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.…
1. These are bold words, and they would be as false as bold if He who speaks them were no more than man. Shall a mere man presume to invite, not a small number for knowledge and sympathy — that we might understand — but the whole race for the satisfaction of their most vehement and spiritual ideas. The presumption would be as blasphemous as absurd. But He who thus speaks has a right to speak, and is conscious of it.
2. All human desire and need is expressed in the one word "thirst." Consider the different kinds of thirst, and see how coming to Christ will satisfy them.
I. The lowest and commonest of all, the thirst for HAPPINESS.
1. A man may come with a desire which is not gracious, but simply natural, since every creature desires to be happy, and which is universal, since no man is perfectly satisfied, and drink the cooling waters of the gospel. Those who limit the invitation to the graciously thirsty undo the grace they seek to magnify, and take all the freeness from the gospel. The words "any man" shatter such a fancy in pieces. Let him come with the feeling he has. It may be inward disturbance, brooding fear, gnawing heart pain, weariness of disappointment, inner longing — whatever it be he is welcome.
2. If he does not see how Christ can be of any service let him trust Him as he would a man who has the credit of being trustworthy, so far as to try His specific. Two men once followed Jesus because they heard another speak well of Him. They did not know very well what they wanted, so they asked Him about His home. He gave an answer He is giving to all the thirsty, "Come and see." They went, and never left Him more.
3. But coming so, a man soon begins to be conscious of higher desires.
II. Thirst for RIGHTEOUSNESS. If the desire for happiness is to be fruitful it will and must take this form.
1. A moral creature can never be happy without rectitude. If a man has the feeling "let me be happy, but let me enjoy the pleasures of sin," he either does not come or coming does not drink. The thirst therefore continues, and becomes a pain.
2. But to come to the righteous one is to see righteousness and to become conscious of unrighteousness.
3. Can I be right, and How? How can these stains be cleansed? Christ alone can answer these questions, and satisfy this great desire. His blood cleanses. His righteousness avails. It is to be in them as a principle as well as on them as a garment.
III. The thirst for LOVE — the love that shall love us, and the love that shall go out to those who love us. When this desire is fully aroused it will not rest until it finds Jesus Christ. It is but a little way when you can say, "He or she loves me," "I am loved of husband, wife, parents, friends." This will never satisfy an immortal nature. Take the earthly love that is good and pure. It is the gift of God. Rut that you may have that faculty fully developed take first the love that passest knowledge.
IV. There is a thirst profounder and vaster which Christ alone can satisfy — the thirst for LIFE. The others may be traced back to this. It is the deep organic desire which has been implanted by its Author for its perpetuation. Every man has it. The shrinking from annihilation is instinctive. Out towards the realm of life it stretches imploring hands. But where? Reason cannot demonstrate its existence; imagination cannot find it in her loftiest flight. Philosophy says, "You give me no data, and I can give you no conclusion." Ah, yes! no data; for the departed never return. And yet we thirst for them; and, if we are Christians, we are sure we shall see them again. But how? By His word who is the Life, and drinking of Him we live indeed. "Any man." That is you.
(A. Raleigh, 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.