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.…
Jesus uttered forth this cry on the great day of the feast - a time of ceasing from work, a time of solemn assembly. Quietly as Jesus had gone up to the feast, by this time he had become the Centre of a vast concourse. Because the concourse would be vast and not over quiet, and also because his message, if important, was tremendously important, he cried. We feel that, in doing this, that voice which spake as never man spake would only rise from sweetness to sublimity.
I. WHY DID JESUS PUT HIS INVITATION IN THIS PARTICULAR WAY? It could hardly be because of the present surroundings of the people. Jerusalem was plentifully supplied with water. Not a soul in the crowd but could get a drink very quickly. The main reason must be found in the feast which had brought the people together. It was the feast instituted to commemorate the forty years in the wilderness, and serious people would call to mind all the events of that period. Prominent among the experiences of wandering Israel was the miraculous supply of water. Where would the people have been but for the God who turned bitter waters into sweet, and made springs to burst forth in the desert? Thus the observers of the feast would be led to think of the intenser thirst of the inward man. Jesus tried to put the truth in every possible way. What did not catch the experience of one would catch that of another. Not everybody would this appeal of the Lord touch. They would not have been through the experiences and reflections which gave a proper feeling of the urgency and the pain of thirst. But if in all that crowd hearing the cry of Jesus there was but one, only one, who had known the agonies of thirst far away in some sandy waste where no water was, it was worth while for Jesus to shout aloud so that that single man might hear.
II. How THIS INVITATION IS TO BE MADE ATTRACTIVE TO US. We know nothing by our own experience of dry and thirsty lands. Wander anywhere through broad England and you can get a drink of water for the asking. We may sometimes have been inconvenienced a little, but that is no sufficient experience of thirst which lasts only for an hour or two. Reading accounts of some shipwrecks, we may gather a little of the feeling. Coleridge puts it thus in 'The Ancient Mariner' — "Water, water, everywhere, Nor any drop to drink." Of all the physical wants man can feel, none is capable of being raised to such a pitch of intensity as the want of water. So, down underneath the figure Jesus employs, there is a suggestion of the terrible suffering some have to undergo in finding spiritual truth and peace. As few comparatively know the full suffering of bodily thirst, so few comparatively know the full suffering of spiritual thirst. Few know such a state of heart as would warrant them in saying that their souls thirst for God. The way of agony is the way some must travel before they can be filled with the fulness of God. But intense agony in the sphere of the spiritual, as in the sphere of the natural, must be an exceptional thing. Yet who can tell but he may illustrate the exceptional, and so need to get guidance through the word of Jesus here? There are many things that say, "If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink." Then the thirsty drink, and find their thirst unquenched and intensified. We may have our natural Elims. What if they change to Marahs? What if the rushing stream dries away to a few tantalizing and useless drops? - Y.
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.