Come to the River

Bible Reading: John 7:37-39

On the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles, which was called the great day, a procession of worshippers made their way to the temple.  When they reached the Pool of Siloam, a priest filled his golden pitcher with water.  We should note that the name “Siloam” is “Shiloh” in the Hebrew (meaning “one sent”) and was a name that spoke prophetically of the coming Messiah.  The procession then made its way to the temple and just as the priest passed through the water-gate (so named for this very ceremony) he was welcomed by a three-fold blast of the Priest’s trumpet.  The priest was then joined by another, who carried the wine for the drink offering.  Both ascended the rise of the altar together and then together simultaneously poured out the water and the wine into funnels, which then led down to the base of the altar.  Immediately after ‘the pouring of water,’ the Hallel (Psalms 113-118) were chanted by all the people.  The Feast–in every aspect—anticipated the coming Messiah (Zechariah 14:16, 8).  It has been observed for centuries, year after year, in anticipation of its fulfillment.

Everything in the feast pointed to the promised Messiah—the sacrifices made, water taken from the pool of Siloam, the entrance through the water-gate, the Psalms sung, etc.—but, for the most part, the multitude of thirsty souls present did not recognize that the fulfillment stood in their midst.  Many in today’s world struggle to find clean, drinkable water, but even more live day-after-day thirsty of soul for God.  I’ve read of those adrift at sea without water.  Ironically, they yearn to have their thirst assuaged, though encompassed by water on every side.  The problem with seawater is, of course, that it can never work to satisfy a person’s thirst.  Being filled with salt, the drinking of it results instead in a greater thirst and compounds the need.  Sin is like that, deceptively promising to meet our needs, but working instead to aggravate our condition.  Man’s thirst for life (restored relationship with God) can only be assuaged when a person is rightly restored to God through Jesus.

On the last day of that great feast as the priest poured out the water—an act which anticipated the pouring out of a living water through the coming Messiah — “Jesus (the Messiah) stood up and cried out, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink’ (John 7:37).  His reference to “living water” was to the ministry of the Spirit who was to come (John 7:39).  The Spirit came at Pentecost.  He has ever since provided an inexhaustible torrent of “life” that works to enliven from within those who are born again.  Stop and consider what we are taught here.  If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, then you are indwelt by the Spirit of God.  And His presence in you is likened to rivers of living water flowing out of your heart!  That’s true whether you sense the reality of it or not. 

During a difficult time in his missionary work in China, Hudson Taylor was blessed by the truth of this passage.  He wrote to a friend, “And now I have the very passage for you, and God has so blessed it to my own soul? John 7:37-39: ‘If any man thirst, let him come unto ME and drink.’ Who does not thirst? Who has not mind thirst, heart-thirsts, soul-thirsts, or body-thirsts? Well, no matter which, or whether I have them all — “Come unto me and’ remain thirsty? Ah no! ‘Come unto me and drink.’  What can Jesus meet my need? Yes, and more than meet it. No matter how intricate my path, how difficult my service; no matter how sad my bereavement, how far away my loved ones; no matter how helpless I am, how deep are my soul-yearnings—Jesus can meet all, all, and more than meet. He not only promises me rest—ah, how welcome that would be, were it all, and what an all that one word embraces! He not only promises me drink to alleviate my thirst. No, better than that! ‘He who trusts Me in this matter (who believeth on Me, takes Me at My word) out of him shall flow…. Can it be? Can the dry and thirsty one not only be refreshed—the parched soul moistened, the arid places cooled—but the land be so saturated that springs well up and streams flow down from it? Even so! And not mere mountain-torrents, full while the rain lasts, then dry again…but ‘from within him shall flow rivers’—rivers like the mighty Yangtze, ever deep, ever full. In times of drought brooks may fail, often do, canals may be pumped dry, often are, but the Yangtze never. Always a mighty stream, always flowing deep and irresistible!” (J. Hudson Taylor, “J. Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret”).  Jesus promises to satisfy the deepest longings of those who trust in Him.

“As you thirst in life for life, look unto Jesus.  He alone can fully satisfy the deepest longings of our God-thirsty souls.”


Rivers of living water,
Rivers that flow from the throne,
Rivers o’erflowing with blessing,
Coming from Jesus alone.

Refrain: Rivers of living water,
Rivers of life so free,
Flowing from Thee, my Savior,
Send now the rivers through me.

Whoso is thirsty come hither,
Here is abundant supply;
Water transparent as crystal,
Come without money and buy. [Refrain]

Cleanse me, oh, cleanse me, my Savior,
Make me a channel today;
Empty me, fill me and use me,
Teach me to trust and obey. [ Refrain]

Then, and then only, Lord Jesus,
Through me the rivers can flow;
Thus and thus only will others
Learn Thy great fulness to know. [Refrain]

Now I surrender to Jesus,
Here I lay all at His feet;
Anything, anywhere only,
Just for His service made meet! [Refrain]

Author: looking2jesus13

Having served as pastor at Lewis and Clark Bible Church, in Astoria, Oregon, for almost three decades, my wife’s cancer diagnosis led to my retirement and subsequent move to Heppner to be near our two grandchildren. I divide my time between caring for Laura and working as a part time hospice chaplain and spending time with family and spoiling my chocolate lab.

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