A Word for Today | John 7:37-38
The apostle John links his record of Jesus Christ to the feast celebrations of ancient Jerusalem. John chapter 7 thus tells us, “Now the Jews’ Feast of Booths was at hand” (Jn. 7:2). This festival – also called the Feast of Tabernacles – celebrated both the ingathering of the fall harvest and God’s faithfulness in providing for Israel during the exodus journey. It is in this context, during a ritual where water was poured out in celebration of God’s gift of life, that Jesus stood forth before crying aloud: “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink” (Jn. 7:37).
Jesus was declaring, in the words of J. C. Ryle, “that He is the true fountain of life, the supplier of all spiritual necessities, the reliever of all spiritual wants.” Thirst is one of the most powerful of human needs. Jesus was of course speaking of a thirst of the soul. He calls to those deeply conscious of their need to be cleansed of sin, be renewed in spirit, and find acceptance with God. Do you thirst in this way? If you do – if you long for God, for belonging, for meaning, and for salvation, then Jesus’ invitation is addressed to you.
This is what Christianity offers to the needy world: life for thirsty souls. To come to Jesus is to know your guilt but rejoice in full forgiveness. It is to desire power for a more godly life and find through faith the indwelling Spirit of God in our hearts. Jesus promises an abundance of blessings from the Spirit to meet our every spiritual need: “Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water’” (Jn. 7:38). How vital it is, then, that we not drift from an active life of faith and discipleship during these times when so many have been separated from the life of the church. We need life from God – now more than ever – and we receive it from Jesus through faith.
So how does a thirsty soul receive this drink that Jesus offers? Is there some quest to perform? Must we accumulate a certain number of good deeds? Can a check be written out to gain entrance? Jesus puts it simply – and here is the heart of his gospel – “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me.” Jesus means that we must believe in him; we come to him not with our feet but with our faith. Just as we dip into a fountain with a cup, our faith receives the grace of Christ and we drink it in our souls. As we walk with him, our thirsty hearts drinking from the salvation he daily gives, he offers peace and purity and power. What a Savior!
In Christ’s Love,
 J. C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on the Gospels: John, 3 vols. (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1999), 2:45.