Rivers of Living Water.

The more I get to know Jesus, the more I realize everything he did was strategic and intentional. Everything was on purpose and everything held significance to the people he was talking to. This is none more apparent then in the book of John. I have been going through it the last few weeks and I stumbled across something that caused me to just sit and stare at my Bible with my mouth hanging open. I think people were pointing and laughing at me… but that’s beside the point.

In John 7 we find Jesus and his band of merry men at the Feast of Booths (or Tabernacles). In Zecheriah it says this about the Feast…

Then everyone who survives of all the nations that have come against Jerusalem shall go up year after year to worship the King, the Lord of Hosts, and to keep the Feast of Booths. And if any families of the earth do not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of Hosts, there will be no rain on them. 

You see, the Feast of Booths was a celebration of the harvest. This feast happened at the end of the year, after all the crops were harvested. And we all know how important rain is to those who make their living on crops. Zecheriah clearly says the people of Israel were to head to Jerusalem for the feast or they wouldn’t get any rain. So, not only was the feast a celebration of the past year it was a also an acknowledgment of the need for water for the coming year. Water was a key component of the feast.

Keep that in mind while I change gears for a second…

Not only was water significant for Israel and their crops, but it also played an important role in purification rights. All throughout the Bible we see examples of the nation of Israel washing their hands or cleansing themselves with water (see Leviticus 11-15.) As a matter of fact, Jewish biblical and oral law suggests some things make a person so unclean they must put their entire self underwater. And here is the most interesting part, you couldn’t just get in any pool or body of water, it had to be living water. This meant a stream, river, or natural spring. It had to be flowing, living, and active.

As far as I can tell, there a lot of things that require submersion in living water, however, there are two which are incredibly fascinating. The first is conversion to Judaism requires a person to clean themselves in living water. The second is when a person comes into contact with a dead animal or person, they must wash themselves living water. The second one is pretty obvious…

But let the implications of that sink in for just a second…

It’s almost as if a conversion to Judaism requires a person to wash off their old self. To wash away their past before they can truly enter into right standing in the Jewish faith.

Similarly, a person who comes into contact with death must wash it away. Clean themselves from decay and come into full life.

Some of you know where I am going with this…

With all that in mind, listen to the words of Jesus as he talks to the Samaritan woman at the well.

Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” 

Jesus is offering this woman living water. The water that cleans. The water that heals. The water that brings life. Could you IMAGINE the implications of this??

Let’s keep tracking. Obviously the woman doesn’t understand…

“Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his flocks and herds?” 

For those of you that know anything about wells you know they are dug deep into underground aquifers which are, incidentally enough, underground rivers. And not only is this water a type of living water, it was dug by Jacob himself. Jacob was a father of the nation of Israel, he was a patriarch. He was at the beginning. In short, he was a legend.

And here is this lady looking at Jesus and she asks him, “You are better then this? You are more than this?” Can you feel the intensity rising? There air is about to explode…

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” 

Jesus looks straight at her and says whoever drinks of this well will be thirsty again. You will need this well again. You will be unclean again. You will have to keep coming back here. Over and over and over. But what Jesus is offering is a living water so great and so vast and so amazing, we will never need another. We will be clean. We will be alive. We will be pure.

Jesus is claiming to be the source and if we would just accept it and drink deep, we would walk with him into eternity.

You see, the whole book of John is characterized by symbols. The Jews believed everything meant something. It all stood for something. Living water. Bread of life. The true vine. It was all significant. It was a symbol for God and what he is and how he had provided for them as a nation. And Jesus comes on the scene and says HE IS those things. He is the living water. He is the true vine. He is the bread of life. He is the FULFILLMENT of the law. The FULFILLMENT of everything the Jews had ever believed. He says everything in their culture pointed to and led up to him and his ultimate sacrifice on the cross. He was the beginning and the end. He was and is EVERYTHING.

But here is the best part. Here is the good news for you and me. Here is the application.

Whoever believes in me, as scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.

That Jesus who is the source has filled our hearts to overflowing with living water. His Spirit lives and breathes inside of us. It brings life not only to us, but to those around us. We are to set the captives free and bind the brokenhearted because the living water has been given to us that we should let it flow freely to all.

So, go and overflow.