Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. (John 7:25–44)
Here Jesus is in the final autumn of his life as he visits Jerusalem for the last time during the Jewish Feast of Tabernacles. This feast was the third in the agricultural cycle, and celebrated the autumn harvest and wine. It also incorporated prayers for rain, as the land would then be affected by drought.
On the final day of the feast, during the climax of the water ceremony, Jesus makes the stunning pronouncement that he is the source of living water; if people come and drink then streams of living water will flow from within them. Those around were divided in their response. Some thought that he might be the Messiah, but others wanted to seize and kill him. Likely they believed he was being blasphemous as he linked himself to Yahweh, for the prophet Jeremiah had called the Lord the spring of living water (see Jeremiah 2:13 and 17:13).
When I think about living water flowing from within, I see a rushing stream with crystal-clear water that brings life to all that it touches. The water is continually moving and shaping, smoothing out the rocks within. And as we saw in the passage from Ezekiel, it flushes out any residue murkiness.
Jesus is the source of living water, and as he lives in us through his Spirit he will provide healing for our hurts and will oil the relational wheels with our loved ones. He will enable us to give a gracious reply even when we are exhausted, and provide a life-giving solution when we are searching for wisdom. His living water in us will leave us cleansed, refreshed and fortified as we engage with those around us. As the rivers flow from within us, we too can take them to this life-giving water.
For prayer: “Let those who are thirsty come; and let all who wish take the free gift of the water of life” (Revelation 22:17).