“On 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. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, “Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’”” (John 7:37-38)
Jesus was speaking publically and openly about his identity as the Son of the living God. Some wondered if he was the Christ while the confused Jews questioned his veiled statements about “finding” him (John 7:25-36). They, of all people, should have understood his meaning about the thirst for righteousness that God alone can quench. These religious leaders should have been familiar with passages from Isaiah, Ezekiel, and the minor prophets that describe the outpouring of God’s Spirit on his people (for example: Isaiah 55:1; 58:11; Ezekiel 36:26-27; 37:14; Joel 2:28–29). Isiah 12:3 speaks of “water from the wells of salvation.” In 44:3 Isaiah prophesied of a time when God “will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour my Spirit upon your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants.”
The unity of the Holy Trinity of God is seen in the harmony of Scripture, from beginning to end. At the beginning of his ministry, Jesus taught, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied” (Matthew 5:6). Jesus challenged the Samaritan woman at the well to drink of his living water (John 4:10-14). Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body… all were made to drink of one Spirit” (1 Corinthians 12:13). In John’s vision on the Isle of Patmos, he saw “the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb” (Revelation 22:1). In many parts of the world, rivers are still associated with free drinking water, although the purity of the water is not what it used to be. Jesus promises his believers the pure, free outflowing of his Spirit to them in their new life with him, supplying spiritual comfort, guidance, gifts for service and witness, repentance, assurance of salvation, perseverance, sanctification, and glorification.
Matthew Henry commented on John 7:37-39: “This thirst means strong desires after spiritual blessings, which nothing else can satisfy; so the sanctifying and comforting influences of the Holy Spirit, were intended by the waters which Jesus called on them to come to Him and drink. The comfort flows plentifully and constantly as a river; strong as a stream to bear down the opposition of doubts and fears. There is a fullness in Christ, of grace for grace. The Spirit dwelling and working in believers, is as a fountain of living, running water, out of which plentiful streams flow, cooling and cleansing as water.” *
Proverbs 4:23 speaks of this living water, “Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” Are you vigilantly thirsting for God’s living water, his Holy Spirit, to fully appreciate the joy of Jesus’s sacrificial atonement and resurrection?
* Henry, Matthew, Commentary on the Whole Bible (Concise), Thomas Nelson, 2003.