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.…
as contrasted —
I. WITH THE SCRIBES AND PHARISEES.
1. In the spirituality of His instructions. The Jewish teachers and their modern imitators are distinguished by their degrading conceptions of religion, morality, and worship. The Scriptures are made a cumbrous book of court etiquette; the heart is ignored; judgment and mercy pass for trifles as compared with ritual; and theology is turned into hair-splitting casuistry. But what a Teacher is this! With Him a broken heart is a sacrifice; a believing heart a sanctuary; love to God and man all duty.
2. In the dignity of His instructions. Rabbinical teaching, ancient and modern, is gravely puerile, and as you pass from it to Christ's you pass from a prison to a mountain top. Contrast with His their notions of(1) Jehovah — the national patron with the Universal Father.
(2) The Messiah — the Jewish conqueror with the Saviour of the world.
(3) The law overwhelmed with traditional burdens and superstitions, with the law as pointing to and fulfilled by Him.
II. THE POETS. Apart from Christ's influence, their teaching has no concrete reality nor anything to meet the deepest wants of the soul. Which of the non-Christian poets has sung anything calculated to make men holy, bring God near, secure pardon, lift the veil from the tomb, respond to any one of the queries of the human soul? But Christ says, "God is a spirit," etc. "There is joy in heaven over one sinner that repenteth." "In My Father's house are many mansions," etc. "Come unto Me all ye that labour," etc. Where in uninspired poetry shall we find lines like these? Christ was a true poet, but He gave truths adapted to meet the urgent necessities of the soul.
III. THE PHILOSOPHERS.
1. They can do no more than conjecture in regard to religious truth. But here we must have authority absolutely Divine. Socrates confessed this necessity but could not meet it. Christ confessed it and met it. "No man hath seen God at any time," etc. He did not reason, He affirmed.
2. They can only talk of abstractions, such as deity, laws of nature, etc., good words in their place, and so is "humanity," and if you should call your friend "humanity," you would deal with him as philosophers deal with God. But Christ teaches a personal God. Abstract teaching has its place, but to teach therapeutics to a man in a fever is as cruel as to mock at disease. Christ was a practical teacher, and told us not only what to believe, but what to do.
IV. THE PRETENDERS.
1. His claim, the loftiest ever made, was put forth under circumstances which fully attested its genuineness. It was open, in the presence of enemies, without human help. These and other tests would have detected imposture.
2. Imposters chiefly address the senses and the imagination, but Jesus' whole manner is that of one who would win man's intelligent confidence, and all He said was to give a basis to intelligent faith.
(E. N. Kirk, D. D.)
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.