Twenty five years ago, I visited the island of Jamaica with girlfriends. We asked a taxi driver to show us the Jamaica that he loved…the real Jamaica. We told him that we wanted to learn about his home and culture. While on this journey, we saw two little boys carrying buckets of water across the busy street. I asked, “You don’t have running water in this area?” The driver’s reply rocked my naive, privileged mindset. He said, “Oh yes. They have running water in their homes. But it costs money.” The boys were filling their pails from city spigots because that water was free. This all took place long before bottled water was a “thing” so I had never given much thought to my minimal water bill.
Oh, the things we take for granted in our country…like access to water. On a daily basis in our culture, we fill our bathtubs to the top, splash in swimming pools, toss out half-filled water bottles, run our dishwashers, and wash clothes we’ve worn once.
Therefore, we are never going to grasp Jesus’ invitation to look to Him if we thirst, unless we understand the culture of His time. This agricultural culture struggled with droughts and the constant need of water for sustainable life in a way that we don’t understand in our day of elaborate irrigation systems. And it was hard manual labor to obtain the water necessary for daily needs of your family. These people knew the value of water. They knew it was the difference between life and death.
Reading John 7:37–39, we find ourselves at the end of the Jewish Feast of Tabernacle, one of the three festivals where attendance was required of every Jewish male who lived near Jerusalem. So the city was crowded. The harvest had been gathered and people celebrated.
Every morning of the festival, masses of people gathered at the Temple where the priest would hold up a golden pitcher and then lead the crowd as they chanted the Psalms of Ascent, Psalms 113-118. When they arrived at the Pool of Siloam, the priest would fill the pitcher and return to the Temple. He would then circle the altar once and pour the water out. Symbolism. Prophecy.
But on the final day, the seventh day, the priest circled the altar seven times. This is when Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” By this he meant The Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit has not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.
Jesus invites all. He can quench the thirst within our souls. He provides more than we need so we can share. He makes promises and He keeps His promises.
Longing for something? Jesus calls it thirst. Thirsty for a real relationship with Him? Thirsty for unconditional love and acceptance? Thirsty to know forgiveness, peace, or joy? Thirsty for wisdom? All available.
Like those little boys in Jamaica, we have access to a free drink of water. All we have to do is approach the Source of life and enjoy. He will provide more than enough…enough to share.
Thoughts to ponder:
Am I thirsting for something?
Where is evidence of “streams of living water” flowing from within me? If not, is it because I am selfishly hoarding for myself or is it because I’m not believing Jesus?