affection, Biblical Counseling, Desire, Faith, faith, Fellowship, Hebrews 11:6, John, John 4:10, John 6:42–44, John 7:37-38, John 8:23–27, John Calvin, John Calvin, John Owen, Living Water, Puritan, Thirst
Now what is required of us to gain us blessing and grace and living water? Here is where many flounder and do receive. First, we must know of whom we ask. Jesus says to the woman at the well, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give me a drink …’ (John 4:10). We will never ask of Christ until we know that Christ is what he can give:
And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him. Hebrews 11:6 (ESV)
We will not draw near unless and until we believe that he is, and that he will give freely. That is how many failed when Jesus walked upon the earth:
42 They said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” 43 Jesus answered them, “Do not grumble among yourselves. 44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. John 6:42–44 (ESV)
They could not come because they would not believe:
23 He said to them, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. 24 I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he [Greek, I am; “he” implied by the translators] you will die in your sins.” 25 So they said to him, “Who are you?” Jesus said to them, “Just what I have been telling you from the beginning. 26 I have much to say about you and much to judge, but he who sent me is true, and I declare to the world what I have heard from him.” 27 They did not understand that he had been speaking to them about the Father. John 8:23–27 (ESV)
Second, one must not merely know of Jesus; one must come to Jesus in need, in thirst – then coming in thirst, one must drink. Calvin puts it well in his commentary on John 7:37-38:
Yet it is highly useful to us, that the Evangelist introduces Christ exclaiming aloud, Let all who thirst come to me. For we infer from it that the invitation was not addressed to one or two persons only, or in a low and gentle whisper, but that this doctrine is proclaimed to all, in such a manner that none may be ignorant of it, but those who, of their own accord shutting their ears, will not receive this loud and distinct cry.
If any man thirst. By this clause he exhorts all to partake of his blessings, provided that, from a conviction of their own poverty, they desire to obtain assistance. For it is true that we are all poor and destitute of every blessing, but it is far from being true that all are roused by a conviction of their poverty to seek relief. Hence it arises that many persons do not stir a foot, but wretchedly wither and decay, and there are even very many who are not affected by a perception of their emptiness, until the Spirit of God, by his own fire, kindle hunger and thirst in their hearts. It belongs to the Spirit, therefore, to cause us to desire his grace.
As to the present passage, we ought to observe, first, that none are called to obtain the riches of the Spirit but those who burn with the desire of them. For we know that the pain of thirst is most acute and tormenting, so that the very strongest men, and those who can endure any amount of toil, are overpowered by thirst. And yet he invites the thirsty rather than the hungry, in order to pursue the metaphor which he afterwards employs in the word water and the word drink, that all the parts of the discourse may agree with each other. And I have no doubt that he alludes to that passage in Isaiah, All that thirst, come to the waters, (Isa. 55:1.) For what the Prophet there ascribes to God must have been at length fulfilled in Christ, as also that which the blessed Virgin sung, that those who are rich and full he sendeth empty away, (Luke 1:53.) He therefore enjoins us to come direct to himself, as if he had said, that it is he alone who can fully satisfy the thirst of all, and that all who seek even the smallest alleviation of their thirst anywhere else are mistaken, and labour in vain.
And let him drink. To the exhortation a promise is added; for though the word—let him drink—conveys an exhortation, still it contains within itself a promise; because Christ testifies that he is not a dry and worn-out cistern, but an inexhaustible fountain, which largely and abundantly supplies all who will come to drink. Hence it follows that, if we ask from him what we want, our desire will not be disappointed.
John Calvin and William Pringle, Commentary on the Gospel According to John (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2010), Jn 7:37–38.
Biblical Counseling, Fellowship, Gospel, Grace, Isaiah, Isaiah 55:1–5, John, John 4:13–14, John 4:25–30, John 7:37–39, John Owen, Living Water, Meditation, Of Communion With the Father Son and Holy Spirit, Praise, Puritan, Revelation 21:5–6, Revelation 22:16–17, The Tables Turned, We Murder to Dissect, William Wordsworth
In the digression, Owen simply turns to the beauty and wonder of Christ. I must admit this is a matter I too little do. There is a thinking about a thing: coming to a painting and speaking of the culture and the brush strokes. Wordsworth captures some of this in his line
We murder to dissect
Wordsworth wrote of reading of creation rather than gazing upon creation. I would take his principle but raise it higher: Rather than bare reading of the Creator, let us gaze upon the Creator. When looking into the Scripture it is easy to categorize and discuss without ever finding the author. It is like reading a love letter and dissecting the grammar but never receiving the love.
Thus, Owen takes out the time to praise Jesus, by contemplation of his beauty. Owen thus turns to grace bestowed in Christ:
The endless, bottomless, boundless grace and compassion that is in him who is thus our husband, as he is the God of Zion.
The grace of anything created would be far too small for the depths of need we bring, “
If it could be conceived as separated from the Deity, surely so many thirsty, guilty souls, as every day drink deep and large draughts of grace and mercy from him, would (if I may so speak) sink him to the very bottom; nay, it could afford no supply at all, but only in a moral way.
Thus, the grace which Christ conveys must be a grace greater than could be supplied by Christ as man alone:
But when the conduit of his humanity is inseparably united to the infinite, inexhaustible fountain of the Deity, who can look into the depths thereof? If, now, there be grace enough for sinners in an all-sufficient God, it is in Christ; and, indeed, in any other there cannot be enough.
This is the endless supply of grace from which Christ invites us to drink:
13 Jesus said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again. The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” John 4:13–14 (ESV)
Look how the story proceeds, what does she leave behind and what does she do?
25 The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.” 26 Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.” 27 Just then his disciples came back. They marveled that he was talking with a woman, but no one said, “What do you seek?” or, “Why are you talking with her?” 28 So the woman left her water jar and went away into town and said to the people, 29 “Come, see a man who told me all that I ever did. Can this be the Christ?” 30 They went out of the town and were coming to him. John 4:25–30 (ESV)
There was enough living water for all. What of the offer in Isaiah:
1 “Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. 2 Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. 3 Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live; and I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David. 4 Behold, I made him a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander for the peoples. 5 Behold, you shall call a nation that you do not know, and a nation that did not know you shall run to you, because of the LORD your God, and of the Holy One of Israel, for he has glorified you. Isaiah 55:1–5 (ESV)
Now take these two passages together and consider Jesus in John 7:
37 On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ ” 39 Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified. John 7:37–39 (ESV)
This offer lies at the very depth and height of our hope:
5 And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” 6 And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment” Revelation 21:5–6 (ESV) .
16 “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.” 17 The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price. Revelation 22:16–17 (ESV)
Such offers upon offers demonstrate the unending well of grace which flows in Christ.