First Mennonite Church
June 14, 2020
Text: Jeremiah 31:25; John 7:37-39
Drinking From the Living Water
I will satisfy the weary,
and all who are faint I will replenish. (Jeremiah 31:25)
The context of these words is God’s promise of total restoration for the people of Israel. Jeremiah chapter 31 is the announcement of God’s coming to the rescue of his people. Israel had been longing for God’s deliverance from their captivity. The first section in this announcement ends with God making the promise of refreshing his people, as if to someone who has been at the verge of dying of thirst.
Thirst is the translation of the Hebrew word sama, or from the Greek, dipsos. Dipsos is the base word for the English medical term used to describe the craving alcoholics have for drinking: “dipsomania.” It is the extreme feeling thirstiness.
Thirst, in most languages, is used as the synonym for the strong desire for something, like thirst for learning, for wealth, for fame, for power, etc. In this sense, thirst means the insatiable desire to acquire something. In the Bible we hear the Psalmist cry, “My soul thirsts for God, for the living God” (42:2).
Today, our world is thirsting. We thirst for peace and for orderliness. We thirst for normality and for mutual respect. We thirst for inner tranquility and for social harmony. We are thirsting today. We are exhausted and many are at the brink of falling into depression not only because of everything that is happening, but also for the intensity in which things are happening.
One of the common complaints we hear a lot today is, “I am sick and tired of what is happening!” People are tired about many things. But not only are people exhausted about the conditions of the world, they are also desperately trying to ease, to quench, or to satisfy their longings, discomforts, or deep yearnings. Just as it is with physical thirst, which make us look for water, people are continuously seeking to quench their thirst with something. It is very interesting how we humans work hard at finding satisfaction. Some eat; others work non-stop; still others, seek satisfaction through pleasure. Yet, the thirst continues. These efforts in seeking satisfaction apart from Lord would be like what Yahweh lament about his people.
Be appalled, O heavens, at this,
be shocked, be utterly desolate,
says the Lord,
13 for my people have committed two evils:
they have forsaken me,
the fountain of living water,
and dug out cisterns for themselves,
that can hold no water. (Jeremiah 2:12-13)
To seek sustenance for the soul apart from God is similar to finding water from a dry well. Thus every human effort of quenching its thirst apart from God will not bring satisfaction.
In John, we find Jesus offering living water during one of Israel’s festivals.
7:37 On the last day of the festival, the great day, while Jesus was standing there, he cried out, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, 7:38 and let the one who believes in me drink. As the scripture has said, ‘Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water.'” 7:39 Now he said this about the Spirit, which believers in him were to receive; for as yet there was no Spirit, because Jesus was not yet glorified. (John 7:37-39
In the morning of the seven days of the festival, the priests would go to the Pool of Siloam to fetch water with their silver jars and bring it to the cisterns in the temple court. The people followed behind, as the priests would go and come, singing and dancing. It was indeed a festive occasion for the pilgrims. But on the seventh day, the last and most important day of the festival, the priests and the people would go seven times to and from the pool to the temple. The abundant water fetched that last day was supposed to illustrate the abundance of God’s mercy, patience, and provision for his people Israel. John tells us that on the last and most important day in the Festival, Jesus stands in the middle of the crowds and makes a public announcement. He cries out, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes drink. As the scripture has said, ‘Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water.’”
If seven trips of water fetched represented God’s abundant mercy, faithfulness and provision, which was reason for great rejoicing, how much greater joy would there be if there were a river overflowing its banks? That was the contrast Jesus wanted to highlight. Cisterns would eventually run dry and cracked cisterns will hold no water at all. To you and me, however, are being offered a spring of living water, God’s continuous presence and fullness in our life.
These days, in the middle of the economic meltdown and the ongoing social discontentment, many are just managing to stay afloat, hanging on in there, or barely surviving, as people say. How are we followers of Jesus doing? Although we share the same circumstance, I believe the Lord’s presence in our life empowers us to have a difference outlook and attitude about the world’s condition. The Lord’s Spirit is our source of peace and strength.
It is in times like these that we should remember our calling. We have been called to be the salt of the world. We have been called to be the light of the world. We have been called to be signs of God’s hope, peace, and righteousness for the world. From our heart shall a river of living water flow because the Lord has given us the fullness of his Spirit to live in us.
If we envision the implications there are about a river, we will be able to understand how important it is to having a river of living water flowing from our heart. By nature, a river winds along the lowest point of the landscape, bringing life to the valleys. A river flows along towns and cities, sharing its fresh water and being a source of joy to those living by it. A river is a blessing. Here in San Miguel, the only green ribbon in the landscape is the riverbed, otherwise, the landscape would look pretty much a desert. The Lord wants to make from each of us a source of hope, life, and joy to those around us.
“Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes drink. As the scripture has said, ‘Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water.’” First, we must acknowledge our thirst, come to the source and drink. Drinking from the Living Water is a continuous need. Jesus was not speaking of a once-and-for-all drinking from the Living fountain. The verbs thirsts, comes, drinks, and believes are all in present tense, indicating continuous action. We must constantly be thirsting, coming, drinking, and believing in Jesus. We never end having thirst, so we never stop coming and being refreshed in the Lord.
John also clarifies Jesus’ words that the “rivers of living water” refer to the Spirit the believers would receive. In the Hebrew language as well as in the Greek language, Spirit is the same word for wind. And just as “living water” means water in motion and not stagnant, so is the biblical portrait of the Spirit of God. It is always in motion. In Genesis we read that the Spirit of God hoovered over the watery cosmos. In the Gospels, the Spirit led Jesus. In Act of the Apostle, the Spirit of God alighted upon the 120 disciples in the upper room and also empowered them. The living water flowing from our heart is the movement of God’s Spirit in our life.
My dear brothers and sisters, because the Spirit of God lives in us, our hearts burst with joy. When the living water overflows, each of us becomes the medium by which God’s peace, tranquility, and joy are revealed to our neighbors, and friends. God wants his joy, will, and assurance reach out to the world through us. We have a purpose to fulfill today. God has not placed us here and now just to survive, as the world does. The Lord has placed us in this time around to become his witnesses. And that can only happen when we come, drink, and stay connected with the Lord, who is the fountain Living Water.
The wonderful song, Fill My Cup, Lord by Richard Blanchard, in number 271 in the Blue Hymnal, goes in part:
Like the woman at the well I was seeking
For things that could not satisfy;
And then I heard my Savior speaking:
“Draw from My well that never shall run dry.”
Fill my cup Lord, I lift it up Lord,
Come and quench this thirsting of my soul,
Bread of heaven, feed me ‘til I want no more,
Fill my cup, fill it up and make me whole!
The river of living water is in our heart, let us allow it to flow to others so that they might know where to quench their thirst. Let us allow the Spirit of God to wash us, to cleanse us, and to renew us each day. Here is Jesus’ invitation once again: “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes drink. As the scripture has said, ‘Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water.’” Let us come and drink from him. Amen!