I Thirst! He Thirsts!

Man is created to regularly pant for communion with his Lord and enjoy the process of finding fresh satisfaction in him. It is almost as if he is to perpetually live life like a hungry soul sitting in a Brazilian churrascaria. (This is a high-end restaurant where servers walk about with endless skewers of various meats.) The worshiper’s glorious hunger is given him by the Lord and is to be perpetually satisfied by him. The worshiper of God hungers, thirsts, eats and drinks, and despite his consumptive rate, his cup runs over.

Tragically, sinful man takes his hungering and thirsting elsewhere. Just as Adam and Eve forsook God’s provision and tasted of the forbidden tree, so foolish man seeks to satisfy his thirst through relationships, trophies, notoriety, reputation, legacy, profit, promotion, hedonism, religious folly, familial advancement, power-grabs, possessions, or a host of other things. (Ecclesiastes tells the story of one such individual.)

However, all who seek satisfaction apart from God, they find themselves perpetually hungry, thirsty, dissatisfied, and disappointed. It is almost as if they are cracked vessels seeking to be filled from highway culverts. In the end, they are always left wet, dirty, empty, dissatisfied, and with an awful taste in their mouth. The constant cry of such foolish and sinful individuals is, “I thirst … Isn’t there someone who can just give me a drop of cool water for my tongue?”

However, there is someone else who is thirsty. God is thirsty, and he longs to save sinners and satisfy their thirsts in this life and the next.

In Exodus 17, as the Israelites are a parched congregation travelling through the desert, God proves himself to be the one who provides them fresh water through his mediator. He is the water of life.

In the sermons of Isaiah, the prophet consistently presents the Lord’s blessings:

“With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. And you will say in that day: “Give thanks to the Lord, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the peoples, proclaim that his name is exalted. “Sing praises to the Lord, for he has done gloriously; let this be made known in all the earth. Shout, and sing for joy, O inhabitant of Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 12:3-6)

In another homily he says,

“But now hear, O Jacob my servant, Israel whom I have chosen! Thus says the Lord who made you, who formed you from the womb and will help you: Fear not, O Jacob my servant … whom I have chosen. For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour my Spirit upon your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants.” (Isaiah 44:1-5)

And then comes his most famous of sermons,

“Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live; and I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David. Behold, I made him a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander for the peoples … “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near….” (Isaiah 55:1–7)

God’s people had a constant flow of ministers calling them to turn from their cesspools and find cleansing, refreshment, satisfaction, and delight from the waters of God. However, there may be no better example of God’s zeal to wet and satisfy than that which happened in John 7. 

For 1500 years, the Jewish people had been celebrating this Feast of Booths. It was one of the seven annual festivals organized by God, and it was designed to celebrate God’s gracious and bountiful provision. By the time of Jesus, it was the feast participated in with the most pageantry. Nightly bonfires were the norm, and people gathered about the holy city and temple to eat, drink, sing, and fellowship. It was a week-long tailgate party ordered by the Lord, and it culminated in grand fashion. On the final day of the feast, many of the celebrants make a line and follow the priest down the road. It was a joyous parade heading towards the pool of Siloam. As they journeyed, the singing of the Hallel Psalms (113-118) would fill the air. Then, upon arriving at the pool, they would pause and watch the priest fill his golden pitcher. From there, they would parade back to the golden altar of the Temple, entering through the Watergate. Upon arrival, they were heralded by three trumpet blasts. Seven times they would march around the altar, and then all would stop. Everyone’s attention would be fixed on the priest as he poured water from the golden pitcher and led the throng in singing a portion of Isaiah 12:3, “With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.” Once again, for 1500 years the Jewish people had kept this feast. Sure, over time the ceremonies, traditions, and rituals had grown, but it seemed right to glorify and enjoy the Lord. It was an honor to make much of the one promised to satisfy their thirsts.

However, on this one particular day, something was different. On this day, the sovereign God who satisfies thirsty souls was in the house. The glorious One they had read about, talked about, sung about, prayed about, and pictured, he was at hand and in their midst. It is reasonable to suppose Jesus engaged in their ceremonial parade. Imagine his delight as he engaged in song, dance, Bible reading, and prayer with his friends. Carefully he watched. Joyfully he participated, but then it appears he could handle it no more.  Passionately, Jesus stood up and exploded with a passionate plea:

“… If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ ” Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.”  (John 7:37-39)

In a moment, Jesus stole the show. He turned everyone’s attention away from the temple, altar, priests, elders, pitcher, and ceremony, and focused them on himself. In public, in the holy place, in front of the altar, in front of Israel’s leaders, Jesus proclaimed himself to be God and promised to satisfy the thirst of any desirous worshiper. He proclaimed himself to be the Sovereign One who wets, waters, sprinkles, douses, washes, pours, or immerses. He was the Promised One who baptizes with the Spirit, and he does so with such quantity that the formerly thirsty soul could not possibly contain the outflowing of his blessings.

The Water of Life was on the earth and in the Holy City. It was he who was being poured out upon the altar. It was he who satisfied the thirsty. It was he, and he alone.

Friends, are you thirsty today? Sure you are.

Has yesterday’s satisfaction come and gone? Can you identify with Dwight L. Moody who said something to the effect of, “It is true, yesterday I was filled with the Holy Spirit, but I leak.”

What will you do today? What will you do now? Where will you go for satisfaction? Will you go sinfully wet your tongue once again in the cesspool of this world? If you do, you know it will be refreshing for a moment. But you also know the aftertaste and stomach-ache will prove you to be the fool. You know this is true, for you have done this over and over again.

Can’t you see what Jesus did for you? On the altar, Jesus was poured out for you. On Golgotha, Jesus thirsted on your behalf. On the cross, he became like a thirsty, wretched, dry, citizen of hell as he suffered on behalf of you and your sin.

Can’t you see what Jesus does for you? Right now, again, he is inviting you to bring your thirsty self to him and be super-abundantly filled. Oh thirsty friend, why will you not go to your Creator and be freshly nourished by the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit? Listen to what he says,

“Therefore, do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit. (Ephesians 5:17-18)

And,

“The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.” (Revelation 22:17)

The Father, Son, and Spirit are watching and waiting. They are in the house, in the room, in your midst, and in your heart. They have given you the command. The invitation has been presented. Fresh grace is available for all who open wide. Today, take advantage of the Means of Grace and the Environments of Grace and be cleansed, nourished, refreshed, and satisfied:

  • Privately, devour God’s Word
  • Privately, say and sing prayers to the Lord
  • In small groups, be nourished and nourish through God’s Word
  • In small groups, say and sing prayers to the Lord
  • In small groups, utilize your spiritual gifts — encourage one another
  • In corporate worship, feast upon the Word of God
  • In corporate worship, say and sing prayers to the Lord
  • In corporate worship, give offerings of thanksgiving
  • In corporate worship, publically proclaim your vows
  • In corporate worship, gather with the saints at the table
  • In corporate worship, gather with the saints around the baptismal font

Friends, the satisfaction you are looking for is looking for you. He is inviting you to be satisfied. Why not sing the song and pray the prayer, “Spirit of the Living God, fall fresh on me.” Then, after making such intercession, why not go in haste to the place where he waits. He is there, in his Word, in prayer, in the sacraments, and in the fellowship of the saints. He is there, and he has water in abundance for your parched soul.


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