John 7:37 On the last day of the festival, the great day, while Jesus was standing there, he cried out, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, 38 and let the one who believes in me drink. As the scripture has said, ‘Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water.’” 39 Now he said this about the Spirit, which believers in him were to receive; for as yet there was no Spirit, because Jesus was not yet glorified.
The religious people had gathered for the festival and were listening to the different teachers. Jesus was grabbing the attention of many who were searching spiritually. They were thirsty for good spiritual drink and he was showing them the way to living water.
On a hot day in the middle east, cold water is a welcome blessing and necessary for life. Jesus challenged them to embrace the metaphor and believe in him.
The promise is of the Spirit that will flow out of him and into all those who believe. Flowing rivers of spiritual water will bring life to those who believe, and quench the thirst of those to whom they minister in Christ’s absence.
Driving down a mountain highway with a raging river out your window is an exhilarating experience. I watch the frothing water as it swiftly flows over the rocks while gravity draws it ever downward into the dry valley below. With great speed it is drawn toward the cracked and barren land, soil that is in desperate need of moisture and life that water will bring.
This is the way in which the Spirit is to flow through those who believe in Jesus Christ. The life-giving water, flowing through us at such speed that it spills out and transforms everything that it touches. The banks of the river are green and lush because they receive the gift of life on a daily basis. The thirsty souls that are dying in the desert are being nourished as the life-giving Spirit pours out of the life of the believer, reaching out to the needy as rapidly as possible.
At least this is the way it is supposed to be!
There are other rivers which have muddy bottoms and move along at the speed of a sloth. Pools of water collect, become stagnant and an overgrowth of algae threatens to choke off any other life. When we keep all that God is pouring into us for ourselves we will become the slow-moving-muddy-bottom river that begins to choke off life.
We are meant to be continually growing spiritually with living waters flowing out of our hearts and lives. If we are being filled with the Spirit, we must be willing participants in Jesus’ mission. We are not supplied water to simply quench our thirst, but to be channels of grace to a thirsty world.
Drink deep from the well of living water and then share a cup of cold water with your thirsty neighbor. Anything short of this may actually be sinful.
Lord, may your Spirit flow in and through me. If there are any obstacles to the flow of your Spirit, please root them out so that I may participate in your mission. Amen.