Letters to the Family of God
by Joe Franzone | December 14, 2023 | Pastor's Blog
December 14, 2023
He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty, I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life.
On 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…”
Thirst is deadlier than hunger. Deprived of food, we might make it a few weeks, but deprived of hydration, we would last no more than a few days. Only breathing in and out matters more. As humanity progressed, many people remained near or moved close to rivers, springs, and lakes to ensure an adequate fresh water supply. To this day, several of the largest cities in the world are close to lakes and rivers.
Professors Michael Arthur and Demian Saffer from Pennsylvania State University said in a Water: Science and Society lecture, Many of America's major manufacturing centers (i.e., the rust belt) are located in areas where major rivers and canals provided a means for transport of raw materials and goods, power generation, water supply for processing and cooling, and conveyance of waste.
Water, water, water. It is used in religious rites, as political tools, and weaponized in negotiations, be it a country, county, or neighborhood covenant. Water keeps people alive, hydrated, clean, and well-fed. We can’t live without water. We need water! Small wonder Jesus uses water as a picture of life in Him.
The context of John 7 was the Jewish festival of Sukkot. Sukkot means booth. The festival was a focused time of happiness and celebrations. It began traditionally four days after the day of atonement. The simple idea of this festival was that God's people's sins of that year have been atoned for; therefore, be happy and celebrate.
Part of the rites of this festival was a tent-like structure (a booth) was built and elaborately decorated. The booth was symbolic. For example, the booth walls were meant to represent the arms of God embracing those resting inside. The Song of Songs 2:6 captures the essence when it says, His right arm embraces me.
The last day of this eight-day holiday concludes with an extravagant water-pouring ceremony based on Old Testament passages about life-giving water. (Isaiah 12:2–3; Ezekiel. 47:1–2; Zechariah. 14:16–19)
It is on the final day when Jesus teaches us that our souls are made for Him. The ache in our hearts is, at root, an ache for Jesus. Like water, a person lives on Jesus.
The first thing Jesus teaches us is that the gift of water is free. The only thing you need is need. If anyone thirsts, that is the condition. Moreover, the action you must take is to drink. In other words, receive the gift. There is no thought here of earning or meriting. Anyone who knows this thirst is invited to drink.
Second, the human soul has thirst. We know He is not talking about physical thirst. That is clear. However, Jesus is saying that the soul has something like physical thirst. When you go without water, your body gets thirsty. Just as our body was made to live on water, we were made to live on God.
Third, the word thirst implies that what Jesus offers is satisfying. Everything that marked the Old Testament ceremony was temporary, especially the day of atonement. Everything Jesus came to do and teach aims to provide the soul with food and drink to satisfy them and us forever.
This is the beauty of Jesus' words. The water is free. We all have thirst. And Jesus aims to satisfy our thirst not temporarily but forever. All you need is…need.
I am praying you have a happy Christmas. I am praying that people everywhere, for the first time, drink from Jesus. If you are a Christian your sins have been forgiven, all of them forever. Therefore, be happy and celebrate.
Grace and peace to you and yours.