the Pool of Siloam—on the seventh day he would do this seven times—and he would fill the pitcher with water and bring it back to the temple in a joyful procession as the people sang and waved branches and gave praise to the Lord. When the priest reached the altar, the trumpets would blare and he would circle it seven times. Then he poured out the water, crying out the words of Psalm 118: “O Lord, save us; O Lord, grant us success.”

I imagine one thought taking over the mind of a godly Israelite as he participated in these ceremonies: water!

He would think of how his forefathers experienced great thirst while they wandered in the desert, and how God told Moses to strike the rock, and miraculously water gushed forth from the rock—not just a trickle, but a torrent sufficient to satisfy the thirst of all the people.  

The water was a sign of God’s provision. Thoughts like these from Psalm 36 come to mind: “How precious is your steadfast love, O God! The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings. They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights. For with you is the fountain of life; in your light do we see light.”

But water would also remind the godly in Israel of God’s promise. “There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns” (Psa. 46:4-5).  

The prophet Ezekiel envisioned a river flowing forth from the temple in Jerusalem all the way into the Dead Sea revitalizing everything in its wake. “And wherever the river goes, every living creature that swarms will live, and there will be very many fish. For this water goes there, that the waters of the sea may become fresh; so everything will live where the river goes” (Ezek. 47:9).   

So there was joy at the Feast, there was celebration, but there was also a deep spiritual longing—for a King to come and to deliver his people—for the living water to flow and bring forth blessing to all the earth. A godly Israelite would come to the end of the Feast feeling thirsty still.  

I imagine waking up on the last day of the Feast, the greatest day, excited about all the ceremonies, but disappointed that it is coming to an end—and still thirsty: “As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?” (Psalm 42).

As you gather for the final ceremonies, someone stands up and speaks in a loud voice.  At once you recognize that he understands your spiritual condition, and he knows how to meet your need. His name is Jesus, and he pleads with you with intense passion. There are two things he says he will do for you.  (1) He will satisfy your spiritual thirst; (2) He will make you a source of satisfaction to those who are spiritually thirsty.  

Are you thirsty? Jesus says, “Come to me and drink.” He doesn’t say come to church, come to your pastor, come to sermons, or come to the Lord’s Supper.  All these things can leave you dry and parched with thirst. Churches, pastors, sermons, and the Lord’s Table can be wonderful means of grace, but they were never designed in themselves to satisfy your spiritual thirst. They are only useful to the extent that they lead you to Christ. Come to ME, says Jesus. You must have personal dealings with Jesus. Do not look within yourself to find anything good. There is only one direction, one source, one fountain to which you must turn – Come to Jesus!

“The Spirit and the Bride say, ‘Come.’  And let him who hears say, ‘Come.’  And let him who is thirsty come, let him who desires take the water of life without price” (Rev. 22:17). Continued next week...

Thirsting for more of Him,

Pastor David Sunday