On the last and most important day of the festival, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone is thirsty, he should come to Me and drink! The one who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, will have streams of living water flow from deep within him.” He said this about the Spirit. Those who believed in Jesus were going to receive the Spirit, for the Spirit had not yet been received because Jesus had not yet been glorified.
This scripture finds us at the pinnacle of the Feast of Tabernacles, the very last day. Much like the cauldron at the opening of the Olympic Games is lit, Jesus chooses this moment to stand up and proclaim who He is. He was heralding publicly in front of thousands that the Messiah had come—and He was it. Imagine the electricity in the air! Imagine the charge His disciples must have felt hearing these words!
His imagery of the Holy Spirit as living water is critical for such a barren, dry land. People knew about being thirsty. Think of His conversation with the Samaritan woman, who went to the well, especially at midday.
The context of this passage is important to understand the role of the Holy Spirit Jesus was describing. At the Feast of Tabernacles, water was poured out daily at the altar to remind everyone of the water God miraculously provided for a thirsty Israel in the wilderness. This represented the people’s physical thirst, but Jesus takes it up an eternal level. Here, He calls out that we are more than just one part. Like the image of the Trinity we are made in, we are three parts: spirit, soul, and body (and all thirst). He is the eternal Thirst-Quencher for every part of us.
When our souls are dry, we physically lag. When our spirits are thirsty, our minds suffer. When we are outside and get overheated, not only do our wells of energy run dry but our spiritual reserves are spent. There is nothing left to move us forward, no matter how willing our hearts and spirits are; if our bodies suffer, so does the rest of us. We must be refilled. Our thirst, regardless of the origin in mind, body, or spirit, drives us to the well (or hose or faucet). It all relates together.
Not only do we need to be poured into, but we have to complete that eternal water cycle. We need to pour out into others to keep the streams of living water moving. We need to give out what we’ve been given by God. My husband would see it more as a pipeline than a cycle. Pipelines, in order to be the best vessels, need to be open on both ends and clear in the middle; so should we be in order for the Holy Spirit to come in and flow out, with nothing holding Him back. We are to be quenched to overflowing, and then pouring into others. The process is meant to be a constant coming in and going out.
There are times when that river is at flash-flood stage, and other seasons when it is calm, where people can come and find rest. Yet, always the water flows.
Come, Holy Spirit, and flow into my heart. Refresh me and quench my thirst for You in mind, body, and soul. Wash away anything that blocks Your loving presence, not just to remember Your promises but to be reassured of Your goodness and mercy. Let that hope flow through me into others. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Imagine you were one of the crowd hearing Jesus’ words. What stands out to you the most?
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