Chapter 17: Thirst Relieved
On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him." John 7:37-38
The text which heads this message contains one of those mighty sayings of Christ which deserve to be printed in letters of gold. All the stars in heaven are bright and beautiful; yet even a child can see that one star excels another in glory. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God; but that heart must indeed be cold and dull which does not feel that some verses are peculiarly rich and full. Of such verses, this text is one.
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 worshipers but to return home.
At this critical moment our Lord Jesus Christ ‘stood’ forward on a prominent place and spoke to the assembled crowds. I doubt not He read their hearts. He saw them going away with aching consciences and unsatisfied minds, having got nothing from their blind teachers the Pharisees and Sadducees, and carrying away nothing but a barren recollection of pompous forms. He saw and pitied them and cried aloud, like a herald, ‘If any man thirst, let him come unto Me and drink.’ That this was all our Lord said on this memorable occasion I take leave to doubt. I suspect it is only the keynote of His address. But this, I imagine, was the first sentence that fell from His lips: ‘If any man thirst, let him come unto Me. If any one wants living, satisfying water, let him come unto Me.’
Let me remind my readers, in passing, that no prophet or apostle ever took on himself to use such language as this. ‘Come with us,’ said Moses to Hobab (Num. 10:29); ‘Come to the waters,’ says Isaiah (Isa. 55:1); ‘Behold the Lamb,’ says John the Baptist (John 1:29); ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ,’ says St. Paul (Acts 16:31). But no one except Jesus of Nazareth ever said, ‘Come to me.’ That fact is very significant. 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 Savior of the world.
This great saying of our Lord’s brings out three main points....
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