The Swine flu has finally visited our house this last week, and my husband was the recipient. It hit him quite hard with a high fever and extreme body aches which made it painful for him to move let alone get out of bed. My daughters and I took turns making sure he had fluids to drink and anything else he needed. However one day we all happened to be gone and he needed some water to drink. He frantically texted all of us asking for some cold water to quench his thirst, but none of us were home at the time. He had to decide whether to muster up his strength to go to the kitchen to get a drink or wait for one of us to come home. (we live in a very tall Victorian house and the kitchen seems a long way from the bedroom when you are ill). I think he padded down the hall to the bathroom for some tap water to alleviate some of his thirst. He was grateful when I returned home and brought him a tall glass of ice cold water for his parched throat.
Here in the U.S. we always have access to ample supplies of water for drinking. Most of us do not what it is like to have an unquenched thirst. In Jesus’ day, water was life to the people of Israel. It was vital to their existence as people and as a nation. Without the modern ways of transporting water, they were dependent on water from wells, rivers, and springs. So when Jesus stood in the town centre one day and shouted to the crowd, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink,” he was talking in a way that baffled the people. How could someone get water from a man? Then he added, “Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said,’ Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.'” And then they understood.
Jesus always chose the most poignant times to teach the Jewish people and his disciples the life lessons he wanted them to learn. This particular lesson came on the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles.
It was a weeklong festival designed to remind the Jews of their desert wanderings with Moses and the Lord’s provision for them. They spent the week living in shacks or booths meant to remind them of their time in the desert. Grandfathers and fathers retold the tale of how Moses struck the rock in the desert with the Rod of God and water gushed forth to quench the thirst of millions. Then each day the priest would lead a procession from the Pool of Siloam to the temple. Another priest would fill a golden pitcher with water from the pool and carry it to the temple through the Water Gate. There he would ceremoniously pour the water onto the altar, while the people sang psalms. On the seventh day, they would do this ceremony seven times. (Ezek. 47:1-7; Zech. 13:1).
It is in the context of this highly religious and symbolic week that Jesus makes the pronouncement that He is the water that the people need. No longer do they need to look to the priest, or the law, or the religious leaders for their water. They need only look to him.
There is a soul-thirst in all of us that seeks to be quenched. But like the crowd in Jesus’ day, we often seek to satisfy our thirst with other things. We turn to the media, entertainment, relationships, and even “religion” to fulfill our desires. As spiritual dehydration sets in we take it up a notch and frantically seek for something to quench our thirst, yet nothing fulfills.
Jesus is all we need to satisfy our thirst. When we believe in Him and drink up His Word is it like a tall glass of ice cold water to our parched throats. As we continue to drink in all that He has for us, we become satisfied and we can then pour out rivers of blessing to others.
Are you thirsty? Jesus invites you to come; come thirsty.