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Sunday, September 16, 2018

posted Sep 16, 2018, 10:26 PM by Site Administrator

IF ANYONE IS THIRSTY, LET HIM COME TO ME AND DRINK

 

John7:25-53

Key Verses 7:37,38

 

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."

 

First, “I am from him and he sent me” (25-32). In the previous passage, we saw Jesus’ wisdom and courage. Even when the Jews in Jerusalem were looking for him to kill him, Jesus waited for a perfect chance, appeared publicly in the temple courts and taught the people. In such an oppressive environment, Jesus preached the word of God boldly. He challenged them to decide to do God’s will, saying, “If anyone chooses to do God’s will, he will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own.” Throughout the Feast of Tabernacles, the conflict between Jesus and the religious leaders grew sharper and sharper. Look at verses 25 to 27. Now the people in Jerusalem knew that the religious leaders were looking for Jesus to kill him. But even though Jesus was preaching in the temple courts freely, the rulers did not do anything to him. They were confused, wondering if the leaders already had concluded that Jesus was the Messiah. But these people rejected Jesus because of his human background. They didn’t have any concrete knowledge of the Bible, but only some vague mysterious expectation about the Christ. They said, “But we know where this man is from; when the Christ comes, no one will know where he is from." What did they mean when they said, “When the Christ comes, no one will know where he is from”? They themselves did not know what they meant. They had just some mystical idea about the Christ, totally unbiblical, but out of their own fantasy. What was Jesus’ reply? Look at verses 28 and 29. Let's read these verses together:

 

28Then Jesus, still teaching in the temple courts, cried out, "Yes, you know me, and you know where I am from. I am not here on my own, but he who sent me is true. You do not know him, 29but I know him because I am from him and he sent me."

 

The people in Jerusalem thought that they knew Jesus because they had some information about Jesus; they knew that Jesus was from Nazareth. But in the true sense, they did not know Jesus at all – they did not know that Jesus was there not on his own, but according to the plan of Him who sent him; they did not know who sent him. If the people truly knew where Jesus came from, they would have known the Father who sent him. But because they did not know who Jesus was, and where Jesus came from, they did not know the Father as well even if they had read the Bible all their lives, and even if they had attended the temple worship service all the time. They didn’t know anything about Jesus. The Contemporary English Version translates Jesus’ words in verse 28 as, “Do you really think you know me and where I came from?” Many people think that they know Jesus because they have acquired some information about him through attending church worship service few times. Nowadays, the name “Jesus Christ” is a general noun, so people even use this name as a bad word. The knowledge about Jesus is everywhere. So people easily think that they know Jesus. But Jesus wants us to be really sincere and serious about him. He says, “Do you really think you know me and where I came from?”

 

In verse 29, Jesus says, “You do not know him, but I know him because I am from him and he sent me.” The crowd did not know who Jesus was, where he came from, why he was there; they knew nothing about Jesus. But Jesus knew who he was, where he came from and why he was there. This statement of Jesus is really significant. “I know him because I am from him and he sent me.” Jesus knew where he came from and how he was in the world. He knew why he was there. Throughout human history, no one said like this; no one said, "I know who I am and where I came from and why I am here in the world." Instead, all mankind tried to figure out the answers to these questions. “Where did I come from? Where am I going? Who am I? What should I do with my life here on earth? How should I live my life?” These are the fundamental questions all mankind have. Without having the answers to these questions, no one knows who he is or why he exists in the world or how to live his life. So, throughout history, people searched for the answers to these questions. A prince of a small kingdom in India left his kingdom and searched for the answers, and finally, he came up with his best shot, saying that life is the endless cycle of reincarnation and that if you want to be a human in the next life, you must be merciful to others. People welcomed this idea and made a religion of it, called, “Buddhism.” Ancient Greek philosophers had sharp arguments about this, saying that we came from water, or fire, or dirt, or atom. Modern day, this argument is still going on among so-called brilliant or genius scientists, saying that we came from nothing but a huge explosion called big-bang or that we came from amoeba or monkeys. These ideas were nothing but their guess work or imagination. All of them died in ignorance. They caused great confusion in human society. Frankly speaking, no one knew the answers to these questions.

 

But here, we find the only person who knew where he came from and who he was, that is, Jesus Christ. He says, “but I know him because I am from him and he sent me.” In verse 33, Jesus also says, “I am with you for only a short time, and then I go to the one who sent me.” At the last supper, right before Jesus’ arrest, the disciples were distressed in heart so much at the thought of losing their loving Master. Then, in John 16:28, Jesus comforted them and showed them the meaning of his death on the cross, saying, “I came from the Father and entered the world; now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father.” He knew where he came from and where he was going. So he was confident of what was going on and what was going to happen to him – nothing to worry about. When people come to the end of their lives, they are so scared because of their unknown destiny. They were born into the world without knowing where they came from, and they leave the world without knowing where they are going. They live in darkness. All people in the world cry out in unison, “Who am I? What shall I do? How should I live my life?” Who can show us the truth? If you go to Buddha, he will tell you, “Before, you were a cockroach. Because you were a good cockroach, you became a human. After this life, you will become a mosquito.” If you go to Confucius, he will tell you, “Are you asking me these questions? Please tell me the answers! If I hear the truth in the morning, it is okay even to die in the evening.” If you go to Socrates, the great philosopher, he will say, “Know yourself.” If you ask the world about this, the world will say, “Build your career and pay the bills successfully; that’s the truth!” Jesus is the only person who knew where he came from, who he was, and why he was there in the world. The whole world is in darkness, but Jesus is the light. Whatever he says is the truth that brings to us bright light. Listen to him, and follow him, and you will know the truth. If anyone wants to open his eyes to see the truth, he must come to Jesus and listen to him. Jesus says in John 8:12, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” God sent Jesus, and Jesus knew God and God’s will. Whoever follows Jesus the light of the world comes to know the truth, and lives in the light. As Jesus teaches us, now we know the truth: We came from God, and we are going back to God; throughout my life here on earth, I enjoy, love and serve Him and I will go back to Him some day. Jesus proclaims, “You do not know him, but I know him because I am from him and he sent me.”

 

Look at verses 30 through 32. People were offended at Jesus’ words because he said that they did not know God, but he knew him; they were Jews who had attended worship service lifelong and read the Bible a lot. But Jesus did not give them any credit; instead, he plainly told them that they didn't know God. But no one laid a hand on him, because his time had not yet come. Still, many in the crowd put their faith in Jesus. But the author apostle John points out here that their faith was not based on his words, but on his miracles, indicating that their faith was not genuine. What did the Pharisees do when they realized that many people came to believe in Jesus due to his teaching in the temple courts? They were alarmed and sent temple guards to arrest him.

 

Second, “You will look for me, but you will not find me” (33-36). Let’s read verses 33 and 34 together:

 

33Jesus said, "I am with you for only a short time, and then I go to the one who sent me. 34You will look for me, but you will not find me; and where I am, you cannot come."

 

       Jesus knew that he came from the Father and was going back to the Father. Because he knew the truth, whatever happened, or whatever people might say about him whether good or bad, he did not have any problem. He was confident of what was going on and what he was doing. To the people who were full of suspicion, Jesus said to them, “I am with you for only a short time, and then I go to the one who sent me. You will look for me, but you will not find me, and where I am, you cannot come.” These words of Jesus added more confusion and suspicion to them because they did not believe in him. Jesus was talking about his death on the cross. When death comes, people are scared; they are terrified. Before death, people betray others and give up their integrity in attempt to avoid death. But Jesus was not like that; he remained calm, because he knew why death was coming to him and what it was about to him - it was not something dreadful, such as extinction of his existence or the end of everything, but it was the way he would go back to the Father who had sent him. Because he knew the truth, he was confident of what was going to happen to him and what he was doing.

 

       Jesus said to them, “You will look for me, but you will not find me; and where I am, you cannot come.” His statement is really remarkable and makes us think about it once more. Why, after rejecting and killing him, would they look for Jesus? Here, we see Jesus' confidence in victory through his death on the cross. Right then, they didn't believe in Jesus as the one sent by God, the Promised Messiah. But Jesus was sure that through his death on the cross, they would realize who he was, the Son of God, the Promised Messiah, whom they had been waiting for. So, they would look for Jesus so that they would go to heaven through him. Why then, even if they look for Jesus, will they not be able to find Jesus? Why, despite their desire to go to heaven even through Jesus Christ, will they not come to heaven? It is really painful to recognize that even if many people look for Jesus to go to heaven, they can neither find him nor come to heaven. Actually, this is exactly what Jesus warns about. He says, "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will come to heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father." By saying, "but only he,..." Jesus excludes any exception - only those who do the will of the Father in heaven can enter the kingdom of God. Why do people fail to come to heaven even if they call Jesus "Lord, Lord" accepting him as the Savior? It is because they don't do the will of God; they simply don't obey God's will and purpose upon their life; they simply don't live for God, but for themselves. While doing so, they try to secure a free ticket to heaven through Jesus. Such people look for Jesus, but cannot find him; where Jesus is, they cannot come. No one can sneak into the kingdom of heaven by submitting the right password. No one can deceive God. Jesus also shows us how we can and must follow him, saying, "Whoever wants to come after me must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me." Again, by saying, "Whoever" and "must," Jesus shows that there is no exception in this matter. Why do people fail to find Jesus? Why do people fail to go to heaven? It is because they do not deny themselves and do not take up their cross to follow Jesus. In the Pilgrim's progress, we saw how the pilgrims - Christian, Faithful and Hopeful - struggled hard to remain in the right path - it was hard, but right, so despite all challenges and difficulties, persecutions and temptations, they remained in the right path which led them to the celestial city. But other half-hearted pilgrims whose hearts were not completely determined to remain in the right path were sidetracked when difficulties rose and temptations came; they chose byways, and eventually, all of them were misled to destructions. God says in the book of Jeremiah, "You will seek me and find me if you seek me with all your heart." (Jer 29:13) If we want to find Jesus, we must seek him with all our heart and strength; we must pursue him doing God's work with all our heart and strength. If we want to come to heaven and see Jesus there, we must do the will of our Father in heaven; we must live for God, not for ourselves. Those who seek God above all other things, those whose hearts and lives are fully dedicated to God come to the kingdom of heaven. When we look for Jesus with all our hearts, surely, we will find Him, the Creator God, and as we come to know Him, our joy will be complete; we grow to be God’s children, God’s servants and God’s friends enjoying fellowship with Him. I pray that all of us may find Jesus and we all may come to where Jesus is - the kingdom of God.

 

Did the people in Jerusalem understand what Jesus was talking about? No. They were confused more. When they did not put their trust in Jesus, they could not understand the word of Jesus at all. The Creator God was with them and taught them the word of God face to face and showed them the way of life. They had a great privilege to have Bible study with the Creator God. But when they did not put their trust in Jesus, they ended up forsaking all the blessings Jesus had brought to them.

 

Third, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me” (37-52). Let’s read verses 37 and 38 together:

 

37On 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. 38 Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him."

 

       The Feast of Tabernacles lasted for eight days. During these eight days, the priest drew water from the pool of Siloam with a gold pitcher and poured it on the altar. On the eighth day, called, “the last and greatest day,” all the people gathered together and circled around the temple seven times, and the priest poured out the water on the altar. Then, the trumpet sound blasted and all people sang a song of thanks based on Isaiah 12:3, which says, “With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.” This was called, “the Water-Pouring Ceremony.” It was the climax of the Feast of Tabernacles. This program was to celebrate the event that water gushed out from the rock in the desert and quenched the thirst of their forefathers. Figuratively speaking, here the rock refers to Jesus, and the water the Holy Spirit. After this ceremony, the Feast ended, and people folded their booths and went back home. On that day, Jesus stood up 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.” Why did Jesus speak this message aloud especially on the last and greatest day? All people enjoyed the Feast fully, including the Water pouring ceremony. They celebrated the salvation of God who quenched the thirst of their forefathers with water from the rock. But the problem was, as they folded up their tents to go home, they were still thirsty. During the Feast, they were happy and excited with many fun programs - most authentic ones that carried biblical meaning. But as the Feast, as the festival was over, they felt empty and thirsty. Their souls could not be satisfied with that kind of fun program, or ceremonies, even though such things were very biblical. So, embracing their empty souls, many people wandered here and there committing sins. That’s why the next passage in John’s gospel is about the woman who was caught in the act of adultery. Jesus saw that even these biblical activities and programs could not give them true satisfaction; he saw the unquenched thirst of their souls and invited them to himself for true satisfaction, saying, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink...”

 

This invitation of Jesus is really for us. We all understand what Jesus is talking about. In our Christian life, there are many ceremonies we celebrate – conferences, Sunday worship services, and other special meetings. Recently, we attended the ISBC 2018, traveling all the way to Louisville, Kentucky – we were like the Israel people, travelling all the way to Jerusalem to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. At the conference, the Holy Spirit worked powerfully that we were all greatly blessed. After this conference, we were satisfied. But not always we have this kind of great time with the Holy Spirit at the conferences. Instead, after serving the conferences, often, we are tired, or even feel empty. Our worship service is important for our Christian life, yet still, even if we keep such important ceremonies – biblical and meaningful, often, we find ourselves empty and unsatisfied. Sometimes, after serving God’s work wholeheartedly and sacrificially through fishing and one to one Bible studies, we feel empty and thirsty. There are certain areas in our souls that cannot be filled with such practices. Jesus understands this very well, so he invites us to himself for true satisfaction, saying, “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.”

 

Keeping the feasts is something all God’s people must do, since God commands. Actually, all these feasts and ceremonies point to Jesus Christ – through all these feasts and ceremonies, we are to come to Jesus, remembering his grace and renewing our hearts’ love and thanks for him. But when we forget about this real point, but just do programs and ceremonies and activities, often, after doing all these important ceremonies, we feel tired and empty, instead of being renewed in spirit and mind. This is what happens to many Christians very often. This is what we also experience. That’s why Jesus invites all of us to himself, saying, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink.” Don’t wander around here and there, looking for more money or romantic relationships. You are thirsty. You just need to come to Jesus.

 

Jesus says, “Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” This is what Jesus promises for anyone who comes to him. The expression, “streams of living water” refers to abundance in satisfaction and happiness and in the sense of fulfillment. Living water is the water that is really good and thereby quenches your thirst, bringing into your soul such sense of satisfaction, happiness and fulfillment. Living water is really good. When you drink it, you really like it. But what about you have only two drops of living water? It’s so good, but??!!! Jesus promises not just a few drops of living water, but streams of living water – great river flowing so abundantly that you drink freely as much as you want – you enjoy that kind of great sense of fulfillment - your life carries such meaning and purpose, and you are satisfied and overjoyed.

 

Also the expression, “flow from within you” shows that such great sense of fulfillment, happiness and thanks is not dependent on outward circumstances. Maybe, your practical condition is not so favorable. Maybe, you still have a financial burden; you still have a job problem; maybe, fig trees do not bud in the field; your sheep pen is still empty, and your cows have miscarriage. Yet despite such challenging circumstances, you have such deep peace, joy, thanks and sense of fulfillment in your heart. Streams of living water flows from within you that you say, “I have all I need. My cup overflows.” This is what Christian life is about, and this is what happens to everyone who comes to Jesus and drink. If you do not have this living water flowing from within you despite your hard struggle to do God’s work, simply come to Jesus.

 

Again, how can we have this living water flowing from within us? Jesus says, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me,…” Jesus here uses two expressions – “come to me and drink,” and “Whoever believes,” and these two expressions actually are the same. When you feel empty, or thirsty or tired even after keeping the Feast of Tabernacles, or even after serving great conferences, you simply need to come to Jesus, maybe in prayer or in deep testimony writing. Notice here that coming to Jesus is very personal. You come to Jesus in prayer and struggle to remember what He has done for you, how He loves you and how He has guided you, and what great plans He has for you. As you talk to God about these things before him in prayer, you see that Jesus becomes so real to you – how he loves you, how good he has been to you; His grace becomes so real and thereby you are so touched and thankful that from the depth of your heart, you express your thanks and love to him. There you really worship Him, praising him and thanking him. There, you are satisfied and happy; there, your spirit is renewed, and streams of living water flow from within you. This is the real essence of our Christian life that by coming to Jesus, by renewing your confidence in Jesus, your faith in his goodness and love for you, streams of living water flow from within you. At the center of our Christian life is Jesus Christ our Lord who loves us so much, and who has become the source of joy and thanks and satisfaction for all Christians. Whenever your faith in him is renewed, whenever you believe, streams of living water will flow from within you. The Feasts such as the Feast of Tabernacles, or the ceremonies such as our conferences or Sunday worship services serve this purpose. If we do all these things excellently, but miss Jesus, then, we become nothing but religious people just like the Muslims – when we perform well, we become proud, but when we do not perform well, we feel so miserable. We cannot survive as Christians by just doing all those things – such boring Christian life. Instead, we must seek Jesus and secure him in our Christian life through all those struggles – as a community of God’s people, we keep those feasts and ceremonies, and as an individual we come to Jesus and drink through prayer and the word of God. Our whole struggle is to come to him and believe. Then, streams of living water will flow from within us. Today, Jesus invites all of us, saying, “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.”

 

One more thing, here, we notice is the expression, “as the Scripture has said.” Here, the Scripture refers to the Old Testament from Genesis to Malachai. People may have many different ideas about the Old Testament. But in Jesus’ eyes, the Old Testament’ main theme is that, by coming to the Christ, people would have streams of living water flowing from within them – such satisfaction, such fulfillment – their life carries real meaning and purpose; their life is valuable, and as they live that kind of life, they are so happy and satisfied. Simply, in Jesus’ eyes, the Old Testament talks about people having zoe, that truly fulfilling life in him. This is what the New Testament also talks about. This is what God desires for all of us – we may have such a wonderful life in Christ! Our God is indeed good. Trust in God and believe so that you can have this wonderful life in Christ.

 

       Look at verses 40 through 52. This final message of Jesus moved many people’s hearts. So they said, “Surely this man is the Prophet.” Others said, “He is the Christ.” How come, at this message, they were very touched? It was because this message really hit the head of the nail – the very matter they had – despite keeping the Feast, they had deep void, and Jesus mentioned about it and invited them to himself. But still others rejected Jesus because of his human background. The temple guards who had been sent by the religious leaders were also moved by Jesus’ message. So instead of arresting him, they went back to those who had sent them and declared to them, saying, “No one ever spoke the way this man does.” But the Jews rejected Jesus because of their jealousy. Nicodemus, however, who had visited Jesus earlier tried to maintain justice.

 

       In this passage, we heard Jesus’ invitation to himself for a truly meaningful and fulfilling life. If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Jesus and drink. Jesus is the only One who solves our thirst problem and who leads us to an abundant life. Only he is our Savior. Today, let's accept his invitation and come to him. Whoever believes in him, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.

 

One Word: Streams Of Living Water Will Flow From Within You

 

 

 

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