Come Thirsty

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It has been a great challenge looking at what Jesus has to say about being a true disciple over the past few weeks. I hope you are encouraged to be walking with Him, following Him every day. Learning from Him, Loving Him, Loving on another, Loving the World, and Living in Obedience.
Today, we are going to work our way through John 7, ultimately focusing on Jesus plea for all who are thirsty to come to Him.
Have you ever been thirsty? I mean really thirsty? You just longed for something refreshing, something that would satisfy?
I remember a trip I was on.
I was in the coastal town of Wewak, helping to load supplies for another team of missionaries who were moving into a tribal location interior. They had hired a truck to carry their supplies from Wewak, to a spot on the Sepik River.
After loading the truck, I climbed on to ride. This was a 20 foot flat bed truck, and I had to ride on top of the supplies on the back.
It was a beautiful, sunny day for the 6 hour trip. The road interior was rough, and I had to hang on tight with the bumps, twists and turns as we headed over the coastal mountains, and then down into the Sepik Plain. The road was paved, at least for the first few miles. After that, there were some parts where there was still a little pavement. Mostly it was pot-holed and rutted dirt roads.
What started as a fun adventure riding on the top of a truck, soon turned into a hot, dusty, diesel exhaust inhaling journey. I still enjoyed it. But the bumps, dust and fumes, along with the blistering sun did keep it from being a pleasure trip.
After a few hours of the sun, dust and fumes, I was out of water, sunburned and thirsty. Eventually they made a quick stop at a village, and there I had my first taste of kulau—fresh coconut milk.
I was never a fan of coconut growing up, but I was thirsty. I was parched, hot and feeling dust encrusted. They chopped off the top of a green coconut, and I enjoyed the sweet, cool, refreshing milk. Wow! I couldn’t believe how good it was. That kulau was so good! And, to my surprise, even though that coconut was out in the sun like me, the juice was cool to my palate.
Have you ever had that experience, when you were truly hot and thirsty? How good was it when you finally got a drink! Especially a cool, drink that just seems to refresh and revive you?
Jesus is talking to the people, and says, “Anyone who is thirsty, come to me!”
However, I don’t think Jesus is talking about being physically thirsty. I believe He is talking about our longing for something more, something truly satisfying in life.
I believe we all have that longing for something that really satisfies, and it isn’t Coca-Cola. What is it?
Let’s pray, and work our way through the passage.
John 7:1–2 NIV
After this, Jesus went around in Galilee. He did not want to go about in Judea because the Jewish leaders there were looking for a way to kill him. But when the Jewish Festival of Tabernacles was near,
The Jewish Festival of Tabernacles.
The Jewish feasts were given to the Israelites when the came out of Egypt. God set times for them to come to Jerusalem to remember, worship, and look to the future. They were to be times of refreshing!!
If you are reading the Bible chronologically with us this year, you will have read this summary of the feasts in Deuteronomy.
Deuteronomy 16:16 NIV
Three times a year all your men must appear before the Lord your God at the place he will choose: at the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the Festival of Weeks and the Festival of Tabernacles. No one should appear before the Lord empty-handed:

The Jewish Feasts - Times of Refreshment

Three times a year, at these three feasts, the Israelites were to gather in Jerusalem. God wanted them to remember specific things at each festival, worship Him, and look to the future.
The Festival of Unleavened Bread began with the Passover. What were they remembering? How God delivered them out of slavery. They were to worship God for His deliverance. What was the future significance? Jesus, the Passover Lamb who delivers all who believe in Him through His death, burial and resurrection for our salvation.
Then, as a part of that Festival of Unleavened Bread, on the Sunday following the Passover, they were to have the wave offering of firstfruits. They were to worship the Lord for His provision, in thanks of the rest of the harvest that had just begun. The future significance was that Jesus rose from the dead, the first of the harvest of God’s righteous ones!
The whole week of the Feast of Unleavened Bread was to remind them of how God provided for them to have new life after they were released from slavery. They had to leave in haste, not allowing time for their bread to rise, but God provided for them. The future significance is God providing new, eternal life for us, conquering death through Christ.
Fifty days after the First fruits, was the Feast of Weeks, or Pentecost. This was to celebrate God providing the harvest for them. Now, they offered God two loaves of leavened bread to thank God for His provision. The future significance of this was the beginning of the church, which was for both Jews and Gentiles!
In the fall, the Feast of Tabernacles followed the Festival of trumpets, and the day of atonement. Once again, for the Feast of Tabernacles they were to gather in Jerusalem. They were to remember how they lived temporary shelters when they first came out of slavery in Egypt, until God brought them into the promised land. They worshiped Him for bringing them out of slavery, providing for them on their journey and bringing them home. The future significance for Israel was that after they lost their nation and were scattered among the nations, God promised He the messiah would come and establish His kingdom on Earth at Jerusalem.
Zechariah says
Zechariah 14:1–9 NIV
A day of the Lord is coming, Jerusalem, when your possessions will be plundered and divided up within your very walls. I will gather all the nations to Jerusalem to fight against it; the city will be captured, the houses ransacked, and the women raped. Half of the city will go into exile, but the rest of the people will not be taken from the city. Then the Lord will go out and fight against those nations, as he fights on a day of battle. On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley, with half of the mountain moving north and half moving south. You will flee by my mountain valley, for it will extend to Azel. You will flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Then the Lord my God will come, and all the holy ones with him. On that day there will be neither sunlight nor cold, frosty darkness. It will be a unique day—a day known only to the Lord—with no distinction between day and night. When evening comes, there will be light. On that day living water will flow out from Jerusalem, half of it east to the Dead Sea and half of it west to the Mediterranean Sea, in summer and in winter. The Lord will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one Lord, and his name the only name.
A few verses later, Zechariah through the Spirit says,
Zechariah 14:16 NIV
Then the survivors from all the nations that have attacked Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King, the Lord Almighty, and to celebrate the Festival of Tabernacles.

The Festival of Tabernacles

This Festival of Tabernacles was a time of worship for what the Lord had done as He cared for the Israelites in their journey through the wilderness until they were home in the promised land. It was also looking forward to what the Lord would do when He came and established His kingdom on Earth in Jerusalem. He was with them, providing what they needed as they wandered this weary world. And one day, they would no longer be wanderers in this world. They would be home with Him!
That is what the Festival was supposed to be about. It should have been a time of real refreshment.
However, as John puts it...
John 7:2 NIV
But when the Jewish Festival of Tabernacles was near,
The feast was more about what the Jews had made of it, than what God desired for them to be getting out of it. It had become ritual, instead of a fresh time of worship and anticipation. It was no longer refreshing. It was what needed to be done. It was the routine that just added more stress to their day-to-day lives.
That is the background. Now, let’s keep working our way through this passage.
John 7:3–5 NIV
Jesus’ brothers said to him, “Leave Galilee and go to Judea, so that your disciples there may see the works you do. No one who wants to become a public figure acts in secret. Since you are doing these things, show yourself to the world.” For even his own brothers did not believe in him.
Jesus’ brothers did not believe. They though Jesus just wanted fame. They thought He was just about getting a lot of attention from crowds of people. Jesus was not after crowds. He wanted true followers.
So, Jesus responds,
John 7:6–9 NIV
Therefore Jesus told them, “My time is not yet here; for you any time will do. The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify that its works are evil. You go to the festival. I am not going up to this festival, because my time has not yet fully come.” After he had said this, he stayed in Galilee.

The World Hates Me

The world hates me because I testify that its works are evil.
Jesus knew the religious leaders wanted to kill Him. Chapters 6 and 7 in John are a transition from people loving what Jesus was doing, to not appreciating Him because He was not doing what they wanted.
They did not like when He spoke the truth about their actions. They hated Him, and wanted to kill Him.
Jesus knew what it was like to be a a world that is full of trouble. He knew how tiring it is, how wearying it is, how depressing it can be living in this harsh world. He lived it!
Did it stop Him? Did it burden Him down? How did He respond?

My Time Has Not Yet Come

He knew His Time has not yet come. His time of coming to the Festival of Tabernacles to be received by the people was not yet. He kept in mind what was coming, and waited patiently for it!
However, it wasn’t time yet. He was going to have to go through even more before He got to the point that they would receive Him. He would have to be put to death during the Passover feast, and rise again. There would have to be the coming of the Spirit, and the spread of the gospel. Then, later would come His return to establish His kingdom! Later would come the time when they would receive Him, as Zechariah 12:10 says, They would look upon the one they pierced and mourn.
So, Jesus was not yet going to go to this feast.
(Side note: most translations now say “Not going up.” KJV, NKJV, NIV84 say “Not yet going up” . The difference is a variant in the manuscripts that have been found. a change in the ending of the word not. The oldest, and the majority of manuscripts say, oupo, or not yet. The most complete manuscript says ouk, or not.)
Regardless, Jesus was not going up to make a name for Himself as His brothers wanted. He was not going up to be received as the Messiah as He should have been, because it was not yet His time.
John 7:10–11 NIV
However, after his brothers had left for the festival, he went also, not publicly, but in secret. Now at the festival the Jewish leaders were watching for Jesus and asking, “Where is he?”

Where is Jesus?

Jesus is at work on His time-table, not ours.
Where was Jesus? He was there, in the background among people that He knew hated Him. Why? Because He had a desire to still reach out to them. Where was Jesus? Seeking to save them, the very ones who wanted to kill Him.
That same situation applies today, doesn’t it? People don’t like Jesus because their deeds are evil. The whole premise of Jesus coming to die for the sins of the world is offensive, because to acknowledge that is to acknowledge that we are evil.
We generally do not like to think of ourselves that way. We do not want to have guilt, or shame. So, people hate Jesus.
Then, when tragedy strikes, people hate Him even more. Where is Jesus? If He is God, why did He let this happen?
We need to know the answer. Where is Jesus?
Jesus is at work, doing His work to draw the world that hates Him, to Himself. He is at work to give peace with God, Hope and a future. He is preparing a place for us where there will be no more suffering, sickness, heartache or death. He has done all that is needed to make a way for us to get to that place with Him. Now He is drawing us to Himself.
Unfortunately, we are right now in this world which has suffering sickness and death because of sin. So, it behooves us to help people who ask where is Jesus in the face of suffering to say Jesus is weeping over the sin that brings tragedies and death. He came to earth to die, taking our punishment for sin, and He rose again to give new life and hope to all who will receive Him. He is now preparing a perfect world for all who will come to Him in faith. If you will receive Him, He will walk with you through the heartaches of this world, and then take you to be with Him for eternity!
Where is Jesus? Jesus is patiently, reaching out to give hope in this harsh, weary, parched world.
John 7:12–15 NIV
Among the crowds there was widespread whispering about him. Some said, “He is a good man.” Others replied, “No, he deceives the people.” But no one would say anything publicly about him for fear of the leaders. Not until halfway through the festival did Jesus go up to the temple courts and begin to teach. The Jews there were amazed and asked, “How did this man get such learning without having been taught?”
Even still today, people have differing opinions of Him.
And all too often, Christians are afraid to speak up for Jesus because of what others will think of us. We need to speak up. He left us here as witnesses!
Jesus didn’t stop. Even though they hated Him, even though they wanted to kill Him, even though people were saying bad things about Him, like He is a deceiver, He wanted to reach them with the truth. He came to seek and save the lost. He came as a witness to the love and grace of the Father. So, He testified! He taught!
When Jesus did show Himself and tried to reach out to the people in Jerusalem, they were amazed. How did this man get such learning?
John 7:16 NIV
Jesus answered, “My teaching is not my own. It comes from the one who sent me.
John 7:17 NIV
Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own.
Bible study and memory does not make me mature. Just reading the Bible doesn’t necessarily give understanding. Jesus makes it clear. Not until we choose to do the will of God will we understand and know the truth.
Obedience makes me mature. We need to do the will of God if we want to see the power of transformation that comes from the renewing of our mind in the word!
John 7:18 NIV
Whoever speaks on their own does so to gain personal glory, but he who seeks the glory of the one who sent him is a man of truth; there is nothing false about him.
Though Jesus’ brothers thought He was seeking fame and glory Jesus did not. He wanted to glorify the Father!
John 7:19–24 NIV
Has not Moses given you the law? Yet not one of you keeps the law. Why are you trying to kill me?” “You are demon-possessed,” the crowd answered. “Who is trying to kill you?” Jesus said to them, “I did one miracle, and you are all amazed. Yet, because Moses gave you circumcision (though actually it did not come from Moses, but from the patriarchs), you circumcise a boy on the Sabbath. Now if a boy can be circumcised on the Sabbath so that the law of Moses may not be broken, why are you angry with me for healing a man’s whole body on the Sabbath? Stop judging by mere appearances, but instead judge correctly.”
Most of the questions in chapter 7 are the people asking about Jesus. Now Jesus asks questions. He wants them to stop Judging by appearances, and judge correctly.
He is referring back to the healing of the man by the pool of Bethesda. Remember that one? That was when Jesus asked, “Do you want to get well?”
Jesus healed that man on the Sabbath. Since following the Law had become ritualized—instead of a time to focus on God, His past provision, His promises for the future and times of being refreshed in the Lord—they judged Jesus for healing this man on the Sabbath. They failed to worship for God’s provision and goodness! They were judging by their own thoughts about things instead of what is correct. This is a reference back to Isaiah.
Isaiah 11:3–4 NIV
and he will delight in the fear of the Lord. He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears; but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth. He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked.
He wants us to judge things by His standards of righteousness, what just, helping those in need, and punishing the ones he says are wicked.
John 7:25–29 NIV
At that point some of the people of Jerusalem began to ask, “Isn’t this the man they are trying to kill? Here he is, speaking publicly, and they are not saying a word to him. Have the authorities really concluded that he is the Messiah? But we know where this man is from; when the Messiah comes, no one will know where he is from.” Then Jesus, still teaching in the temple courts, cried out, “Yes, you know me, and you know where I am from. I am not here on my own authority, but he who sent me is true. You do not know him, but I know him because I am from him and he sent me.”
John 7:30 NIV
At this they tried to seize him, but no one laid a hand on him, because his hour had not yet come.
God is ultimately in charge of the timing. Something truly evil was coming. The putting to death of Jesus, a truly innocent man. However, God would not let it happen until it was His timing. And of course, God intended to use this evil act for the good of those who love Him.
John 7:31–36 NIV
Still, many in the crowd believed in him. They said, “When the Messiah comes, will he perform more signs than this man?” The Pharisees heard the crowd whispering such things about him. Then the chief priests and the Pharisees sent temple guards to arrest him. Jesus said, “I am with you for only a short time, and then I am going to the one who sent me. You will look for me, but you will not find me; and where I am, you cannot come.” The Jews said to one another, “Where does this man intend to go that we cannot find him? Will he go where our people live scattered among the Greeks, and teach the Greeks? What did he mean when he said, ‘You will look for me, but you will not find me,’ and ‘Where I am, you cannot come’?”
John 7:37–39 NIV
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. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.

Come Thirsty - Refreshment

Now we come back to where we started.
The Feast of Tabernacles was supposed to be a time of Refreshment in the Lord. It was supposed to be a time of remembering how God had taken care of the Israelites in their temporary journey through the harsh wilderness, where food and water, true refreshment was scarce. Even in that place, He provided for them and refreshed them.
The Feast of Tabernacles was to be a time of looking forward to what God was going to do in sending the Messiah to re-establish the kingdom, the throne of David. It was to be a time of remembering how the Messiah would come and bring them in from their temporary wandering to the permanent dwelling with Him! It was to be a time of looking forward to the promised rivers which would flow and turn the land into a beautiful, bountiful land. It should have been refreshing to remember what is coming!
The Feast of Tabernacles was supposed to be a time of refreshment as they turned their hearts to worshiping the Lord. However, it had become a ritual—something they had to do. It had become something extra they had to add to their already busy lives. They had to do the rituals, and they lost sight of what they were about. They were no longer refreshing. They were left parched from their lives.
So, Jesus cries out, Come! Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink! Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them!
Jesus promised to give real refreshment in the midst of this weary, parched world. He promised that those who believe would receive the Spirit.
This world leaves us parched and always wanting more. Fame and fortune are the things the world says will satisfy. However, they only leave us parched. What will truly satisfy? Following Jesus. If we trust and obey we will find out just how true that is!
When we believe, Jesus gives us the holy Spirit. If we obey God’s word, yielding to the leading of the Holy Spirit who is at work to use God’s word to transform our minds, change our hearts and lead us into truth, we will be obeying what God says.
What will we get from that? What does following the Spirit give us?
Galatians 5:22–25 NIV
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.
If I have love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, good, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, will I find my thirst in this weary world quenched? YES!
Our lives are hard in this world. Jesus knew that. Jesus experienced it. That is why He can both sympathize, and hold out true hope! He can offer us what really satisfies, because He knows what will!
The question is, will I come to Him to have my thirst quenched? Will I yield to the Spirit who wants to make rivers of living water flow from within me, refreshing me and those around me?
Do we want that?

Come - Thirsty, find refreshment

In this world, we are parched. We do thirst. Bad things happen. People hate us. Jesus knew what that was like. What did He do? How did He handle it? He didn’t go along with what they wanted, but He did go. Jesus went, even though He was hated.
People don’t like us because we take a moral stand upon God’s standards. Jesus was hated because He showed their deeds were evil. That can be hard. It can lead to people thinking and saying bad things about us. It can be wearying. But Jesus still reached out in love, seeking to save the lost. We need to do the same.
It is easy to get caught up in what people think of us. We may want to make a name for ourselves. However, that only leaves us thirsty. Jesus did not go to make a name for Himself. Jesus went to seek the glory of the One who sent Him
Sometimes trying to help others in need is looked down upon. That can be wearying. Jesus was judged for helping. He knows what that is like. Yet, He kept helping, didn’t He?
Jesus promised Refreshment - The promise of the Spirit.
Just as the Feast of Tabernacles was to be a time of refreshment as the Israelites looked back to what God had done, and looked forward to what God will do, so to, we have a Feast for refreshment. Gathering together for the Love Feast, our church service should be a time of refreshment as we remember what God has done, and what God will do.
What has God done? God has given us the Holy Spirit! He wants to give us refreshment now in this world which is our temporary dwelling. The Holy Spirit wants to give us refreshment: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. In those gifts are true refreshment. And as we have them, they will not only refresh us, but others as well. That is why it is a river flowing out from within us!
Too often, the flow is blocked up. illustration - flow choked by debris
We need to confess, and remove those things that are blocking the flow. We need to keep in step with the Spirit and let it flow freely!
And while we do that, we look forward with anticipation to when He does take us to be with Him in our permanent dwelling, where these struggles will be no more!
Let’s come to Jesus, and find refreshment!! Let the rivers flow!
Read John 7. Did Jesus know how people felt about Him? How did He respond? How did Jesus’ brothers speak to Him? Did Jesus’ brothers understand what He was about? What did they think was Jesus’ motivation (vs 4)? Do you get the sense they were sneering at Jesus? How did Jesus respond? Are there people, even members of your own family who misunderstand your motivations? How do you respond? How should you respond? Read 1 Peter 3:8-17. How will you follow Jesus and respond to those who misunderstand, and even slander you? Be concrete in your answers; instead of being vague, think of the person, and be specific.
Why did people hate Jesus? See John 7:7. People may not like us. They may hate us. But why do they hate us? Do they hate us because we are unloving? Do they hate us because we repay evil for evil, or insult for insult? Or, do they hate us for shining of the light of Jesus, being honest about what God has judged as wrong? Read 1 Peter 2:20-25. How can you follow Jesus’ example?
Read John 7:17. What does this verse mean? How can we know the truth of the word by doing God’s will? What are some examples from your life? Where/when have you obeyed and found out that God’s word is true? How will you obey today? Is there anything you believe God wants you to do, that you find difficult? Anything you find hard to believe in God’s word? How will you obey so that you can see it is true?
Read John 7:18. It is so easy to speak to gain personal glory, isn’t it? Think through your previous day. How much of what we say is to build ourselves up in other people’s eyes? Why do we do that? Even if we are not speaking about ourselves, how much of our motivation to do well is so that others will think well of us? For whom should we be seeking glory? How can you make that a focus of your day? How will you speak for His glory? How will you act so that others will glorify Him?
Read John 7:37-38. Have you ever thirsted for more in life? Where have you gone to have your thirst quenched? The world says more money or more fame. Do they really satisfy? Where does Jesus say we need to go if we are thirsty? What does Jesus promise to give us? What does the Spirit want to work in our lives? See Galatians 5:22-25. If we listen to the Spirit, will what He produces satisfy? What hinders us from having our thirst quenched?
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