Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water

Out of the believers hearts shall flow rivers of living water…

John 7:37-39

37On 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, 38and 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.’” 39Now 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.

 

All life began in water as indeed all life does to this very day. Water is one of the Great Bible images. In the beginning of creation God’s Holy Spirit brooded upon the face of the primeval waters and God separated the waters above the firmament from the waters below the firmament. God shows us his salvation to righteous Noah through water; Abraham swears his oath to Abimelech at the well of Beer-Sheba; God causes a spring of water to gush out for Hagar and Ishmael; he parts the waters of the Red Sea; he brings water out of the rock at Meribah; Jonah’s right journey of soul is through water; Jesus is baptized in the waters of the Jordan and filled with the Holy Spirit goes into the wilderness. The prophets speak of water as new life — especially Ezekiel who in that marvelous passage recorded for us in the forty-seventh chapter tells us that the water flowing from the Temple threshold in Jerusalem will make a great river that will sweeten the great Dead Sea and irrigate the desert region of the Arabah.

 

Thirst for the living water has been an aspect and indeed is an aspect of all time pilgrimage. In Samaria Jesus enters into debate with the common people at the well about the nature of that living water. He walks upon water in Galilee and of course he changes water into wine at Cana. He heals the paralytic man by the pagan well near the sheep gate in Jerusalem.

 

In Jesus’ day, to avoid becoming putrefied by the blood from the animal sacrifices, the Temple in Jerusalem required water, lots of water.  And the Temple was atop a high ridge under which no water was to be found.  Water was brought to the Temple Mount by the aqueduct Solomon had constructed almost a thousand years before.  It brought water from pools some twelve miles away to away the blood and supply the city with the water it needed as well.

 

John seven tells the story of how Jesus issued the most astounding invitation imaginable.  It was the last day of the great Jewish Feast of Tabernacles, when the priests were pouring purifying water from golden pitchers on the altar and the choir was singing the words of Isaiah 12:3 “With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.”  Suddenly Jesus cries out to all those gathered “If anyone is thirsty let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me as the Scripture says, streams of living water will flow from within him.”

Water is the symbol of spiritual life. Think back to the time Israel wandered in the wilderness. They were roaming the desert without water, in rebellion against Moses and Moses was crying out to God for water. Only the direct, miraculous intervention of God — through the ministry of Moses — kept them from certain death. God provided water and the people lived. For you and me, the wilderness is more an inner condition than an outward one. The thirst may not be physical nor physically life threatening — but it is soul threatening. Water is life. Without water there is no life. Water surely is God’s gift. Water everywhere is promise of new life because of the profound unusual symbolism of this element. Man shall not live by bread alone… humanity shall not continue to exist on this planet without fresh water. The potency of his words were not lost on the crowds that had gathered to participate in the feast. They understood Jesus to be talking about much more than physical thirst. The promise is even more dynamic than comes across in most English translations. The text actually reads something like, “As for the one who is continually trusting in me — rivers of living water will flow from within them.” The language suggests that the person who has a continuing relationship of trust with Jesus Christ will experience a fountain of life coming from within.  “Flowing water” is an abundant supply of water such as could sustains life in the wilderness. It brings the joy of a suddenly discovered oasis in a “dry and thirsty land…” Jesus’ promise is that when we have an ongoing, trusting relationship with him, we will experience a life giving, Jesus is saying to them and to us, “If your life is empty and without meaning — come to me — you will find what you are looking for!”

 

John then adds an editorial comment. Jesus, he points out, was referring to the work of the Holy Spirit within the lives of his followers when he spoke of these “rivers of living water.” The promise comes to fruition in the present in our lives when we hear and response to the invitation, “Come to me.” The moment we recognize our spiritual thirst and decide to take that thirst to Christ, we open an inner faucet which allows the “water” to flow. It is important to note the RSVP in Jesus’ invitation and subsequent promise. The formula goes something like,  “If anyone is thirsty…. let them come and drink… and then rivers of living water…” will bubble up within.

It’s not, “If anyone is thirsty, I will give them water…” It is, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come and drink.” And when we decide to respond, a wonderful transformation becomes possible.

 

Jeremiah 2:13 speaks of the emptiness of the people of God without a relationship with God.  ‘for my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me, the fountain of living water and dug out cisterns for themselves, cracked cisterns that can hold no water.”  There is an ‘emptiness – fulfillment” theme here.  As a thirsty person comes to Christ to drink,  the Spirit who will be given will produce “rivers of living water” from within the believer

 

But this water is not for us only. ‘Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water.’ Jesus said. Maybe it should be a Query for each of us to consider: “Out of your heart do rivers of living water flow”. If we are to continue to proclaim Good News to the world we must be prepared to confront the evils that beset society in our own age. The list isn’t hard to compose. They are the issues of justice, of the conservation and preservation of the natural environment; issues of extraordinary profligacy — wastefulness, misuse of the natural resources; issues of trash, garbage of all kinds, from cigarette butts to nuclear wastes; issues of recycling waste; and the issue of racism which seems to be alive and well. In so many parts of the Christian world the voice of Christian witness is stagnant water, unfiltered water, water muddied by intolerance, and unreflected bias and bigotry, water choked by the minerals of prejudice and polluted by privilege and un-thought-through inheritances. The clear word of truth must be spoken. This must happen everywhere if our children are to survive without war.

 

This passage speaks to me especially when I think of those whose personal expression of Christian faith is negative, judgmental and wearisome. If there is not joy flowing out of our lives and within the community of faith then there is a need for renewal and a new infusion of the Holy Spirit. Perhaps a genuine Pentecost for some would be an outpouring of the Joy of the Spirit of God in the midst of the people of God.

 

O Lord of life, the sometimes hectic pace of our living, the demands of the
daily grind and the struggle to make ends meet, often leaves us empty.
It sometimes feels as though our lives are living us instead of us living
our lives. It is so easy to loose sight of the things that truly count.

We come before you dry and thirsty hearts today. O renew us Lord. May
we experience the joy of the “rivers of living water” your Son Jesus offered
to those who would trust in him. Let the peace of your Holy Spirit calm our
hearts, strengthen our tired spirits and soothe our anxious minds.

O Holy Spirit come to us and fan the flames once again!
Bring new life to our faith, renew our vision and energize our mission
for the sake of Jesus Christ.

 

 

 

Out of the believers hearts shall flow rivers of living water…

John 7:37-39

37On 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, 38and 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.’” 39Now 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.

All life began in water as indeed all life does to this very day. Water is one of the Great Bible images. In the beginning of creation God’s Holy Spirit brooded upon the face of the primeval waters and God separated the waters above the firmament from the waters below the firmament. God shows us his salvation to righteous Noah through water; Abraham swears his oath to Abimelech at the well of Beer-Sheba; God causes a spring of water to gush out for Hagar and Ishmael; he parts the waters of the Red Sea; he brings water out of the rock at Meribah; Jonah’s right journey of soul is through water; Jesus is baptized in the waters of the Jordan and filled with the Holy Spirit goes into the wilderness. The prophets speak of water as new life — especially Ezekiel who in that marvelous passage recorded for us in the forty-seventh chapter tells us that the water flowing from the Temple threshold in Jerusalem will make a great river that will sweeten the great Dead Sea and irrigate the desert region of the Arabah.

Thirst for the living water has been an aspect and indeed is an aspect of all time pilgrimage. In Samaria Jesus enters into debate with the common people at the well about the nature of that living water. He walks upon water in Galilee and of course he changes water into wine at Cana. He heals the paralytic man by the pagan well near the sheep gate in Jerusalem.

In Jesus’ day, to avoid becoming putrefied by the blood from the animal sacrifices, the Temple in Jerusalem required water, lots of water. And the Temple was atop a high ridge under which no water was to be found. Water was brought to the Temple Mount by the aqueduct Solomon had constructed almost a millennium before. It brought water from pools some 12 miles away to wash away the blood and supplied the city with the water it needed as well.

Our reading from John seven tells the story of how Jesus issued the most astounding invitation imaginable. It was the last day of the great Jewish Feast of Tabernacles, when the priests were pouring purifying water from golden pitchers, and the choir was singing the words of Isaiah 12:3, “With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.” Suddenly Jesus cries out to all those gathered, On the last and greatest day of the Feast 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 says, streams of living water will flow from within him.”

Water is the symbol of spiritual life. Think back to the time Israel wandered in the wilderness. They were roaming the desert without water, in rebellion against Moses and Moses was crying out to God for water. Only the direct, miraculous intervention of God — through the ministry of Moses — kept them from certain death. God provided water and the people lived. For you and me, the wilderness is more an inner condition than an outward one. The thirst may not be physical nor physically life threatening — but it is soul threatening. Water is life. Without water there is no life. Water surely is God’s gift. Water everywhere is promise of new life because of the profound unusual symbolism of this element. Man shall not live by bread alone… humanity shall not continue to exist on this planet without fresh water. The potency of his words were not lost on the crowds that had gathered to participate in the feast. They understood Jesus to be talking about much more than physical thirst. The promise is even more dynamic than comes across in most English translations. The text actually reads something like, “As for the one who is continually trusting in me — rivers of living water will flow from within them.” The languages suggests that the person who has a continuing relationship of trust with Jesus Christ will experience a fountain of life coming from within.  “Flowing water” is an abundant supply of water such as could sustains life in the wilderness. It brings the joy of a suddenly discovered oasis in a “dry and thirsty land…” Jesus’ promise is that when we have an ongoing, trusting relationship with him, we will experience a life giving, Jesus is saying to them and to us, “If your life is empty and without meaning — come to me — you will find what you are looking for!”

John then adds an editorial comment. Jesus, he points out, was referring to the work of the Holy Spirit within the lives of his followers when he spoke of these “rivers of living water.” The promise comes to fruition in the present in our lives when we hear and response to the invitation, “Come to me.” The moment we recognize our spiritual thirst and decide to take that thirst to Christ, we open an inner faucet which allows the “water” to flow. It is important to note the RSVP in Jesus’ invitation and subsequent promise. The formula goes something like,  “If anyone is thirsty…. let them come and drink… and then rivers of living water…” will bubble up within.

It’s not, “If anyone is thirsty, I will give them water…” It is, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come and drink.” And when we decide to respond, a wonderful transformation becomes possible.

Jeremiah 2:13 speaks of the emptiness of the people of God without a relationship with God.  “…for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living water, and dug out cisterns for themselves, cracked cisterns that can hold no water.” There is an “emptiness — fulfillment” theme here. As a thirsty person comes to Christ to drink the Spirit who will be given, will produce “rivers of living water” from within the believer.

But this water is not for us only. ‘Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water.’ Jesus said. Maybe it should be a Query for each of us to consider: “Out of your heart do rivers of living water flow”. If we are to continue to proclaim Good News to the world we must be prepared to confront the evils that beset society in our own age. The list isn’t hard to compose. They are the issues of justice, of the conservation and preservation of the natural environment; issues of extraordinary profligacy — wastefulness, misuse of the natural resources; issues of trash, garbage of all kinds, from cigarette butts to nuclear wastes; issues of recycling waste; and the issue of racism which seems to be alive and well. In so many parts of the Christian world the voice of Christian witness is stagnant water, unfiltered water, water muddied by intolerance, and unreflected bias and bigotry, water choked by the minerals of prejudice and polluted by privilege and un-thought-through inheritances. The clear word of truth must be spoken. This must happen everywhere if our children are to survive without war.

This passage speaks to me especially when I think of those whose personal expression of Christian faith is negative, judgmental and wearisome. If there is not joy flowing out of our lives and within the community of faith then there is a need for renewal and a new infusion of the Holy Spirit. Perhaps a genuine Pentecost for some would be an outpouring of the Joy of the Spirit of God in the midst of the people of God.

O Lord of life, the sometimes hectic pace of our living, the demands of the
daily grind and the struggle to make ends meet, often leaves us empty.
It sometimes feels as though our lives are living us instead of us living
our lives. It is so easy to loose sight of the things that truly count.

We come before you dry and thirsty hearts today. O renew us Lord. May
we experience the joy of the “rivers of living water” your Son Jesus offered
to those who would trust in him. Let the peace of your Holy Spirit calm our
hearts, strengthen our tired spirits and soothe our anxious minds.

O Holy Spirit come to us and fan the flames once again!
Bring new life to our faith, renew our vision and energize our mission
for the sake of Jesus Christ.

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