NOVEMBER 29 2015

The Need of the Thirsty


Scripture reading: John 7:1-9; 14-15; 37-39. 


[I. Introduction] In the previous chapter, chapter six, the Lord Jesus presented Himself as food for the hungry. That was at the feast of Passover which is at the beginning of the Hebrew year, that is, in early Spring. Here, Jesus presents Himself as drink for satisfaction of the thirsty. This is during the feast of Tabernacles, which is at the end of the growing season, after the harvest has been brought in.


The thought that the Lord is our food and water is seen throughout the Scriptures. For example, in Genesis 2 the tree of life is a picture of the Lord as our life supply of food. Beside the tree of life in Genesis 2 there is the river of water, which is a portrait of the Lord bringing us the rivers of living water. In other words, this pictures the Lord’s purpose in the creation of man—man must eat and drink. If he fails to eat, he will become hungry, and if he fails to drink, he will become thirsty. The Lord is the food to satisfy our hunger, and He has the living water to quench our thirst.

Later in the Scriptures, the children of Israel, as they traveled through the wilderness, also had both food and water. On the one hand, they had the manna from heaven as their daily food (Exo. 16:14-15); on the other hand, they had the living water flowing from the smitten rock to quench their thirst (Exo. 17:6).

In the Gospel of John, the Lord also is the living bread and He offers the living water to satisfy the hunger and the thirst of the multitude.

 The Father, the Son, and the Spirit, the three Persons of the Triune God, are very much related to this matter of food and water. God the Father is the source, God the Son is the food, and God the Spirit is the drink. The first Person of the Triune God is the source of the second Person as the food, from whom the third Person flows out as the drink.

Finally, we come to the end of the Scriptures, where we see the New Jerusalem. Again, the flow of the living water is the Holy Spirit, and the tree of life growing in the flow is Christ (Rev. 22:1-2). Hence, there is a line running throughout the whole Scriptures showing us that Christ is our spiritual food, that the Holy Spirit is our spiritual drink, and that man needs both to eat and to drink in order to satisfy his hunger and thirst.


Here was a feast after the harvest. The people had reaped the corn and the wine

(Deut 16:13-14) they were coming together to enjoy everything with their families, their friends, and their servants. Their labor was done. It was time to enjoy the fruits of their hard work. Water and wine were available, but they were still thirsty!


The feast of Tabernacles itself was ordained by God so that the children of Israel would remember how their fathers, while wandering in the wilderness, lived in tents (Lev. 23:39-43) with the expectation of entering into the rest of the good land. However, the experience of those celebrating here in John chapter 7 signifies:

[II.] The completion and success of life with its enjoyment. It relates the experiences of those at the feast to every person who ever lived. This means us, today. The feast of Tabernacles implies the completion of your job, achievement, and career. Although you may be successful in your occupation or career, you must realize that it will all issue in thirst. Eventually, after working your entire life, you will be thirsty, because everything has a last day. Everything ends. The last day is always a great day.  In John 6 we have a representation, in the Passover feast, of the beginning of life, which results in hunger; in John 7 we have the success and completion of life, which end in thirst. The previous case sets forth the people laboring, working, seeking, and striving to find something to satisfy their hunger, but they fail to get it. This case sets forth the people already having everything they need, but they find that it does not quench their thirst. They have obtained everything; they have enjoyed everything. But with all of their success, with all of their gain, even with all of the things connected with their feasts—their religion and their temple—their thirst cannot be quenched.


In our family devotions this past week we have been going through the book, Thanksgiving a Time to Remember by Barbara Rainey.  It has been either the third or fourth year we have done this. It is a short book, about 55 pages, with many illustrations, suitable for children as well as adults. (We highly recommend this book!) In America, one reason we celebrate Thanksgiving is to remember our rich heritage and the faith of our fathers. This was also why the Jews celebrated the feast of Tabernacles. But there was a difference: the first two winters that the Pilgrims experienced, in 1621/22 and 1622/23 were intensely difficult. The first winter nearly half of them died from disease and the second winter they nearly died from starvation. They had no bounty that second winter. Here, in John 7 as the Jews are celebrating, they experience bounty, unlike the Pilgrims during that second winter. They had everything they needed or wanted. Yet, they were still thirsty.


Therefore, these two cases compare those who are working with those who are resting. Nevertheless, regardless of whether you are working or resting, you cannot fill your hunger or quench your thirst.


On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood and cried out to the thirsty ones (7:37-39). The last day signifies the ending of all the enjoyment of any success in human life. Regardless of the kind of success you have, there will be a last day. For instance, although you may have a marvelous marriage, your marriage will not last forever.


There will be a last day for an article of clothing that you value; there will be a last day for your marriage. Everything has its last day. The feast of Tabernacles continued for seven days, but the seventh day was the last day of the feast. The last simply means an end. Regardless of how wealthy you are, there is an end. Regardless of how healthy you are, there is an end. There is:


  • a last day for your riches,
  • a last day to your health,
  • a last day with your family,
  • a last day with your dear wife or husband,
  • a last day with your parents, a last day with your children,
  • a last day with all of your circumstances—in short, a last day!


Look at the picture. Israel labored for the whole year until they harvested the corn and wine. They received everything by the labor of their hands. Finally, their labor was over, and all that was left for them to do was to come together and enjoy their harvest for seven days. The seventh day was their biggest day, yet it was the end. The last day was the day that they were all dismissed.


[III.] Even in a time of enjoyment, rest, and success there is no satisfaction. On a natural level, you might think that success in the harvest and the realized opportunity for celebration would bring satisfaction. Possibly, for the carnal minded, it does. But for those who are attuned to their innermost self it does not. Why? Is it because there is the knowledge that it is ending? That it is “the last day?” That may be part of it. But the deeper reason is that we were made for more than this. Our best expectations, when fulfilled, still leave us thirsty.


In 2014, software giant Microsoft paid $2.5 billion to acquire Mojang AB, the Swedish company that created the worldwide gaming sensation Minecraft. The deal made Markus Persson a billionaire, with a personal net worth of about $1.3 billion, according to Forbes. Persson promptly outbid Beyoncé and Jay-Z for a Beverly Hills megamansion—a $70 million home that's been described as an "overwhelming sensory experience," as the listing read, outfitted with insane amenities like M&M towers, vodka and tequila bars, a movie theater and 15 bathrooms, each equipped with toilets that cost $5,600 each.

But on August 29, 2015 Persson posted a series of tweets that captured his gnawing sense of unhappiness and dissatisfaction:

4:48am: The problem with getting everything is you run out of reasons to keep trying, and human interaction becomes impossible due to imbalance.

4:50am: Hanging out in Ibiza with a bunch of friends and partying with famous people, able to do whatever I want, and I've never felt more isolated.

4:52am: When we sold the company, the biggest effort went into making sure the employees got taken care of, and they all hate me now.

4:53am: Found a great girl, but she's afraid of me and my life style and went with a normal person instead.


One does not have to be super-rich to have this experience. It is not only the experience of the successful. It is the experience of the unsuccessful, the ones who have failed. It is the experience of the average person, the ones who have had a mixture of success and failure and still do. It is the experience of every person who pays attention to their inner self.


[IV.] The cry to come and drink. While the people were being dismissed on the last day of the feast, the Lord stood up and cried, “If anyone thirst, let him come to Me and drink” (7:37). The people were not satisfied. The things that they were enjoying during the past seven days had failed to quench their thirst. If they would come and drink of Christ, they would have rivers of living water flowing out from within their innermost being. The living water is the Holy Spirit who will flow out of the smitten rock.


The cry still goes out and is still being heard. The things of this age, even the good things, cannot satisfy our thirst, our longing.  Only Christ can satisfy. I am not talking about religion. Do you not think that those celebrating the feast of Tabernacles were religious? They were not only religious, they were the most religious! Their celebration was a religious feast. It was in Jerusalem, the most religious city. And, not just any religion, but the God-ordained religion. The Jewish faith, the feast itself, the temple, their practices were all given by God. But it was not enough.


You can be successful. You can go to church. You can be saved. But you can still be thirsty. Only Christ satisfies your thirst.  It is not just “doing the right things.” We need a Person. That Person is Christ. And, we can drink Him!


[V.] How to drink. In order to drink something I have to use the right organ. If I am thirsty, this will not help. [pour water on hand] Our hands are meant to accomplish work. Now, there is work to be done. There is work to be done in our community and there is work to be done for the Lord. Hopefully, we are doing both. But that does not satisfy our thirst.


If I am thirsty, this will not help. [pour water on head] Our heads are meant to understand things. Now, there are things to be understood. We need to be educated in the practical issues of life and in the things of God. But understanding alone does not satisfy our thirst.


If I am thirsty, this works. [drink water]. You see, the mouth is the right organ for having our thirst satisfied.


Our hands and our minds are not the right organs to satisfy our thirst for the Living God. The right organ is the human spirit. We have a body. We have a soul. But, deep within, we have a human spirit. We can drink of Christ with our spirit. When we contact Him, desiring Him, with our spirit He is so available!


Brothers and sisters, we need to take the time to get away from our labors and our thinking and simply drink Christ! Just call upon Him! “Oh, Lord Jesus!” We are never told to either pray to another human being, some dead saint, nor to drink from anyone else except Christ. There is life in no one else. Not St. Francis, not St. Jude, not St. Anybody. Only Christ. He is the Fountain of Living Waters!


When we come to Christ to drink we will discover that not only is our thirst quenched, but out of our innermost being – that is our spirit – will flow rivers of living water so that we may water others. Those rivers are the Holy Spirit.


How? Take the time to get away from our labors and our thinking and simply drink Christ! Just call upon Him! “Oh, Lord Jesus!”


To call upon the Lord is both for the sinner and the saint! The lost need Christ, but so do God’s own!



*A significant portion of this message was taken from the excellent resource, Life-Study of John by W. Lee, Living Stream Ministry.