August 2nd, 2020
(John 7: 37-39) 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.
Jesus made a powerful statement that day. But to really understand what a powerful moment this is, we need to understand all that happened leading up to it. Jesus was in Jerusalem. He visited Jerusalem four times over the course of his earthly ministry. This is His 3 rd visit, and it was during Passover week. For the Jews, this was Christmas and New Year’s all rolled up into one. So, Jerusalem was packed with Jewish people from all over the land. And some of them are angry. They would like to lay hands on Jesus. You see, preceding this visit to Jerusalem something happened in the previous chapter that is important. There in chapter 6, Jesus performed great miracles. He walked on the water. He fed 5000 with a few loaves and fish. Or as a pastor friend of mine always said, He fed them with a Captain Dee’s meal deal. But the thing to know is that Christ’s following had increased greatly. Thousands were following Him. They enjoyed the seeing the miracles, people healed, and they enjoyed being fed. Things were going great. The disciples had to be ecstatic because suddenly their new found movement was busting at the seams. There were so many followers now that they didn’t know how they were going to manage. It was a great problem to have. Now if they could only keep that momentum going!
But Jesus wasn’t at all concerned about the momentum or the numbers. He began to speak very plainly to the crowds. He told them that what they really needed was bread from heaven: bread that would always satisfy. So they asked for this bread and in John 6:53-56 Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them.” When He said these things, there was confusion, division, and arguing. “How can we eat his flesh?” “That’s sick!” People were turned off by what He was saying. The disciples came to Jesus, warning Him that the things he was saying was offensive to people. Some were leaving!
It was completely okay when Jesus was feeding them and meeting their physical needs, but when He challenged them to embrace a spiritual journey, when He began to ask them to believe His word, most weren’t ready for it. Things haven’t changed much. When God begins to speak and what He says infringes upon our “rights” or brings into question who we are, or when we are asked to examine our own desires, when sacrifice, repentance, and change is required, we begin to question that kind of God. We say, I feel judged. I don’t want you to be that kind of God. I want you to be the one that just feeds me and not the one that calls me to change. So, they began to complain and walk away.
Jesus explained, “It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But among you there are some who do not believe.” There were followers of Jesus, thousands of them, who did not believe. Is that a strange thing? I wonder if there are people who are members of the church who do not believe? I think about this sometimes. I even examine my own faith. I think that’s a healthy thing to do sometimes. Do you ever do a spiritual check-up? How is it with your soul? But the people had no interest in such matters. When Jesus got personal with them, asking them to embrace Him, they were offended. And again in John 6 - “66 Because of this many of his disciples turned back and no longer went about with him. 67 So Jesus asked the twelve, “Do you also wish to go away?” 68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”
But these thousands were offended and stirred up. They went on their way, no doubt, to Jerusalem for the feasts. And they must have done some talking when they arrived, because the Jewish leaders were watching for Jesus and His crew to show up. They wanted to take Jesus out. They didn’t want Him messing up their plans and festivities. Jesus knew it. And instead of going directly into Jerusalem, He sent his disciples ahead. He waited in Galilee. Then, after the disciples had had entered the city, the scripture says that Jesus entered in secret, because His time had not yet come.
What’s interesting is that He didn’t hide. It’s like He saw all the need around Him and was so moved, He just couldn’t hold back. After being there in the city a few days, he went in the middle of the week into the temple and began teaching. The people were astonished at the way he taught. And they wondered where He got His education, because Jerusalem was the only place that offered a degree in the Law of God, and Jesus was not a graduate. They wondered, Is this the Messiah? They argued over whether or not He was Christ. He had done great signs and miracles among them, yet they just couldn’t decide. There was division. But the truth is, it really wasn’t a question of believing. It was a question of receiving. Believing isn’t hard. It was the difficulty of knowing that their lives would change drastically if they confessed Christ and embraced Him as Lord.
So in the middle of their musings, Jesus stood up and said with a loud voice, “You know me, and you know where I am from. I have not come on my own. But the one who sent me is true, and you do not know him. 29 I know him, because I am from him, and he sent me.” He said, You know that I am from God. It’s an interesting thing isn’t it? I used to worry about how to convince people of the truth of God’s Word. I don’t do that anymore. The fact is, Jesus is the light of men. He is all we need and will ever need. And I believe that everyone knows it. I agree with St. Augustine, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.” Jesus said, you know that I am from God. I believe this is still true. Most people aren’t really wrestling with logic, or history, or science. They are wrestling with their own conscience. The Spirit of God speaks to all who hear the Word of God because God loves them.
But Jesus was simply too narrow minded to admit to. He said that He came from God. So, they sought to arrest him. Some wanted to kill him. When the Pharisees heard of the uproar at the temple, they sent out the temple guards to catch him. But His time had not come yet, so he escaped. How many times has this scenario played out? Every time Jesus required a personal decision of faith, or if He spoke a spiritual truth, peopled turned on Him. Yet, He continued to speak the truth. Truly loving people means we cannot shy away from blessing them with truth. It matters how we say things. But we must never get so concerned about what people think that we don’t stand on the gospel truth. What kind of truth am I talking about? Here are some things we believe. I believe in God, the father almighty, creator of heaven and earth. I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord. He was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried. And on the third day he rose again. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father. He will come again to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting. Amen.
These are non-negotiable truths. If we reject these truths, we are no longer embracing the Jesus of the Bible. That is where the truth is. It is in the Bible. The Bible is the word of God. There is no other truth about your God. My opinion matters very little and neither does yours. We must never, even in the name of peace, even in the name of being open minded, throw away the truth and embrace our own ideas. When we do, we will call evil good and good evil. If we concern ourselves only with keeping the thousands, filling the pews, we will only be able to focus on feeding people’s bellies while their spirit starves to death. Jesus didn’t do that. He spoke the truth. They hated Him for it. But He escaped them. Then, on the last day of the feast, Jesus reveals his presence to the people once more.
(John 7: 37-39) 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. Jesus had escaped their clutches only to reveal his identity to the crowd. Why? Because the need for all people hear this message is greater than any other need. He said, if you are thirsty – come to me and then you will do the same. People will come to you and you will give them this same water that I give. When the gospel saved you it was on its way to saving someone else. We need to remember that. When we come to Christ and receive Him, eat His flesh and drink His blood, and understand what He meant, then the Holy Spirit enters our heart and we become fountains of life in this world. Knowing Christ is not just a cranial pursuit. It’s not even a question of values. Becoming His, belonging to Him, is allowing Him to change us from the inside out, to make us like him: fountains of living water. But we have to be willing to believe and to drink. How is it with your soul?