Thirst arises from a lack of fluids which causes an increase in the concentration of certain substances in our bodies. The brain then sends out signals that we are thirsty so we go looking for water.
If thirst is not taken care of dehydration may occur. Dehydration can cause all kinds of problems with important organs in the body. Excessive thirst can also be in indication of diabetes.
In the Seventh Chapter of John, Jesus talks about thirst:
“On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, ‘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, ESV)
Jesus was at an important Jewish feast and it was the last and greatest day of the feast. There should be no thirsty people there. Feasts were important elements of the Jewish religion. They featured not only lots of food and drink but also powerful reminders of the important teaches of Jewish faith.
This feast was the feast of tabernacles or booths. It was celebrated to remind the people of Israel that, because of their unbelief, they had lived in tents for 40 years in the wilderness.
Yet all throughout the time when they lived in tents God took care of them. He fed them, gave them water for their thirst, protected them and cared for them. Numbers 11 tells about a time when God gave them a special measure of his Spirit in the wilderness. This feast was to remind them of that time in the wilderness.
The response to Jesus’ offer of water on the greatest day of the feast may have been something like, “What’s your point, Jesus? We are celebrating the greatest day of our feast. On this day more than on any other there should be no one who is thirsty. Everyone should be well satisfied both physically and spiritually.”
It’s like we sometimes joke in the fall or the winter here in Minnesota when everyone has leaves on their lawn or snow in the driveway, “I have leaves for sale.” or, “I have snow for sale.” Jesus was offering something that people already had plenty of. Why would they want what he was offering?
Yet it is at this very point that Jesus stands up and says, “If anyone is thirsts, let him come to me and drink.” The reason Jesus was willing to do this because he knew that the Jewish religion, which was supposed to be teaching people to look for and believe in the coming of Jesus as their Savior had instead become a religion based on works.
As a result, there were lots and lots of thirsty people. They were thirsty because their good works did not quench their thirst for salvation. Jesus was the only one who could satisfy their thirst.
From the earliest days of the church, the disciples of Jesus also pointed out the futility of trying to earn salvation by good works as the Jews were doing. On the Day of Pentecost Peter said,
“Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” (Acts 2:40, ESV)
In his first epistle Peter talks about the futile way of life handed down to him and his fellow believers by their forefathers:
“You were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. (I Peter 1:18-19, ESV)
The same is true today. It may not seem like it but there are a lot of thirsty people all around us. If Jesus were here today he would make the same offer: “Come to me and drink.” Being saved is not a matter of going through a checklist of good works. Even if you go through all the right steps, you will still be thirsty. You can only be satisfied by Jesus, the water of eternal life.
On the Day of Pentecost, there were a lot of thirsty people. There was another Jewish feast going on. It was the feast of weeks where the first fruits of the harvest were celebrated. That’s why so many people from so many different countries were there.
It started with a mighty, rushing wind and tongues of fire that appeared causing a large crowd to rush together. As Peter preached to them they realized their thirst and 3,000 of them were baptized that day.
Thirst was something that Jesus knew about personally. In John 4 Jesus is on a journey and stops by a well. A woman comes to the well to draw water and Jesus asks her for a drink. They proceed to strike up a conversation in which Jesus tells her that he is the source of living water.
One of the last things that Jesus said when he died on the cross was, “I thirst.” No doubt with all that his body had gone through he was not only thirsty but dehydrated. They gave him vinegar to drink and when he had taken a drink he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and died.
The one who, in this text, promises to give people rivers of living water became thirsty and died for us on the cross.
Our bodies will signal us when they are thirsty. The same is not true of our souls. A person’s soul may be thirsty and they may not be aware of it. The difficult times we are going through right now with the COVID-19 pandemic and the racial unrest may cause some people to wonder about spiritual matters but the then the devil swoops in and convinces them they will be just fine.
One of the parables Jesus told was about a rich man who was not aware of any spiritual thirst. He thought that by his riches he had all he needed. But when he died he went to hell.
In hell he is tortured by thirst. He begged for someone to cool his tongue because he was in anguish. We have the message that can fulfill the spiritual thirst of people here on earth so that they never have to end up in thirsty anguish in hell.
On the Day of Pentecost Peter noted that the Spirit would be poured out on all flesh, young and old, male and female. We are all empowered by the Holy Spirit of Jesus to share with people the good news that “It is finished.” Jesus has completely paid for the sins of the world and gives salvation to us free of charge.
Faith in Jesus is the work of the Holy Spirit. It changes a person from one who is thirsty to one out of whose heart flows, living water.
We can safely assume that anyone who does not know Jesus is thirsty and needs his life-giving spirit. We can share with others the good news that we have a Savior who was so thirsty for our salvation he died on the cross for our sins.
To watch the video of the sermon I preached on this post click here.