Good morning and welcome to Thursday’s podcast. I do hope that you have been able to stay warm and dry over the course of this week.
Today we tackle the second half of John chapter 7… verses 35-53. Today I am going to focus on v37-38.
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. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.”
So, here is the question I want to wrestle with today, “what do you desire?” What are your core motivations, what drives you to do the things that you do?
We long for belonging? To be accepted? To be known and loved?
We long to be free? To be in control, to choose, to make up our own minds?
We long to feel safe? To no longer be afraid? To know comfort from the chaos and the pain?
We long for justice? For wrongs to be put right, for life to be fair and equal?
We long to be significant? To make our mark, to leave a legacy, to make a difference?
So what do you desire? What is your heart longing, what is your deepest need?
Jesus said “let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink.”
“Thirst” here is to desire, to long for, to be aware of lack. If we’ve not had a drink for a few hours we know about it… we feel thirsty.
In the same way if our internal desires are not met they can begin to shout for attention, they can demand action and fulfilment.
How does this work? How does this play out?
Well let’s take a basic human desire – to be loved and accepted. What happens when we have a bad day at work, we’ve upset a colleague, or incurred the wrath of the boss, or feel that we have let someone down? Our basic desire is not met, we feel hurt, we look for ways to satisfy that deficit. We look for ways to fill that gaping hole. So we seek comfort? We might search out good friends? We might withdraw, pull up the drawbridge to protect ourselves from further hurt. We might open the fridge and eat, have a drink or access porn. We might go shopping and buy something shiny and new. But it’s only a quick fix and depending on the quick fix it might be followed by guilt and shame…
Or what about our need to feel safe and secure? If we experience fear financially, relationally, or from people in power what do we do? Do we seek financial gain to guard against an uncertain future? Do we dominate those around us to ensure we are in control and so cannot be harmed? Do we build emotional walls around our hearts to prevent others getting close to us?
Or have we been made to feel worthless and insignificant and as a result become driven, determined to prove others wrong and win at life?
“Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.”
We all have needs and unmet desires. Jesus invites all of us to come to him and drink. And if we come to him, he will satisfy our deepest longings and desires.
It’s not that these desires disappear so we don’t want safety and security any more. It is that they are satisfied and our thirst is quenched, but rather our safety and security is no longer found in stuff… it’s found in Jesus.
How do we do that?
Well, Jesus says “whoever believes in me” – whoever believes in Jesus, who places their confidence in him. Whoever trusts him… has faith in him… not only will our thirst be quenched but streams of living water will flow from within us…
This isn’t just some intellectual exercise, although filling our heads and our hearts with the promises of God is part of the process, it is a real, genuine, life changing encounter with the promised Holy Spirit.
Have you ever been caught up in wonder, have you ever experienced God’s presence and tears have welled up in your eyes? Have you ever felt his presence wash over you, no matter how fleeting?
God is love, God is real, the Holy Spirit is real, Jesus is real and his death on the cross really happened. It means that we don’t even have to work hard or prove ourselves worthy, we stop, we turn to God and he sends his Spirit. We read the Bible, we pray and God reveals our misplaced desires, we turn to him, take up our cross every day, we deny ourselves – put an end to our desires, control of our actions and we grow, he sets us free…
Yes it takes work and persistence, yes God will sometimes have to prise our fingers off of the stuff in our lives that we have put our confidence in, the stuff where we find comfort and respite from life…
but he loves you and me.
He knows what will bring us life and enable that life to flood out of us to the world around us.
This is the gospel… this is good news… this is freedom… this is transformation, salvation and redemption. This is putting off the old self and putting on the new, this is the better life, the God life… the life that God has called us to.
Father, thank you for your great love for us. Thank you for Jesus and his offer to meet quench our every thirst, to fulfil every desire. Thank you for his life, his death, his resurrection and Pentecost – the outpouring of his spirit on those who believe. Meet us today, heal us today, refine us today we pray. Amen.
READING: John 7:35-53
The Jews said to one another, ‘Where does this man intend to go that we cannot find him? Will he go where our people live scattered among the Greeks, and teach the Greeks? What did he mean when he said, “You will look for me, but you will not find me,” and “Where I am, you cannot come”?’
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. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.’ 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.
On hearing his words, some of the people said, ‘Surely this man is the Prophet.’
Others said, ‘He is the Messiah.’
Still others asked, ‘How can the Messiah come from Galilee? Does not Scripture say that the Messiah will come from David’s descendants and from Bethlehem, the town where David lived?’ Thus the people were divided because of Jesus. Some wanted to seize him, but no one laid a hand on him.
Finally the temple guards went back to the chief priests and the Pharisees, who asked them, ‘Why didn’t you bring him in?’
‘No one ever spoke the way this man does,’ the guards replied.
‘You mean he has deceived you also?’ the Pharisees retorted. ‘Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed in him? No! But this mob that knows nothing of the law – there is a curse on them.’
Nicodemus, who had gone to Jesus earlier and who was one of their own number, asked, ‘Does our law condemn a man without first hearing him to find out what he has been doing?’
They replied, ‘Are you from Galilee, too? Look into it, and you will find that a prophet does not come out of Galilee.’