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 words were spoken on the last day of the feast — therefore on the last opportunity for doing good to that multitude. The dispersion of a mighty crowd is always affecting, as we forecast that it is a final parting with some, and see in it a foreshadowing of that last separation. Our Lord was sensitive to such feelings, and could not suffer the vast assemblage to break up without giving them something which might reveal itself in their hearts when far from the excitement of the city.
2. It was the great day, when, after the solemnities of the previous week and their august associations and suggestions, all susceptible souls would be open to elevated thoughts. So Jesus, seizing the moment when the metal was molten to give His own impress to it, cried, "If any man," etc.
3. Christ's gift is living waters. He speaks to us as subject to desires for which nature has made no provision, and offers Himself as a fountain of relief and eternal satisfaction. His words sweep the entire circle of humanity, for every man thirsts. The only question is, Can His religion do what everything else confessedly fails to do? "Yes," said Jesus. The Holy Spirit as given by Him is as rivers of living water, because —
I. THE SPIRIT IS THE CHANNEL OF GOD'S LOVE TO SOULS.
1. Man thirsts for love. It is the nobleness of our nature that food and raiment and gross pleasures do not satisfy it. What makes childhood's blessedness, but that its whole atmosphere is love? Yet how far all human love comes short of satisfying our craving all know. But let a man be thoroughly certified that God loves him to save him, and that every moment he has access to God to tell Him all his griefs, what a river of refreshment must this love prove in his heart.
2. God's love to us is His love in Christ — love, the most ample in its measure, the most intense in its power, the most complete in its adjustments to our condition. But it is not this love in a book that will give us relief. The testimony of the Book must be transferred to the heart to become a living reality there. The Spirit adds nothing to its dimensions, but makes it approved and accepted to the soul. Divine love is the sovereign element of all blessedness: Christ is the Divine Vessel holding that love which flows over with sweet waters, but it is the Spirit which witnesses of this to the soul.
II. THE SPIRIT IS THE CREATOR OF BLESSED AFFECTIONS IN THE SOUL. "Shall be in Him." Man thirsts for an inward blessedness. Not in his circumstances but in his heart, in noble views, pure affections, generous aspirations, lies the true well-being of man. He may have millions and yet be haunted with fears of starvation. He may allow himself every luxury, and yet his soul be a level of monotonous wretchedness. Malignant self-centred passions are the fever of the soul. Place a man amidst the splendours of royalty, and a jealous spirit will make him miserable. It is from a right state of the heart that its blessedness must flow; therefore the true salvation of man is not outward but inward. It has its outward elements in an alteration of man's relation to God; but what were it worth for the outcast to be delivered from his rags and poverty, and be received back if he retained all the evil passions which ruined him? He must become an altered man to become blessed. All experience and Scripture bear witness that this is a work not for man but for the Spirit of God. It is the almighty spirit of love, whose living waters flowing into the heart destroy its bitterness and impurity, and make it a fountain of brightness.
III. THE SPIRIT IS THE POWER OF SPIRITUAL COMMUNICATION.
1. As the waters of a fountain gush forth by their own pleasure, so do the living waters of spiritual life impart themselves to all around. Every refreshed soul is constituted a well of refreshment, like a fertile spot in the wilderness. How is this done? By the gifts and service which it prompts. Whenever He is in the heart, our families, neighbourhoods, churches will be refreshed. Stagnant waters which have no outlet become corrupt and bitter like the Dead Sea.
2. Man thirsts for successful, useful action. You are not content with the result which your daily calling gives you. Without despising common duties, you feel that you were made for nobler things. Well, the noblest course is open to all. You need not acquire rank or money. If renewed by the Spirit, you can make your course as a shining river. No other life is worth living: all other is vanity and vexation.
3. This blessedness and usefulness must be habitual, a river not a brook. Nothing can be more remote from the true idea of the Holy Spirit than transcient excitement. Conclusion:
1. This gift of the Spirit is acquired by faith. "Coming" is "believing."
2. This gift assumes different forms in different believers.
3. This gift every believer is bound to use.
(J. Riddell, 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.