John Day 14: Living Water

Living water man

Living Water by graphic artist Mark Taylor

Gospel of John Reading Plan

Day 14 Reading: John 7:32-52

Bringing the Word to Life
Exercise or work outside. When you are finished, drink some cold water. Pause to thank the Spirit for being a stream of living water flowing within you.

Pastor Lisa’s Journal
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, and let the one who believes in me drink.” – John 7:37 (NRSV)

Another morning and I wake with thirst for the goodness I do not have. I walk out to the pond and all the way God has given us such beautiful lessons. Oh Lord, I was never a quick scholar but sulked and hunched over my books past the hour and the bell; grant me, in your mercy, a little more time. Love for the earth and love for you are having such a long conversation in my heart. Who knows what will finally happen or where I will be sent, yet already I have given a great many things away, expecting to be told to pack nothing, except the prayers which, with this thirst, I am slowly learning. -Mary Oliver

Be thirsty for the ultimate water,
and then be ready for what will
come pouring from the spring.
-Rumi, The Essential Rumi

Because of what he says at the festival, some choose to believe Jesus is the Messiah. Many Jewish leaders do not believe because they think he was born in Galilee. The Pharisees send temple guards to arrest Jesus, but they do not.

Extended reflection by Rev. Dr. Rini Hernandez: Rivers of the Spirit promised
These words are proclaimed “on the last day” of a 7-day very important festivity for God’s people: “sukkot“, or the Feast of the Tabernacles. It was one of the three main Jewish festivities that would mandate a pilgrimage to the Temple in Jerusalem.

The “sukkot” was intended as a reminiscence of the type of fragile dwellings in which the Israelites dwelt during their 40 years of travel in the desert. Throughout the holiday, meals are eaten inside the sukkah and some people sleep there as well. On each day of the holiday, members of the household would bring offerings to the Temple, and on the 7th day, they would bring water from the pool of Siloam. Then the High Priest would fill up a golden jar with that water, take it to the Temple and amidst the shouts for joy of the people celebrating and the sound of shofars, He would pour out the water into the altar of sacrifices.

The purpose of this ceremony was to remind the Israelites of the many blessings God gave them during those 40 years in the desert (particularly the water from the rock), but also served as a reminder of the abundance of God’s presence during the messianic era. It is in this context that Jesus says: “Anyone who is thirsty may come to me!”. In my view, what Jesus is saying here is: “Don’t you get it? That water being poured out at the altar represents ME. And these celebrations are just pointing to the time when, after having lived in a spiritual desert and in fragile tents, now God is building His Eternal Kingdom and pouring out the abundance of His presence through my coming to you!”

Old Testament texts like Isaiah 12:3 were part of that celebration: “With joy you will drink deeply from the fountain of salvation”, or Psalm 46:4: “A river brings joy to the city of our God, the sacred home of the Most High”. Those texts were just an anticipated description of what the living presence of Jesus the Messiah would produce in us: “The rivers of joy”, flowing from our hearts.

The New King James Version’s render of John 7:38 is: “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water”. This is the description of believers in Jesus Christ who would drink from the water that He offers, experiencing the rivers of those waters flowing for others to drink and be blessed through us.

Whoever drinks from Jesus the well, Jesus the fount, Jesus the stream of waters, they would receive GRACE and JOY and NEW LIFE for themselves, but also, they will be able to communicate the same GRACE, JOY and NEW LIFE to others.

Jesus provides a stream of living water for all who are thirsty for righteousness. This came at the price of Jesus being himself poured out on the cross.

For this is Christ’s spiritual thirst, his longing in love, which persists and always will until we see him … Therefore this is his thirst and his longing in love for us, to gather us all here into him, to our endless joy, as I see it. For we are not now so wholly in him as we then shall be. … We are his bliss, we are his reward, we are his honor, we are his crown. … For he still has that same thirst and longing which he had upon the Cross, which desire, longing and thirst, as I see it, were in him from without beginning; and he will have this until the time that the last soul which will be saved has come up into his bliss. … and this is the characteristic of spiritual thirst, which will persist in him so long as we are in need, and will draw us up into his bliss. -Julian of Norwich

My prayer came out as a poem today…

I thirst by Lisa Ann Moss Degrenia
Holy Jesus, our Lord and our God, is thirsty as he hangs on the cross.
Not the everyday dryness that is easily satisfied by turning a faucet,
but the deep, deadly thirst few of us have known.
The burning, raging thirst of exposure and dehydration

By this time in His torture, Jesus’ body is a festival of pain
Cramps sweep through his muscles, knotting them,
and yet he must use them to lift himself to breath
His back, bloody and open down to the bone from the scourging,
scrapes against the craggy tree.
The lacerated veins and crushed tendons of his wrists and ankles
throb with incessant anguish
There’s a deep, crushing pain in the depths of his chest
(it’s his pericardium slowly filling with fluid)
As the heaviness closes in,
his heart struggles to pump what little is left of his thick, sluggish blood
Each variety of misery goes on and on and on
increasing with every moment that passes

How does he choose to describe this?
How does he describe the reality of his passion?
He says– I Thirst

He could have said with the Psalmist
I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint;
My heart is like wax; it is melted within my breast;
My mouth is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to my jaws
You lay me in the dust of death.

But that is too much
All his swollen tongue can say is… I thirst

Jesus knows the gift of water
The refreshment of being spoken in the beginning
as waters were separated from waters
Of guiding a rutterless ark on the vastness of the ocean
and a rutterless people through two seas and on to freedom
The warm waters of his birth and the obedient waters of his baptism
He knows the feel of spittle on his hands while making mud so a blind man may see
and the feel of spittle on his face from those who mock him

Yet all he can say is… I thirst

Only a short time before, Jesus talks with a man seeking answers in the night
Be born again of water and the Spirit
Only a short time before, Jesus talks with a cast down woman at a public well
Drink the water I give you and never thirst again
Only a short time before, Jesus cries out in the midst of the festival
Let anyone who is thirsty come to me
      Let the one who believes in me drink
Streams of living water will flow from within you

Now he pours himself out for the world… I thirst

I thirst
I thirst for you – because you cannot drink the bitter cup I must drink
I thirst for you – because I desire that none should be lost
I thirst for you – so that you may drink of me, the living water
Drink deeply
I become in you and all who believe a spring of water gushing up to eternal life

Holy Jesus, our Lord and our God, is thirsty as he hangs on the cross.
Not the everyday dryness that is easily satisfied by turning a faucet,
but the deep, vital thirst all of us may now know because of his saving work
The cleansing, satisfying thirst for righteousness

I Thirst © 2001 Lisa Degrenia
You are welcome to use this work in a worship setting with proper attribution.
Please contact Lisa for information and permission to publish this work in any form.

For more information on the Gospel of John Reading Plan, click here

For more information on the art, scripture translation and the use of this post in other settings, please refer to the copyright information page.

3 thoughts on “John Day 14: Living Water

  1. Lisa, “I Thirst” is very good. Excellent in fact. Please consider passing it on to GUIDEPOST for publication. Margaret and I have been meaning to come hear you preach. Thought it might happen when you were at Allendale, but that never happen. Now we have to be very intentional, but some day when you least expect it BINGO there’ll we be just two more old people sitting in the pews! Peace and grace, Jim

    • Thanks for the continued encouragement Jim. I remain grateful that you were willing to give me a chance way back when at TTUMC when I applied for my first church position. You helped a very young couple find their spiritual home in the Methodist Church.

  2. Pingback: Sermon Recording- I Thirst | Turning the Word

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