In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come to me, and drink.…
Now was the time of the autumn heats. The effects of the harvest rains had long passed. The crops were just removed from the face of the ground. Above was the burning Syrian sun. Beneath — as with us, now — was the scorched and arid soil. All was dust, and weariness, and heat. It was the time of a great festival — the great autumnal feast of tabernacles, commemorative of the fruits of the earth now gathered in.
I. Here you may observe we have AN INVITATION — "Jesus stood, and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let Him come unto Me, and drink."
1. There seems to me something emphatic in that word, "stood." It expresses in a teacher the attitude of prominence, energy, aggression. It was well suited to High, who, as tie was there placed amidst that perishing throng, came "to seek, and to save that which was lost."
2. And the voice is still more marked than the attitude. "Jesus stood and cried." This term is applied to those who arc labouring under some strong passion or affection of the mind, whether of grief, fear, desire, or other. Here it expresses earnestness and energy. At least, let ministers shew by their manner that they have a deep interest in the salvation of those they address.
3. But from the attitude, and the voice, turn we to the words themselves, to the gracious invitation of the Lord. Whom does He address? Those who thirst. A large class, as many will testify. For they who thirst include all who are not satisfied.
(1) There, for example, are they who are disappointed. On them life opened fairly and brightly, but its horizon became overcast. Full of joyous anticipation they sprang forward with alacrity in the race of life. But unlooked for difficulties arose, They experienced treachery and falsehood. Life to them lost its charm. They found not what they sought. They thirsted, but were not satisfied.
(2) Then there are the prosperous who cannot be satiated with prosperity. In their fulness they are empty; in their joyfulness they are sad; pleasure pleases not; slumber soothes not.
(3) And there are those, too, who, having tried to slake the thirst of their undying souls with dying things, and discovering their error, are now seeking in things heavenly, unfailing sources, and perennial fountains. These do not, now, thirst for the creature. They have found out their error, and plainly see that the creature cannot satisfy. Now to these, and to all others, unsatisfied, anxious, craving, desiring, thirsting, Jesus cries, "Come unto Me, and drink." And it is thus that Jesus meets the cravings of our humanity; His providence supplies our bodily wants. "As thy day, so shall thy strength be." In the same way man's intellect meets in his God, that on which it can repose. Who should satisfy mind but He who made mind! But, oh! the storms and tempests of thought! Then there is the way in which the Saviour meets man's spirit. The heart of man must have something whereon to repose, something to love, something wherewith to sympathize. The Saviour in His humanity here meets the heart of man.
II. Nor must we omit to notice THE EXTENT OF THE LORD'S INVITATION — "Any man." "If any man thirst, let him come unto Me and drink."
III. Having thus spoken of this invitation of our Lord, we have now to notice HIS PROMISE, WITH JOHN'S COMMENT THEREON.
1. "Water." Refreshment and purification are presented to us in this figure.
2. "Living water." Not stagnant, much less putrescent. Life belongs to the Christian; and this life he must seek to impart to others.
3. "Rivers of living water." Here are presented to us ideas of depth, copiousness, perpetuity. Eternal life in believers is not to be scant, or shallow. A joyous and abounding river, it is to flow with waters exuberant and vivifying to all around.
4. They are "flowing waters." "Out of Him shall flow rivers." The Spirit which God has given is not to be restrained.
IV. But in WHAT MANNER may this water of the Spirit in a man be said to flow out of him?
1. One main method of the manifestation of the Spirit has already been alluded to — by the words of our mouth. But we would not restrain the symbol of these flowing waters only to a man's words.
2. His actions also may be included. The Christian's life should be a continual call to turn from the path of death.
3. Influence we would also name as another most effective mode of making these waters flow to the benefit of our fellow-men. Influence! Influence voluntary, and involuntary! How wide its extent, and how incalculable its power!
V. We have expounded and illustrated the text. Let us conclude by some INSTRUCTIONS drawn from it.
1. See the diffusive character of the dispensation of the gospel I A man is not made partaker of the Spirit of God for His own mere individual salvation, but for the salvation of others also.
2. But let us be careful to avoid a common error. The water of life must be put in us for our own salvation before it can flow out of us for others' good. It is not like the spider's web which she spins out of herself.
3. But how encouraging the promise, "He that believeth on Me, out of him shall flow rivers of living water." Christ here expressly declares that if we believe on Him we shall be made partakers of His Spirit.
4. Holy gracious the invitation! "If any man thirst let him come unto Me, and drink." If our lips are to feed others, those lips shall themselves be first fed.
5. Contrast here these .living waters of the soul with that perishing water of Shiloah of the ceremonial before alluded to. Here is the contrast between religion spiritual and religion ceremonial — between sacraments (or signs) and the things by them signified. The Jewish populace saw nothing but the water — heeded for the most part nothing but the ceremony.
(M. Brock, M. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.