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.…
The text is one of the truisms of Christianity, but the confession came from men who were not the disciples, nor particularly the audience of Jesus. They were a band of ignorant men, the mere police of the Sanhedrim. And it is remarkable that not a word was spoken by Christ directly to them why they should not execute their mission. What was said was said to the multitude at large upon subjects entirely independent of His guilt or innocence. The purpose of their coming is simply ignored. There were but two brief utterances after their arrival which the Evangelist has written down, and while it would be an improbable supposition that they were all that gave occasion for the confession, yet they were specimen utterances. They belonged to very different fields of thought and speech, and together go far towards giving an idea of Christ's teaching as a whole.
I. (vers. 33, 34.) Try to hear with the ears of these men, and to imagine the impression. Must not any one have said, "What an independence of human enmity and human power." "A little while I am with you, and then I go," asking no questions, dreading no interference. The officers heard, and felt themselves impotent. This man speaks that He doth know; He has His own times and seasons; Sanhedrim and Procurator are alike nothing to Him. But is there not a deeper awe behind? We shall seek Him and not find Him. "Ye will be wanting Me one day. When terrified Jerusalem is crying for pity I shall be beyond the reach not only of violence, but of sight and access. Oh! in this day of your merciful visitation, be ye gathered under My wings." "Never man spake like this man," were it but for the DIGNITY. We were born to have some one over us; may it be the right one! Other voices, counterfeiting the true Voice, have had an easy sway. But there is a Voice which moves heaven and earth, and if that Voice makes itself heard in the living world, in conscience we feel that if we had been sent by ten Sanhedrims we, too, should exclaim "never man spake it!"
II. (ver. 37.) Well He knew what was in man when He addressed this language to common humanity. If any man thirst, be it for comfort, rest, knowledge, holiness, or love, let Him come unto Me. Strange words these for these rough police- men to listen to when they came to apprehend this Man for a malefactor. And yet so simple were the words, so strong, so directly did they make appeal to the man within the man, finding him out in memory and conscience, reminding him of so many cisterns of human or sinful desire broken, awakening so many recollections of better impulses and higher aspirations, that they could not lay hands on Him.
III. Dignity alone might be coldness, and tenderness effeminancy, but DIGNITY AND TENDERNESS combined are an irresistible strength; and He who could utter both these sayings had a key to man's heart as God made it, and as man had corrupted it is sure of a hearing.
1. "A little while," etc., He says to us, and it is well to hear Him sometimes speak in that tone. It is not true to represent Him as a mere humble suitor. The Voice which pleads is the Voice which made and which shakes heaven, and as He speaks now from heaven in heaven we must seek Him.
2. The dignity of Jesus is the one thought, and if He speaks of that it is to give energy to His tenderness. I will not affront any man by supposing that he thirsts not. He may tell me that he is satisfied — but all in the deep of their several hearts are athirst in one way or another. To how few of us is life as we would have it. Many delights once possessed have been lost. But there is a keener thirst, that of the spirit for the conscious love of its Maker. This Christ can quench. Try Him.
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.