When the Pharisees heard the crowd whispering these things about Jesus, they and the chief priests sent officers to arrest Him. So Jesus said, “I am with you only a little while longer, and then I am going to the One who sent Me. 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 feast, Jesus stood up and called out in a loud voice, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said: ‘Streams of living water will flow from within him.’” He was speaking about the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were later to receive. For the Spirit had not yet been given, because Jesus had not yet been glorified. (John 7:35-39)
People just didn’t appreciate what they had. I mean, they actually had the Son of God with them. They had the Word made flesh, the One through whom all things were created, the One in whom all things hold together.
They had a real life person to look to. They could see him do miracles. They asked, and he healed.
In contrast, we deal with the invisible. We pray into seemingly thin air.
You know, it’s super challenging when you don’t have contact with a real life person. My father in law was hospitalized last month. Because of the coronovirus, no one could visit him. My husband and I couldn’t get any information about his condition from anyone. He had gone to the emergency room in the middle of the night, and no family member knew his patient number. We called, but the nurses’s station just took our phone number and told us someone would call us. No one ever did. It was utterly frustrating.
There’s just something about having a person to interact with that makes you feel better. My husband was navigating a bank issue by phone the other day. He went through menu after menu., but couldn’t get any real help. We put our heads together, and finally found a way to get a live individual on the phone. It was hard, but we were sneaky! He was able to accomplish so much more with a customer service representative who could give us information and take care of what we needed.
I’m saying all of this to illustrate that when Jesus told people that he would only be with them for a short time, it should have been a real bummer.
But Jesus also said that even though he was going away, the situation he was leaving them with wouldn’t be like the bad customer service we have today. He was going to give them something even better than his physical presence, and that was”living water.”
Living water was the term Jews used for water that came from the sky, or from a spring, as opposed to the brackish water they stored in cisterns. The fresh, pure “living water” was that which was provided by God. You couldn’t manufacture it for yourself.
And, to give more perspective, it’s really cool that Jesus spoke about living water on the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles. This is when the priests would circle the altar seven times, and then pour an offering of water on it. According to the Jews for Jesus website, ” This was an act of prayer and an expression of dependence upon God to pour out his blessing of rain upon the earth.” Jesus was stating a clear message to his audience that he was the source of a “water” was just as divinely provided and life-giving,
How much do we need this living water today!! We need a source of power and strength that’s beyond what we can manufacture.
I know I can go a long way on my own resourcefulness and determination. But I always hit a wall. My motivation runs out. I feel powerless to go on. That’s where the Spirit comes in.
Lately, I’ve been thinking over and over of the fruits of the Spirit. I repeat them to myself: “Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control.” I know that if the Spirit is to work within me, it is going to work through these characteristics. If I’m frustrated, it’s not the Spirit. If I’m chewing on that thing I want to change, it’s not the Spirit. If I’m trying to control because I’m fearful, it’s not the Spirit.
I’ve got to constantly stop myself from having these kinds of things on my mind, and instead ask, “What does love want to do? How does joy want to bubble up? How can I tap into peace?” Then I need to ,”keep in step with the Spirit.” (Galatians 5:16) It actually helps just to say some of the words like, “patience,” “kindness” or “gentleness,” When I do, my perspective changes.
Singing also helps. Last night, my husband and I were with someone who didn’t feel well. It was heavy. Finally, we got out an song book and started singing old hymns. It was amazing how our hearts lifted. I tell you what, if you want to find the Spirit, start praising God! It was like a window to the Spirit opened, and hope and peace poured into our souls. There was living water.
Sometimes we feel so alone. The world around us is so discouraging. Everything in us is longing for connection.
The living water is there, a very real presence. Look for it. Ask for it. Deny all that quenches it. It will regenerate us, and then overflow so we can be a source of sustenance for others.