“Cast Away is the story of Chuck Noland (Tom Hanks) a top engineer for FedEx. While flying over the South Pacific, a violent storm damages the company jet causing it to slam into the ocean. Noland survives the crash, but everyone else aboard is killed. Clinging to a yellow life raft, he rides out the raging storm and washes up on a small deserted island. For the next four years he struggles to survive before escaping the island and returning to civilization.
The day after Noland first sets foot on the island, the only concern greater than his fear is his desperate need for water. He is dangerously thirsty. After he discovers coconuts falling from the trees, Noland frantically attempts to open one. He repeatedly throws a coconut against a boulder, but the hard shell is unmarked. Using all his strength, he pounds the coconut with a rock but without success. He tries to drill a hole into one and then flies into a fury when he still cannot access the juice locked inside the fibrous seed.
Eventually he employs a sharp rock as an axe and is able to cut into and remove the outer husk. Left with the hard shell, he finally breaks it open only to watch as most of the milky juice spills out on the ground. Noland lifts up a fragment of the shell and drains the few remaining drops of liquid into his mouth.
How like our spiritual thirst, as we desperately seek to find satisfaction. Jesus promises to fulfill our longings and declares, ‘If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink.’”
Cast Away (Twentieth Century Fox, 2000); written by William Broyles Jr., directed by Robert Zemeckis; submitted by Bill White, Paramount, California
Tracking a deer
Last year during deer season I was helping my buddy track a deer he shot
There was snow on the ground, so the blood trail was easy to see
We walked several miles through thick undergrowth and open wooded areas
I had to stop at one point, because I had my insulated outfit on, and shed a couple of layers
I had been sweating quite a bit and was really thirsty
Fortunately, I had a water bottle with me, but it didn’t last long
By the time I met up with my buddy back at the check-in station I was super thirsty
I had to wait until I got home to get more water
All of us can probably remember a time when we were really thirsty
Take a moment and think of that time
Do you remember how you felt at that point?
Do you remember what it was like to finally have your thirst quenched?
Jesus is still at the Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem. A couple of weeks ago we saw that He was teaching in the temple courts in the middle of the festival. It’s now the last day of the Feast and Jesus is again in the temple courts. There was a ceremony, that involved water, that took place every day of the Feast and the final day had the water ceremony repeated seven times. It’s probably right after this ceremony that Jesus speaks in a loud voice. He is giving the crowd an invitation to drink. They would have to make a decision about Jesus. We also have to make a decision about Jesus. We need to answer the BIG question today . . .
BIG IDEA – How will you respond to Jesus’ invitation to drink?
GOD (John 7:37-52)
Jesus’ Invitation (vv. 37-39)
Understanding the water ceremony that took place during the Feast of Tabernacles is vital to Jesus’ invitation to the crowd at this point
“Each day of the feast witnessed a water ceremony in which a procession of priests descended to the south border of the city to the Gihon Spring (which flowed into the Pool of Siloam). There a priest filled a golden pitcher as a choir chanted Isaiah 12:3: ‘With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.’ The water was then carried back up the hill to the ‘Water Gate,’ followed by crowds carrying a lulab in the right hand (tree branches reminiscent of the desert booths) and an ethrog in the left hand (citrus branches reminiscent of the harvest). The crowd would shake these and sing Psalms 113-118. When the procession arrived at the temple, the priest would climb the altar steps and pour the water onto the altar while the crowd circled him and continued singing. On the seventh day of the festival, this procession took place seven times.” [Burge, The NIV Application Commentary, John, 226-27]
The Feast of Tabernacles took place in October, in an arid climate, that struggled with the threat of drought
They would have been praying for rain during the Feast
The water ceremony was a time to seek the face of God for His provision of rain
Symbolism from the Israelites wandering in the wilderness
God had provided water for the Israelites on two occasions in the wilderness
Exodus 17:5-6, The Lord answered Moses, “Walk on ahead of the people. Take with you some of the elders of Israel and take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. I will stand there before you by the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it for the people to drink.” So Moses did this in the sight of the elders of Israel.
Numbers 20:8-11, “Take the staff, and you and your brother Aaron gather the assembly together. Speak to that rock before their eyes and it will pour out its water. You will bring water out of the rock for the community so they and their livestock can drink.” So Moses took the staff from the Lord’s presence, just as he commanded him. He and Aaron gathered the assembly together in front of the rock and Moses said to them. “Listen, you rebels, must we bring you water out of this rock?” Then Moses raise his arm and struck the rock twice with his staff. Water gushed out, and the community and their livestock drank.
So, this water ceremony sets the stage and gives us the context behind Jesus’ invitation to the crowd
Jesus stood up and gave the invitation in a loud voice
Original text can be translated two ways
What we have to understand about the original Greek text is that there was no punctuation to set sentences apart and all of the letters were capital letters with no spaces in between (imagine trying to read that text)
“If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.”
Part of the difficulty is that scholars are not certain which passage of Scripture Jesus or John is referring to here concerning the flow of living water (if we knew what Scripture, it may help to clear things up)
This interpretation makes it sound like the streams of living water flow out of the believer
We have to include John’s explanation of what Jesus meant, which is found in verse 39
“Streams of living water” is referring to the Holy Spirit that had not yet been given to believers
Jesus had to experience His passion (death, burial, resurrection, and ascension) before the Holy Spirit would be poured out
(Promise) Acts 1:7-8, He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
(Fulfillment) Acts 2:1-4, When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
Woman at the well
When Jesus spoke to the woman at the well, He said this, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life (John 4:13-14)
“As he told the Samaritan woman, the ‘living water’ he offers is a never-failing, self-replenishing stream. The point is not, as is often thought, that the believer will necessarily become a channel of ‘living water’ to others, but that the believer’s own well will never run dry.” [Michaels, The New International Commentary on the New Testament, The Gospel of John, 465]
As believers, the Holy Spirit lives within us
He is a never-failing, self-replenishing stream
“The participle ‘Whoever believes in me’ is best understood as referring not to someone being invited to ‘come and drink,’ but to a person who has already done so, never to thirst again.” [Michaels, 465]
In Acts especially, we see the Apostles, praying for, and receiving the filling of the Holy Spirit for a specific task (Peter before the Sanhedrin, Acts 4:8; group that prayed with Peter and John, Acts 4:31)
PRINCIPLE #1 – God promises to give the Holy Spirit to His people.
Indwelling – when we repent of our sins and turn to Jesus Christ for salvation, we immediately receive the Holy Spirit that comes to live within us
Ephesians 1:13-14, And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession – to the praise of his glory.
Filling – we can pray to be filled with the Holy Spirit for a specific task (sharing the Gospel with someone; teaching Sunday school or a discipleship group; witnessing for Jesus publicly; etc.)
My Next Step Today Is To: Ask the Lord to fill me with His Holy Spirit so I can boldly share the Gospel with __________.
The second interpretation may have been a result of misunderstanding the fact that Jesus is the One who gives the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit is the One who works through the believer
“If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me. And let him drink, who believes in me. As the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.”
With this interpretation, it makes it clear that Jesus is the One where the streams of living water are flowing from
Those who hold to this interpretation point to Jesus’ crucifixion and the blood and water that flowed out of His body when the soldier pierced His side with the spear
The only difficulty with this interpretation is that John identifies the living water as the Holy Spirit
The Holy Spirit was not flowing out of Jesus’ side at His crucifixion
Carson has a balanced approach to both interpretations, Both interpret the water as the Spirit, both insist that the blessing is something believers will enjoy only later (from the standpoint of Jesus’ ministry), both relate the promise of the Spirit to Jesus’ invitation at the Feast of Tabernacles, and both make Jesus the one who supplies the ‘drink’ and quenches thirst.” [Carson, The Pillar New Testament Commentary, The Gospel According to John, 323]
Invitation to come
The second half of verse 37 is Jesus’ invitation to the unbelievers in the crowd
Jesus takes the opportunity, presented with the water ceremony, to connect, belief in Him, as quenching thirst
He is also announcing that He is the replacement for the temple and the sacrificial system that God had established until the coming of the Messiah
The crowd was going to have to determine how they would respond to Jesus’ invitation, which we’ll see in verses 40-44
We have to answer the implied question that’s being asked
How will you respond to Jesus’ invitation to drink?
Sinner (Rom. 3:23)
God’s justice (Rom. 6:23, separated from living water)
God’s love (Rom. 5:8)
God’s plan of redemption (1 Cor. 15:3-4)
Our response (Read Rom. 10:9-10)
My Next Step Today Is To: Confess with my mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in my heart that God raised Him from the dead.
What we see next in the narrative is the crowd’s response to the invitation to drink
Wrestling with the Invitation (vv. 40-44)
This is not the first time that the crowd thought someone was The Prophet
John 1:19-21, Now this was John’s testimony when the Jews of Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him who he was. He did not fail to confess, but confessed freely, “I am not the Christ.” They asked him, “Then who are you? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” He answered, “No.”
The crowd was not referring to a prophet, but to The Prophet that was promised in the Old Testament (read Deuteronomy 18:15-18)
Individuals in the 1st Century believed that the Prophet and the Messiah were two separate persons, but Jesus fulfilled both the promise of the Prophet and the Messiah
The Christ (Messiah)
Some of the crowd believed that Jesus was the Messiah
They were on the right track at this point
There was a third group that questioned whether Jesus was the Messiah based on where He was from
Not the Christ
The crowd was not necessarily questioning Jesus’ lineage, but rather where they knew He was from
The crowd knew that Jesus was from Nazareth in Galilee
Jesus grew up in Nazareth, but that was not where He was born
It’s interesting that those in the crowd, which included the Jewish religious leaders, were unaware of Jesus’ birthplace
We know from Scripture that Jesus and His parents didn’t remain in Bethlehem for long, perhaps a year
Mary and Joseph were warned to flee to Egypt, because Herod was going to have all the boys, two years old and younger, killed in Bethlehem and the surrounding region (Matthew 2:13-16)
They never return to Bethlehem after leaving, but eventually settle in Nazareth in Galilee
The crowd knew what Scripture said about the Messiah
He would come from the line of David
He would be born in David’s hometown of Bethlehem
They just didn’t know Jesus’ birthplace
They assumed He had been born in Nazareth
Not having all the facts caused the people to be divided
PRINCIPLE #2 – Jesus’ life and message brings division.
It definitely brought division to the crowd in the 1st Century and it still brings division today
“You won’t come to Jesus if you don’t believe Him . . . if you have already decided you don’t want to believe him, then you’ll find an excuse not to.” [Carter & Wredberg, Christ-Centered Exposition: Exalting Jesus in John, 181]
There are individuals that believe Jesus is not God
While the 1st Century crowd thought that Jesus was The Prophet some people today believe that He was just a prophet
They marginalize and discount Jesus’ deity
They say He is not God, but rather a wise teacher, a rabbi, a good or moral person, another prophet
But that’s not what Scripture teaches
Jesus is the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29, 35)
Jesus and God are One (John 10:30; Phil. 2:5-6)
Believing that Jesus and God are One is vital to Christianity, it’s a foundational truth
Jesus’ miraculous conception and birth was just a nice story, but it didn’t really happen
Some people will say, “Mary didn’t become pregnant supernaturally by the Holy Spirit coming upon her. She got pregnant by Joseph or some other man!”
They may also say, “There weren’t angels that announced His birth to shepherds in a field or a star that guided wise men to Him. That’s just a made up story for weak-minded people.”
Their unbelief doesn’t change the facts and truths of God’s Word
The division in our culture surrounding Jesus’ life and message brings persecution on those who hold to the truths of Scripture – Jesus promised that persecution would come
We see that with the desire of some of the crowd
Desire of some of the crowd
Some of them wanted to seize Jesus
They wanted Him to be arrested and imprisoned
But God continued to protect Jesus from being arrested prematurely
Their response, to Jesus’ invitation to drink from the living water, was rejection
How will you respond to Jesus’ invitation to drink?
What we see next in the response of the religious leaders was the same as some of the crowd – rejection
Rejection of the Invitation (vv. 45-52)
Last week we saw that the chief priests and the Pharisees sent temple guards to arrest Jesus (John 7:23)
The temple guards were not trained soldiers like the Roman soldiers
They were Levites who were charged with protecting the temple courts and helping to keep the peace
Perhaps more like a security guard than a police officer
Their training was more religious than civil
Now we see the temple guards returning empty-handed
The religious leaders simply ask them why they didn’t accomplish their goal
Their response is priceless!
“Have you heard Him speak? No one has ever spoken like Him!”
They were ready to drink from the living water that Jesus was offering
You would think that would have hurt the religious leaders, especially the rabbis, since they were the ones who were teaching the people, but that wasn’t the case
The religious leaders had already made up their minds about Jesus, and it didn’t matter how much evidence or truth they heard
Jesus was not The Prophet
Jesus was not the Messiah
His message was not truth, but deception
They knew better
Religious leader’s pride unchecked
The temple guards were not uneducated common folk – they were Levites who had religious training and knew the Law
The religious leaders were comparing the temple guards to the mob (crowd)
“Their contempt for the masses is well-established in Jewish sources where the peasantry, uneducated in the law, were not considered truly pious since through their ignorance, they could not possibly keep the law (m. P. Aboth 2:6; 1QS 10:19-21).” [Burge, 230]
They were saying to the temple guards in essence, “Because you believe Jesus’ words, you are uneducated, stupid, and cursed.”
The flip side is the “religious” people aren’t deceived
The religious leaders are basically saying, “We’ve studied the scriptures all our lives and know what the law says and it doesn’t match what Jesus is saying.”
“Jesus is trying to deceive us, but we know better.”
The amazing thing is that the religious leaders use a common argument
NONE of the rulers or the Pharisees believe in Him
They believe they know what everyone in their group thinks
They speak for everyone even though they don’t know for certain that everyone agrees with them
Immediately, we find out that they don’t speak for everyone
Nicodemus was part of the rulers and Pharisees – their group
He had gone to Jesus at night, now he is speaking up publicly when Jesus and His message is being marginalized and discounted
Eventually he will join together with Joseph of Arimathea to prepare Jesus’ body for burial (John 19:39)
Nicodemus is simply pleading for fairness based on their own law
The religious leader’s response is a harsh one – are you from Galilee, too?
They are questioning his heritage and upbringing
Can anything good come from Nazareth in Galilee (Nathanael asked that question in John 1:46)
That was probably the same feelings of the religious leaders at this point
They challenge Nicodemus to do what they all were supposed to be doing – search the Scriptures!
They were confident that a prophet does not come out of Galilee
There were two Old Testament prophets they came from Galilee – Jonah and Nahum
It is probable that they were referring to The Prophet, promised during the time of Moses
This would be referring to the Messiah also, since they are one in the same
“How ironic that only the masses who are said to be scripturally illiterate have a clue regarding Jesus’ actual identity, while those who boast of their scriptural expertise are ignorant of who Jesus truly is.” [Köstenberger, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, John, 243]
Read 1 Corinthians 1:27-29
That’s what spiritual pride can do to any one of us
PRINCIPLE #3 – Spiritual pride blinds us to the truth.
Thinking that we know what is best and what everyone is thinking can cause us to continue to pursue something that isn’t right or true
That can happen in our families, at work, and in the church
Perhaps we were taught something in the past and have continued to believe it is true today, even though it has been proven false
Pastor Marc mentioned this last week – it’s called “confirmation bias”
We can miss God’s will for our lives and the church if we allow spiritual pride to blind us to the truth
We may be hesitant to follow God’s leading in our lives because He may be asking us to do something we don’t want to do – we may think we know better than Him
We may not agree with the direction the church is going, because we think we know better
We may think we know how things should be done at church
We may think we know the best course of action
We may not realize that our ways are not God’s ways and our thoughts are not God’s thoughts
He may be stretching us and asking us to trust Him to move out of our comfort zone
He may be asking us to pursue Him in deeper ways and not just a shallow, cultural belief in Him
He may be calling us to greater ministry, to greater faith, but we don’t follow His leading because we know better
Spiritual pride can blind us to the truth of what God wants to do in and through us and the church
My Next Step Today Is To: Confess my spiritual pride to the Lord and trust Him and His plans for my life and the life of the church.
Jesus has invited us to drink of the living water that He offers – how will you respond to His offer?
Jesus promises to give the Holy Spirit to those who believe in Him – have you asked the Lord to fill you with His Holy Spirit for a specific task to further His kingdom?
We can all struggle with spiritual pride and when we confess that to the Lord, He will do incredible things through us and Idaville Church
“Conversion is hardly safe. After all, it requires approaching the King of the Universe, face to face. In his book The Silver Chair, C.S. Lewis draws an analogy with the story of a young girl named Jill. She's in the land of Narnia, and she's thirsty. At once she sees a magnificent stream . . . and a fearsome lion (Aslan, who represents the Lord Jesus):
‘If I run away, it'll be after me in a moment,’ thought Jill. ‘And if I go on, I shall run straight into its mouth.’ Anyway, she couldn't have moved if she had tried, and she couldn't take her eyes off it. How long this lasted, she could not be sure; it seemed like hours. And the thirst became so bad that she almost felt she would not mind being eaten by the Lion if only she could be sure of getting a mouthful of water first. . ..
‘Are you not thirsty?’ said the Lion.
‘I'm dying of thirst,’ said Jill.
‘Then drink,’ said the Lion.
‘May I . . . could I . . . would you mind going away while I do?’ said Jill.
The Lion answered this only by a look and a very low growl. And as Jill gazed at its motionless bulk, she realized that she might as well have asked the whole mountain to move aside for her convenience. The delicious rippling noise of the stream was driving her nearly frantic.
‘Will you promise not to . . . do anything to me, if I do come?’ said Jill.
‘I make no promise,’ said the Lion.
Jill was so thirsty now that, without noticing it, she had come a step nearer.
‘Do you eat girls?’ she said.
‘I have swallowed up girls and boys, women and men, kings and emperors, cities and realms,’ said the Lion. It didn't say this as if it were boasting, nor as if it were sorry, nor as if it were angry. It just said it.
‘I daren't come and drink,’ said Jill.
‘Then you will die of thirst,’ said the Lion.
‘Oh dear!’ said Jill, coming another step nearer. ‘I suppose I must go and look for another stream then.’
‘There is no other stream,’ said the Lion. It never occurred to Jill to disbelieve the Lion . . . no one who had seen his stern face could do that . . . and her mind suddenly made itself up.
It was the worst thing she had ever had to do, but she went straight to the stream, knelt down, and began scooping up water in her hand. It was the coldest, most refreshing water she had ever tasted. You didn't need to drink much of it, for it quenched your thirst at once. Before she tasted it she had been intending to make a dash away from the Lion the moment she had finished. Now, she realized that this would be on the whole the most dangerous thing of all.”
C.S. Lewis, The Silver Chair (Collier Books), pp.16-18; Eugene A Maddox, Interlachen, Florida