John 7v25-44 – Jesus the Thirst-quencher

Jesus the Thirst-quencher.


John 7v25-44 [Text vv 37-39]




Jesus is coming to the end of his ministry on earth. He has just said in the preceding verses that his time is short. [v.33]

Jesus said, “I am with you for only a short time,

and then I go to the one who sent me”.


The Jews did not understand what Jesus meant, esp. the religious leaders who always seemed to be confused by Jesus teaching.


In order to understand  the full impact of Jesus words “If anyone is thirsty let him come to me and drink” we must understanding the setting in which these words were uttered.




On the last and greatest day of the Feast [v37]


What feast is John writing about?


There were many feasts and Holy Days in the Jewish calendar – and there still are. This one was called the Feast of Tabernacles {Booths}


This festival lasted for 7 days during which time the people were to live in booths – leafy structures made from the boughs of trees and covered with palm branches. This was to remind the people of the wilderness wanderings of their forefathers  after the exodus from Egypt.

The festival took place at the end of the ingathering of the harvest.


There is a debate among scholars as to whether this last day was the 7th or 8th day. BUT really it doesn’t change the meaning and significance of the passage in any major way.


On each of the seven days of the feast, a golden flagon would be filled with water from the Pool of Siloam and then carried by the high Priest in procession back to the Temple.  As the procession approached the Watergate on the south side of the inner court of the Temple, there would be three blasts on the trumpet.


As the people watched, the priest would procession around the altar while the temple Choir sang the Hallel {Pss.113-118}. As they concluded the singing of Ps.118 every male pilgrim would wave a Lulab [Willow, myrtle and palm branches] which was carried in the right hand. And a piece of citrus fruit in the left hand signifying the ingathered harvest. The branches were laid around the altar and over it to form a canopy{Tabernacle}.


The water from the golden flagon was poured into a bowl beside the altar from which a tube took it to the base of the altar.  At the same time wine was poured into another bowl on the other side of the altar. This water rite symbolized the fertility and fruitfulness that only rain can bring. These were acted expressions of thanksgiving  for God’s mercy in giving water in the past. It was also strongly linked to Isaiah 12v3:

With Joy shall you draw water out of the wells of salvation.


Not only did this festival point back to a time in the past – the water flowing from the rock in the wilderness – BUT in Jewish thought is also anticipated the outpouring of God’s Spirit in the Last Days.

Zechariah 13v1 – On that day a fountain will be opened

to the House of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem,

to cleanse them from sin and impurity.

The Jews also linked this ceremony to Isa.55v1:

Come all who are thirsty,

come to the waters…..


In Ezekiel we have a picture of water flowing out from the Temple in Jerusalem bringing life wherever it goes.

So even within the Jewish teaching there is a picture of the future temple of God out of which flows the living water eventually covering the whole earth.


2. THE SUPPLIER [Inflow from Jesus].


The Festival has come to a dramatic climax – it is the crescendo of the 7 days. At this point …

Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “If anyone

is thirsty let him come to me and drink [v37b]


Here Jesus unfolds the true significance of this festival. He takes the water symbolism and uses it to speak of the living water that he will give.


ILLUST: Have you ever been really thirsty? Desert thirsty? When I was in the army on patrol in Northern Namibia – so thirsty drank the water from tinned vegetables. Desperate.

What is the first thing a person in the desert asks for? -Water!!


The tragedy is that many people don’t realise that they are spiritually thirsty – or if they do they look for water that can never quench their thirst.


Remember the woman at the well at Sychar in Jn.4:

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again,

 but whoever drinks the water that I give him will never thirst.

 Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water

welling up to eternal life. [Jn.4v13-14]


The words here in ch.7 are similar to those of ch.4 – an invitation to the thirsty to come and drink from the source of living water.


John makes the point that Jesus “cried out in a loud voice” and that he was “standing”. It was customary for teacher to sit and so Jesus standing only served to add importance to his words.


There are numerous passages in the OT that, while not speaking directly of living water, do link the spiritual blessing of God with the symbol of water.

The Lord will guide you always;

he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scortched land

and will strengthen your frame.

You will be like a well-watered garden

like a spring whose waters never fail. [Isa.58v11]


Isa.44v3 links water and the Spirit in a direct way:

I will pour water upon him that is thirsty,

and streams upon the dry ground.

I will pour my Spirit upon your seed,

and my blessing upon your offspring.


As people come to Christ that their thirst in quenched. Maybe some of us have lost our spiritual passion because we have forgotten what it is like to be thirsty. Sometimes we are content with just a glass of water or satisfied with the drips. But that is not what Jesus offered.


3. THE STREAMS [ Out-flow from the believer]

The Spirit.

Whoever believes in me as the scriptures has said,

streams of living water will flow from within him.

By this he meant the Spirit….. [v38-39a]


The only ones who can come to Jesus and drink are those who come in faith. And when the believer comes in faith to Christ and drinks, Christ pours out on him an abundant supply that not only quenches his thirst but overflows like a river bursting its banks.


When God gives his Spirit to the believer he does not use a teaspoon to measure it out – he opens the flood gates so that rivers flow.


God wants to fill us with his Spirit so that we not only take in but give out. He wants the blessings to flow through us to others.


When there is not outflow the waters cease to be “living waters”


ILLUST:  The Jordan River is the life-giving water to the land of Israel. BUT it flows into the Dead Sea and does not flow out. Therefore it is dead, lifeless and arid.


Like the Dead Sea if we damn up the Living Water we are in danger of becoming sterile.


A true believer is not to be like that. The Believer is to receive that gift of God and pass it on to others. It is very significant that when the Holy Spirit was poured out at Pentecost the first thing the disciples did was to go out into the streets and preach the gospel to the people.


Freely you have received, freely give


Christ is the one who gives us the living water {the Spirit} to drink so that streams of living water may flow out form us.


We can’t give out what we have not taken in. So we need to spend time in fellowship with God in private and with God’s people in Church and in home groups – where we study together and pray together and grow together. BUT THEN there must be outflow from that otherwise we will stagnant. Outflow in care and acts of kindness to each others and to the unbelievers in an effort to shared the good news that Jesus can quench their spiritual thirst too.


[The sinner]

Up to that time the Spirit had not been given

since Jesus had not yet been glorified.


This is, of course, pointing to Pentecost when the Spirit was given to the Church – the birthday of the Church. It is not that the Spirit was inactive before Pentecost but that at Pentecost the Spirit was given in a new and unique way.


Calvary is the necessary prelude to Pentecost.

In “glorified” we must see not only Christ’s exaltation but included in that his death and resurrection as well.

Notice that John speaks about the cross in terms of glory and not shame. The cross may seem shameful from a human point of view BUT for the believer it is the glorious place where sin is dealt with.


John clearly sees the cross and the necessary prelude to the work of the Spirit.


Now without getting too bogged down in the Christian experience and trying to divide it up into tiny part – we need to see that it is vital that sin is dealt with before the believer can enter into the life of the Spirit. Sin had to be dealt with before the Spirit could be poured out in this way.


A person must come to Christ for forgiveness and cleansing in order to drink of the life-giving living water. Until that happens it is not possible to know the blessing of God. If you have never done that then I urge you to come to Christ. Respond to his love and his offer of salvation.


There is the initial pouring out of God’s Spirit when we respond to him but there is also an ongoing filling:

Be filled with the Spirit {Be being filled… } [Eph.5v18]


We can hinder the Spirit’s work in our lives, we can grieve the Spirit, quench the Spirit. In order for us to be channels through whom the Spirit flows we need to be clean and clear. I don’t just mean passive pipes. But actively receiving from God and by the power of the Spirit within us being a blessing to others.


We are far from perfect BUT God has made a way for our sin to be dealt with. He has given us the Spirit to convict us of our sin. He has given us a Saviour who paid for our sins and now intercedes with the Father on our behalf. And he has promised that:


If we confess our sins he is faithful

and just and will forgive us our sins

and cleanse us from all unrightousness [1 Jn.1v9]


Let’s not be satisfied with drips or trickles but let us drink from the fountain of Living Water so that streams may flow from within us.


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