John – “But Who Do You Say That I Am?” – John 7:37-39

A few years back, the company Sprite had a catchy slogan for their soft drink. They may still use it, I don’t know, but you probably have heard it…”Obey your thirst”. It’s not only a catchy, re-memorable slogan, it is also a matter of fact where your body is concerned. Face it if you don’t drink anything, you will eventually die. It is not only important to drink but it is also important what you drink. For instance when you’re hot and thirsty, you don’t drink alcoholic beverages because they will just increase your body’s dehydration. You need water or something to boost your electrolytes if you’re really dehydrated like Gatorade or Powerade. I found out the hard way a few years back about how important it is to keep properly hydrated when you are outside on very hot days. I was working in construction back then and during lunch, instead of drinking something to boost my electrolytes or water, I drank a soda, an energy drink soda. Not going to mention the brand because it’s not important and I don’t want to get sued! LOL! The point is, these type of drinks do nothing for dehydration. In fact, I found out, that it worsens it. To make matters worse, I was so involved in working that I wasn’t drink much water. After a few hours, I fell out with severe heat cramps because my potassium levels were dangerously low. I had to drink a couple containers of Gatorade and eat a banana for my body to regain proper function again.  The most important fluid your body needs is water. It regulates body temperature, helps process food and flushes out waste. It keeps all of our body tissues in good working order so it’s important to drink lots of it. You are supposed to drink a gallon or two every day so I’ve heard.

Satisfying spiritual thirst is the same way. It is very important what you “drink” to satisfy that thirst. We have a lot of spiritually thirsty people in America today who are trying to satisfy their thirst with the wrong things; money, sex, power, status, material possessions, etcetera; instead of drinking and taking in the spiritual water of Jesus Christ even though it is offered to them time and time again. Many so called believers in Christ are just as guilty of this as unbelievers. In Jeremiah, God tells Jeremiah…

“For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, And hewn themselves cisterns—broken cisterns that can hold no water. … Jeremiah 2:13 NKJV

In Chapter 7 in John’s Gospel, we have been examining different types of spiritually thirsty people and also a group of people who resent Jesus for offering the solution to that spiritual thirst. In the last post, we left off with the beginning of what may be the greatest altar call that Jesus makes in the Gospels. He is calling out to these spiritually thirsty people and in this post, we are going to take a very close look at this altar call that Jesus makes. Unlike the last few posts where we have looked at larger passages, a much smaller passage here, just a few verses, but a wealth of spiritual knowledge in them so let’s get started! As always, the text link and audio for the entire chapter is included so you can follow along but first, let’s prepare our hearts to receive God’s Word…

Heavenly Father,

Thank You for Your Word and this time that we are about to share in it. Bless this time and make it fruitful. Lord we live in troubled times right now in our country. It may be affecting our lives in our homes, our schools, our jobs, maybe even inside the church but we turn to you Lord because it is You that will help us in times of trouble because the help of man is useless and You will tread down our enemies! Lord as we look at this passage of Your altar call that You made thousands of years ago, let us not forget that this altar call is still open and still available to those who are willing to accept it. Lord, we put away all distractions and our hearts and minds are open to hear Your Word. Speak Lord for Your servants are listening! In the saving name of Jesus we pray…Amen!

John 7

Let’s look at the very small passage for this post…

(37) On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. (38) He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” (39) But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. … John 7:37-39 NKJV

Now let’s look at this passage more closely. …

vv 37-38 – (37) On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. (38) He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.”

This takes place during the Feast of Tabernacles or Booths. The Feast of Tabernacles lasted seven days but it was followed on the eighth day by another feast called Shemini Atzeret. This is when this probably takes place. In order to understand the significance of what is happening here, you have to know what is happening in the background that God’s Word doesn’t tell you about. I did a lot of research on this and hopefully I got it right. Like I said, the Feast of Tabernacles lasted seven days. Every day of the feast, in the morning, the people would head up to the temple area, the courts, where they would be met by a priest. They would be carrying in their left hand a piece of citrus fruit symbolizing the fruitful land that God had given them. In their right hand, they would be carrying branches from three different trees…a palm branch, a willow branch, and a myrtle branch. That symbolized the 40 years of wandering around in the wilderness before they got into the Promised Land. They were singing songs as they were heading up to the temple, probably the Psalms of Ascent which is Psalms 120-134. The priest would meet them and he would have a golden pitcher full of water. They all go from the temple area to the Pool of Siloam where the priest would take the pitcher and dip it into the Pool of Siloam and they would all head back to the temple area. They would then recite the Hallel, Psalms 113-118. The priest would then take the pitcher of water, walk around the altar, and pour it out onto stones of the altar while the people sang out in unison a passage from Isaiah 12…

(3) Therefore with joy you will draw water From the wells of salvation. … Isaiah 12:3 NKJV

The pouring out of the water symbolized God’s provision of water from the rock in the desert when they were wandering around the wilderness which is told about in Exodus and again in Numbers. So you get the picture. This is done for the seven days of the feast. Now we come to the eighth day, the last day, that great day of the feast. This is the Shemini Atzeret. It is spoken about briefly in this passage from Leviticus…

(36) For seven days you shall offer an offering made by fire to the LORD. On the eighth day you shall have a holy convocation, and you shall offer an offering made by fire to the LORD. It is a sacred assembly, and you shall do no customary work on it. … Leviticus 23:36 NKJV

The water ritual is done again but this time, the priest walked around the altar seven times before pouring the water out. Why seven times? Because they marched around Jericho seven times before they actually entered the Promised Land. On the sixth time around, the priest was met by another priest carrying a container of wine. Water and wine. Wine symbolic of joy. God has given us joy—refreshment! Then the priest with the pitcher of water would ascend the steps of the altar. As he would get up and start walking, every step the people shouted louder and louder. And then he would pause at the top and lift the pitcher of water up slowly and with every little millimeter of movement the crowd shouting would get louder and louder and louder until the pitcher was at the very top that that priest could reach, then there was a hush over the crowd. Then the water would get poured out. This ceremony is called the Hoshana Rabbah, the great HOSHIANA, which translated means “save now”. This will give you an idea of what is going on in the background of this passage. So now as the priest is pouring out the water, Jesus cries out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” Can you imagine the uproar this must have caused?! The priest had just poured out the water as an appeal to God to provide water for the people, and Jesus, as if to answer the prayer, tells the people to come to Him for water. What a radical statement and shocker to the crowd! Jesus was claiming to be God Himself!

The text says that Jesus stood and cried out. The word is krazō  in Greek. It means to scream or call aloud, or to shriek. No megaphones back then and Jesus knows that there are lots of spiritually thirsty people out there so He wants to get His point across about what these people need to do! Notice that Jesus says anyone. Didn’t matter who they were, what race they might have been, whether they were God’s “chosen” people or not or anything else. He meant what He said…ANYONE! It still applies today as well! But there are a couple of conditions. First, you have to have a burning desire. Jesus says anyone who thirsts, the Greek word for it is dipsaō . There are three stages of dehydration in case you didn’t know. First, what happens is what is called dipsea which is just common thirst. If you don’t satisfy that in time, you go to the second stage which is called hyperdipsea. This is extreme bouts of thirst. That’s critical and if you don’t do something about that, you go into the third stage which is called polydipsea. This is where you have a sustained thirst where you will drink anything. Someone who is suffering from this will drink ocean water even though it is loaded with salt.

We have people today who suffer from hyperdipsea only in a spiritual sense. They will “drink” anything to get satisfied. They try to satisfy their spiritual thirst with the wrong things; money, sex, power, status, material possessions, drugs, alcohol, etc. My question is how is that working out for you? Never seems to be enough doesn’t it! A person who is suffering from hyperdipsea who is drinking ocean water to satisfy that thirst is poisoning their body because as I said, ocean water contains salt, which in large amounts, poisons the body. The same thing can be said for people who “drink” anything to satisfy their spiritual thirst. It “poisons” the body too.

The second condition is found in verse 38. Look what the text says. Jesus says…He who believes in Me. You have to believe that Jesus is the only way to satisfy that spiritual thirst, that He is the only one who can save you and grant you eternal life with the Father in heaven. Everyone believes that John 3:16 is the most important verse of The Gospel. We all know it but in case you don’t, this is what John 3:16 says…

(16) For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. … John 3:16 NKJV

However before that verse has any bearing on your life, you must believe what Jesus says in John 14:6. Jesus says in John 14:6…

(6) Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. … John 14:6 NKJV

So if you don’t believe John 14:6, John 3:16 means nothing to you and will not have any affect on your life whatsoever. I’ll take it back even a step further and what I truly believe is the most important verse of The Gospel and it isn’t found in any of The Gospels. It’s what Paul says in 1 Timothy. Turning there and in Chapter 1 down to verse 15…

(15) This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. … 1 Timothy 1:15 NKJV

What Paul is saying here is that no one is a bigger sinner and need of saving than he is. This is of course is not the case because this describes EVERYONE! Believers and non-believers alike fit this category. He is just admitting this and believing this. Notice that Paul says that he “is” and not “was” chief of sinners. Even after coming to Christ, Paul still carried this belief in him and we who come to Christ should as well but many of us don’t. How many Christians can say deep in their hearts that this their favorite verse and they truly believe this? This has become my favorite verse, though I have to remind myself of this from time to time. After all, I’m not perfect! None of us are! My customers ask me from time to time though what my favorite verse is and I rattle this one off to them and I get puzzled looks from them! LOL!

Now we come to the third and final condition. Jesus says back again in verse 37 in our passage, come to Me and drink. There has to be some kind of action on our part. We have to come. We have to put our human pride aside and admit that we are sinners, the chief of sinners, if you will and then we have to do something about it. We have to come to Jesus because we believe that He is the only way out of our fallen condition. Coming to Him is not enough though. We must drink that is to accept Jesus into our hearts, our souls, and into our lives. If you are suffering from thirst and you just walk up to a glass of water sitting on a table, and then just look at it or admire it, and not drink it, it will do nothing for you! You have to pick up the glass of water and drink it for it to do any good for you.

By Jesus telling the people let him come to Me and drink, He was telling the people that He was the way to salvation and not the ceremonial law that the Pharisees strictly enforced. This of course threw the Pharisees into a fit who held the ceremonial law sacred. The ceremonial law could do nothing though it was a sign for something better to come. The Law was given for one purpose and one purpose only…to show people how fallen their condition really was. No matter how many lambs and other animals were sacrificed year after year, it could never pacify the people’s conscience or pacify God. Now Jesus comes along and tells the people, “You don’t have to do this anymore! Come to Me!”. In Hebrews, it says…

For the law, having a shadow of the good things to come, and not the very image of the things, can never with these same sacrifices, which they offer continually year by year, make those who approach perfect. … Hebrews 10:1 NKJV

Going to verse 38 of our passage now and looking at that more closely, Jesus says He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water. We must not just believe in Christ but have a belief in Him that fits what The Bible says about believing in Him. In other words, we don’t make Jesus into what we want Him to be or what we think He should be. There is this overwhelming belief that Jesus is this loving, all forgiving God that will come back and take everyone to heaven. Nothing in The Bible claims this! If you think this way, may I suggest that you read Revelation! Yes, Jesus is a forgiving and loving God but we must come to Him on His terms not ours! We must come to Him as a true fallen, broken, sinner and in repentance and trust and believe in Him. This statement that Jesus makes here to the people probably made them flashback to what God said to Isaiah. Isaiah 55:1 says…

“Ho! Everyone who thirsts, Come to the waters; And you who have no money, Come, buy and eat. Yes, come, buy wine and milk Without money and without price. … Isaiah 55:1 NKJV

They knew what Jesus was telling them…He was telling them that He was God! By the way if you have a pastor or religious leader at your church that tells you that salvation depends on giving to their church, pull out this verse! LOL! Another good verse to rattle off to them, and one of my personal favorites, is what Peter tells Simon the magician in Acts…

(20) But Peter said to him, “Your money perish with you, because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money! … Acts 8:20 NKJV

Ouch! LOL! That’s a different topic altogether but I thought I would throw that out there. We should be cheerful givers not forced givers!

Throughout the Old Testament though it was taught that people who accepted the Messiah would not only have their own needs supplied but they would also be a blessing to others. This is the way it is supposed to be for us as well. When we come to Christ, we are not supposed to be a reservoir, taking everything in and giving nothing out, but a fountain spewing our faith to others and letting them share in the blessings that comes when one accepts Christ into their lives. The promise that Jesus makes here in verse 38 is that we will not only be blessed but we will become a blessing to others! It has been said that if one claims to be living with the Holy Spirit in them and is not sharing that with others, then the Holy Spirit is not there! Now to verse 39 to wrap up this passage. …

v 39 – (39) But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

The living water that Jesus talks about in verse 38, is in fact, The Holy Spirit. The people who had accepted and believed in Jesus at this time did not receive The Holy Spirit but Jesus was not yet glorified. Now what exactly does that mean? It means that Jesus had not been crucified and gone back to heaven yet. He hadn’t gone to the cross yet and fulfilled His mission. In about six months or so from this feast, Jesus would be crucified and after three days, be resurrected. After some time afterwards, He would then go back to the Father in heaven. When that happened, His followers received The Holy Spirit. That happens in Chapter Two of Acts, the day of Pentecost, about 50 days after Jesus’s resurrection.

So to wrap this post up, here’s the takeaway…no one is too good for damnation and no one is too bad for salvation. Turn back to Matthew and to the passage of the Parable of the Two Sons which begins in verse 28. Jesus says, addressing the religious leaders…

(28) “But what do you think? A man had two sons, and he came to the first and said, ‘Son, go, work today in my vineyard.’ (29) He answered and said, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he regretted it and went. (30) Then he came to the second and said likewise. And he answered and said, ‘I go, sir,’ but he did not go. (31) Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said to Him, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you that tax collectors and harlots enter the kingdom of God before you. (32) For John came to you in the way of righteousness, and you did not believe him; but tax collectors and harlots believed him; and when you saw it, you did not afterward relent and believe him. … Matthew 21:28-32 NKJV

The Lord interpreted the parable. Tax collectors and harlots were like the first son. They made no immediate pretense of obeying John the Baptist, but eventually many of them did repent and believe in Jesus. The religious leaders were like the second son. They professed to approve the preaching of John, but never confessed their sins or trusted the Savior. Therefore the out-and-out sinners entered the kingdom of God while the self-satisfied religious leaders remained outside. It is the same today. True self professed sinners receive the gospel more readily than those who profess to know Christ but never really admit to themselves that they are sinners. Giving to charities, being raised by religious parents, going to church, or rattling off Bible verses ad nauseam doesn’t get you into heaven. Only trusting and believing in Jesus does that! The question is do you? If not this is your chance now.

Now, this is a moment of invitation to you if you do not have Christ in your life. If you are rejecting Christ, you too do not have that much more time. When Christ comes and the curtain is drawn, time is up and there will be no second chances! It doesn’t have to be this way though. Nothing that we can say, nothing that we can do will be acceptable to God unless we accept His Son Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior who died for our sins. He paid our sin debt and He, and He alone, is the only way to salvation. Jesus says in John 14:6:

““I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” … (John 14:6 NKJV)

All you have to do is ask Him to come into your life! In Romans 10:9-13, Paul says:

“That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, “Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame.” For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” … (Romans 10:9-13 NIV)

Now just pray this simple short prayer. Remember it really doesn’t matter what you say. What matters is that what you say comes from your heart!…

“Dear Lord, I admit that I am a sinner. I have done many things that don’t please you. I have lived my life for myself. I am sorry and I repent. I ask you to forgive me. I believe that you died on the cross for me, to save me. You did what I could not do for myself. I come to you now and ask you to take control of my life, I give it to you. Help me to live every day in a way that pleases you. I love you, Lord, and I thank you that I will spend all eternity with you. Amen.”

If you’ve prayed the above prayer with a sincere heart, then you are saved. The next step is to start going to church, getting baptized to publicly profess your faith, and reading the Bible and learning God’s Word. I pray with all of my heart that you prayed the above prayer! Please let me know if you need any help with your new “walk” with Christ! ( *_* )