The life of sin is ugly and deadly. Through his death and resurrection Jesus gives us new life in his Spirit who grows his character within us.
37On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. 38Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them”. 39 By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.
The benefit of hindsight is a wonderful thing. With it, we can not only know what is happening, but why it is happening.
What used to be one of my favourite things to do when reading the Bible is “Israelite bashing”. “Israelite bashing” is criticizing the Israelites, the Jews, or whoever is involved in the passage whenever they fall down. One of the reasons why I stopped doing it was because the people in the passages don’t have the benefit of hindsight like we do. To judge them for this would be unfair. The Spirit hadn’t been given at that point because Jesus hadn’t been glorified yet. There was no way the hearers of this message could know the significance of Jesus’ words until Jesus’ resurrection, which is understandable. After hearing this message, people were confused – not sure if Jesus was a prophet, the Christ, not the Christ. And I really don’t blame them. It would’ve been a hard message to believe without the resurrection. The Pharisees who were at the Festival would’ve probably confused them further.
Another reason why I stopped “Israelite bashing” is because we are so much like the Israelites and the people in the Bible. We need Jesus to take away our old lives and give us new life just as much as the Israelites, Jews and Gentiles did. Jesus came for people like them and us. We are all sinners who need saving. But he gave us new life. This new life comes not from our own religious efforts but from our old lives dying at the cross. All we have to do is believe that Jesus took our place on the cross. All ours sins will be forgiven and we will receive his Spirit and eternal life in heaven.
In this passage, Jesus pictures the Spirit as a river of living water. The best way to glorify Jesus is to enjoy the water, praise the water, keep coming back to the water, point other people to the water, get strength for love from the water and never, never, never prefer any other drink in the world over this water. This is how we glorify God and receive new life in the Spirit.
Head: What do you think it means to receive the Spirit? How does the Spirit work within us?
Heart: In what ways have you embraced this new life in Jesus? In what areas have you struggled with the sin in your old life?
Hands: Jesus pictures the Spirit as a river of living water. What practical measures can you take to make sure that you never prefer any other drink in the world over this water?
Prayer: Father God, thank you for sending your son to die on the cross for my sins. Thank you for giving us new life in the Spirit and for forgiving us for the sins of our old lives. We’re sorry for the times when we do fail you and prefer to drink the other sinful drinks of the world over your life purifying water. Please forgive us when this happens and help remind us that nothing compares to your love for us. Amen.
A Song to listen to: Only You Can Satisfy