Pentecost 4/6/17 John 7.37-39
John 7.37 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. 38 Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” 39 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.
Two brothers, both farmers, were talking on the phone. One asked the other how bad the drought was in his area. The other replied, “Well it's got so bad they've closed two out of five lanes at the local swimming pool."
I visited Israel nearly 26 years ago. They had a drought when we got there, and had been praying to rain. When our group arrived it was as if the rain had followed us from Britain and it rained most days when we were there.
We tend to take water for granted. We turn on the tap and it is there.
In some parts of the world today, people still have to travel miles to collect water, which is often polluted, then carry it back home.
Water gives life to people, animals and plants. It refreshes and satisfies, especially in arid climates.
In Jesus' day people had to carry water from nearby springs or wells, for example the Samaritan woman in John 4. So people handled water carefully and conserved it. The harvest coud be ruined if the rain didnt come and at the right time.
Jesus was in Jerusalem for one of the great festivals. The Feast of Tabernacles or Booths. It was a Harvest Festival and one of the three pilgrim festivals where people came to Jerusalem. It reminded the Israelites of the time they were in booths, temporary huts made from branches, as they wandered in the wilderness after being freed from Egypt. It also reminded them how God provided for them there, including water from a rock, Exod 17.
On the first day of this feast, a priest read "On that day living water will flow out from Jerusalem" (Zechariah 14.8 niv). Every day during this feast, except for the last day, a priest stood in front of the temple with a golden pitcher of water and poured the water on a rock. This commemorated the water flowing out of the rock that gave the Israelites water to drink. While the water flowed out, the people standing by chanted, "With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation" ( Isaiah 12.3 niv). The whole ceremony, with the parade and the flutes and the singing, was such a joyful occasion that one of the ancient rabbis wrote: "Anyone who has not seen this water ceremony has never seen rejoicing in his life." They performed this ceremony each day of the feast except the eighth, when they offered public prayers for continued rain.
On the last and greatest day of the Feast, v 37, the day when the water was not poured out, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, v37 “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.”
There was no water poured out that day, and water would have been scarce in Jerusalem after it had been filled with pilgrims for seven days. But Jesus was not speaking of the physical but spiritual.
There are a number of Scriptures which look forward to God providing for his people;
Isaiah 55 “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. 2 Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and you will delight in the richest of fare. 3 Give ear and come to me; listen, that you may live. I will make an everlasting covenant with you, my faithful love promised to David. 4 See, I have made him a witness to the peoples, a ruler and commander of the peoples.
Isaiah 58 The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail.
Isaiah 44. For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants. 4 They will spring up like grass in a meadow, like poplar trees by flowing streams.
Jesus said to the Samaritan woman by the well, John 4. 13 “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
Jesus promised the Holy Spirit. Today we celebrate and remember the first outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Jesus had to go back to heaven on Ascension Day so the Holy Spirit could come and be with and in God's people. Jesus could only be in one place at one time when he was on earth. Now, through His Spirit , he can be with all His people, all of the time, everywhere.
Having God living inside us brings a satisfaction that nothing else can. It brings us God's perfect, unconditional love. It brings us love for God and others. The Holy Spirt gives joy, greater than that experienced at The Feast of Tabernacle. The joy of knowing God's presence, provision and protection. The peace of knowing the forgiveness that Jesus gives through His death and resurrection. The power to live for God, represented by the wind and flames in our Acts reading. The breaking down of barriers and proclamation of what He has done was symbolised by God giving the gifts of tongues so Jews from the Mediterranean and North Africa could hear the wonders of God in their own languages.
The Holy Spirit is a free and undeserved gift from God. He convicts us of our sin (John 16.8), gives the gift of trusting in Jesus (John 3.5), He lives in every believer (1 John 4.13) and enables us to continue and grow in our trust of God and our relationship with him.
The Holy Spirit was poured out upon Jews and Gentiles. He is for everyone. Peter mentioned the prophet Joel in Avts 2.17-21 and the prophet Zechariah looked forward to this, too. 14.16 Then the survivors from all the nations that have attacked Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King, the Lord Almighty, and to celebrate the Festival of Tabernacles. 17 If any of the peoples of the earth do not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord Almighty, they will have no rain.
We've been using our brain today, to understand what Jesus meant when he said v38 "Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” But we need to move about 18" to our heart for this to affect us.
Living water is moving, active, vibrant, powerful. It carries things with it. God the Holy Spirit needs to come into our lives and be active, carrying us along. In Ephesians 5.18 Paul writes be filled and go on being filled with the Holy Spirit. This is something that we need to keep doing, like topping up a car with fuel. If we are to know God and keep going with and for God we need to come to Him again and again for His Holy Spirit, and we can know the true, deep satisfaction of having God living within us, so we can use the gifts he has given us, proclaim what He has done, and worship and glorify Him forever.