“In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.” John 7:37
“…if any man thirst…”
Why would anyone be thirsty in a feast? This was the “…great day of the feast…”. That was certainly not a time of scarcity by any measurement. A feast is full of all kinds of assorted foods and drinks. Vintage wines and juices are commonly displayed to the satisfaction of all. Definitely, you don’t expect to see anyone thirsty on such a final day of festivities.
The Failure of Religion
Hence, when the LORD said, “…if any man thirst…”, it was a strange message. In fact, an unpopular message. He who knew the true condition of the people spoke to their very situation. He could not be deceived by the physical appearances of things. He saw the shallowness of their lives, the leannness of their souls, despite the robustness of their appearances. He who looks at the heart knows your present situation and He has come to offer your a permanent solution.
The people were in a very religious feast, one they could claim was commanded by God, yet they were still strangers to that very God, because they haven’t partaken of the LIFE He offers in Christ Jesus. Now, this is a very daisy matter. To be involved in “commanded” spiritual activities (fellowship, offerings, sacrament, meetings) and still not know Him is the bane of our gatherings today. But, you know, the LORD is so gracious! So compassionate! Instead of criticizing them, He simply offered them what they were lacking. Therefore, it is no longer up to Him for you to drink of this LIFE; it is now up to you. It is not a crime for Him to cut through the whole charade to the real need of your soul.
The human condition depicted in John 5
We see a similar situation in John chapter 5. It was also a feast (v.1) and there was a sight in this feast that is very disturbing. It is a sad display of the human condition. This was not what you expect to see in a feast. There was “…a great multitude of impotent folk, of blind, halt, withered, waiting for the moving of the water.” (v.3).
The record shows that only one person will be healed at any point in time when the angel comes to trouble the water. And the people trusted in this seasonal “divine” intervention that the multitude of those who needed help eventually moved to the Bethesda premises. This is all happening while the LORD Himself was around. The One who wants to help them was there but He was ignored and dismissed. They wanted an angel who cannot confront them with the truth to attend to them. (That’s why the angel told Cornelius to send for Peter because angels are not the ones to preach – Acts 10:5-6). This is to show the heart of the natural man. He will like to get a solution to his problem, as long as it doesn’t trouble his conscience and require him to repent.
Unfortunately, we see this kind of thing even in our own days, where men with legitimate gifts of healing have resolved to be like that angel in John 5, whose mouth is shut to the message of the kingdom, while offering healing to the sick. The people love it so. They will queue up for days and months even though only one person will be healed at any healing moment. Yet, the LORD Jesus who could help all of them was there but they were not interested in Him.
The veil of religion
This is the veil that religion has casted on the face of multitude in today’s super-religious times. It occupies and preoccupies men with activities that wearies them out, yet they continue with it regardless of the unbelievably low results. As long as it doesn’t touch the inner decay of their hearts, they will gladly pay to scheme their way into the one available spot that guaranteed quick access to the “troubled water”.
Troubled Water or Rivers of Living Water
Mankind generally prefers a ” troubled water” to the “rivers of living water” that Jesus promises those who come to Him. Man will naturally believe in something he can see, taste, and touch. We will like to put God’s power into a bottle that we can carry around, just so we feel completely secure and that all is under control. Whatever we can’t so much as put in our pockets, even if it is the LORD Jesus that is offering us, we can’t commit to it. Not knowing that the power of God you can carry in bottles or cans of oil and water are snares that reduces the capacity of the divine unction to help us. Once it is bottled, you have denied God that complete Omnipotence He requires to work.
That is why the “troubled water” of John 5 can only help one person per time. Since the power of God has been bottled up and caged, as it were, into that location, it could not achieve any eternal purpose again (by pointing men to Jesus). It has now become a shrine that will receive the attention and worship of the multitude, rather than a guidepost to the Man of Calvary.
LIFE interrupts dead religion
Jesus Christ came to that impotent man who had been there for a long time, and has not been able to get through into the troubled water. The odds were seriously against him. The Rivers of Living Water came to him, and you know, this is a clear water. It is a water that clearly diagnoses your case and does not postpone the solution. While the man was still giving reasons why he was in his situation, Jesus simply gave the command to rise, pick up his bed and walk. “And immediately the man was made whole, and took up his bed, and walked: and on the same day was the sabbath.” (John 5:9). Will you allow Him that can give you LIFE to interrupt your infatuation with religion?
This is the true gospel. It is an error for anyone to be born again and still be gathered among the impotent folk and the bedridden ones. How can the grace of God be impotent in you? And how can the New Life you have received be bedridden? When you refuse to allow the old things to pass away (2 Corinthians 5:17), the things (assets) of the New Life will not materialize. So, we see that when we drink of this water that Jesus gives, there is instant restoration.
“…the man was made whole…”
It was a complete work. His spirit, soul and body received a divine resuscitation of Grace. What others were struggling to get, by the mercies of a compassionate Saviour, he received in a moment. This is how Jesus interrupts our unsatisfactory religious experiences to connect us with true LIFE. As many as are willing to drink, the Saviour is still standing and crying, “…If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.” (7:37).
“…I have no man…”
Unfortunately, those who still have strength to struggle for the troubled water will not stop to consider this matter. They have not gotten to the end of themselves. They still have “a man”, the old man, that self or fleshy life that cannot please God (Romans 8:8). And that “man” blinds them to the reality because he serves the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4). So, you see that religion only appeals to those who still have self as strong as ever in them.
Self loves be the center of religion and is it not why churches must always cater to the desires of people to attract them for a service or special program? The thing that is strong in you today determines what side of the divide you are. If it is self, you will still be very active in and highly captivated by religion. But if self is finished to the point you can say, “I have no man”, then you are ready to drink that water that will take your life out of the weakness of religion to a wholeness of LIFE. Why don’t you call on Him now and He will give you that water of LIFE.
Oh LORD, how long I have contributed to the weakness of religion by patronizing it! And it is because I am full of my self. That is why I am easily attracted because it promises me something that looks good but doesn’t satisfy permanently. I have wasted my strength for that which is not genuine (Isaiah 55:2). Now, I look away from self to Jesus. I receive the water You give that satisfies and makes whole. Thank you Jesus. AMEN.
NOTE: Unless otherwise stated, all Scripture quotations are from the King James Version
Picture Credits: Immanuel Baptist Church Sheridan Arkansas, FaithLife