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An Invitation to Discipleship | If Anyone Thirsts
March 20, 2022
37On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. 38Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ ” 39Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.
During this series in Lent we are looking at what it means to be an apprentice or a disciple of Jesus. In this text, Jesus invites us to come to him to have our thirst quenched. This happens by means of the Holy Spirit, whose outpouring is secured by Jesus' own death. This loving sacrifice of Christ reveals the glory of God powerfully to us, and hence the crucifixion is referenced in this passage as Jesus being glorified. Jesus invites us to believe in him and have our thirst quenched forever.
To discover and experience Jesus Christ in our midst
To cultivate mutually encouraging relationships
To participate in God’s mission to the world
Faithful God, our parched spirits thirst for you. Gathered here in your presence, may we witness again your power and glory. Feed our hungry souls with the food that truly satisfies. Quench our dry mouths and fill them with your praise. Be known to us here, as we seek after you. Amen.
Responsive Prayer—Psalm 63:1-8
1O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
2So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory.
3Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you.
4So I will bless you as long as I live; in your name I will lift up my hands.
5My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips.
6When I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night;
7For you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.
8My soul clings to you; your right hand upholds me.
1. Jesus' Fulfillment
From a popular devotional on the Feast of Tabernacles:
“During the time of the feast, each Israelite family was supposed to construct a booth, or sukkah, and live in it for a week. These booths were small, temporary shelters with thatched roofs of palm fronds and other plants, and according to one interpretation of v.41, they were decorated with different kinds of fruit that grew in Palestine. Later generations obeyed the command to rejoice with fruit and foliage by having men carry an etrog, or citron, and a lulav in joyful processions. A citron is a citrus fruit native to the Middle East that looks something like a large lemon, and a lulav is a branch of palm with two myrtle branches bound to one side of it and three willow branches to the other. Furthermore, in keeping with Sukkot’s purpose to remember the wilderness journey, later Israelites added a water-pouring ceremony to recall those occasions when the Lord gave Israel water in the desert (Ex. 17:1–7; Num. 20: 1–13). The officiating priest would draw water from the pool of Siloam and pour it into the basin near the altar in the temple.”
Jesus is presenting himself as the fulfillment of this feast. The Apostle Paul says the Israelites time of wandering, “For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ” (1 Co 10:4 cf. Num 20:1-3).
- How does understanding the particularly joyful nature of this feast help this text become more meaningful to you?
2. Jesus' Declaration and Invitation
When Jesus says, “if anyone thirsts let him come to me and drink,” he is making both a universal declaration and invitation. The declaration is that you were uniquely designed for communion with Jesus Christ and will be “thirsty” apart from him. The invitation is to believe in Jesus Christ and receive life-giving streams of living water welling up within you forever.
- Some people may not know they are “thirsty.”
- How can we be unaware of our “thirst” in times of suffering?
- How can we be unaware of our “thirst” in times of prospering?
- Some people may not find Jesus’ declaration or invitation plausible.
- We don’t wish to over-infer from claims of science. However, we can be encouraged to know that our faith doesn’t always collide with the latest scientific research. Often, the observations of science comport with faith in Christ in surprising ways.
- Are you surprised to know that brain scans actually show people are hard-wired for religious activity?
3. Jesus' Rejection
Jesus was not a welcome guest at his own feast. Rather, the Pharisees sought to have him arrested. Their self-reliance upon their own knowledge of religion, their own sense of being good people, and perhaps their love of being honored as the leaders kept them from seeing their need for Jesus.
- What is keeping you from accepting Jesus’ invitation?
Blessed by God’s Spirit and strengthened by Christ, our Living Water, we go to bless God’s world with love He offers to us.