Markethill Free Presbyterian Church
Sermon Preached By
Rev. Thomas Murray
Drinking At The Fountain Head
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
As we come into this chapter we find Galilee in a great stir. Summer giving way to Autumn the people began to prepare for the Feast of Tabernacles. Being one of the most enjoyable of all the feasts it lasted several days.
Being designed to recall their forefather's journeyings in the wilderness they left their homes. Coming up into the hills around Jerusalem they dwelt in booths made of the boughs of olives, pines and palms. On the final day, in order to recall that moment in the wilderness when the water sprung forth from the rock, one of the priests taking with him a golden vessel went down into the pool of Siloam. Drawing up three logs of water he then carried them in triumphal procession through the water gate into the courts of the temple. The trumpets sounding, the great choirs singing "with joy we shall draw water out of the wells of salvation" he then poured it out. Flowing past the altar and down the steps and into the streets of the city the Lord Jesus Christ lifting up his voice cried "if any man thirst let him come unto me, and drink". Drinking he said not only water but rivers of water would flow out of their bellies.
In Christ there is not only life but rivers of life. Life overflowing and abundant. Indeed, speaking in John 10:10 The Lord said "I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly". Coming into the life Christ does not impoverish but enriches it. Swallowing up death he gives life exceeding and superabundant. Do not believe the devil's lie that the Christian life is dull and miserable. He makes life worth living. A man's wife going out to church he falling under deep conviction paced up and down the floor. Going into the kitchen and turning the tap on and off his little girl said "Daddy, if you're thirsty take a drink?". Have you drunk of this water?
1. THE POVERTY HE EXPOSED: This feast celebrating the safe in gathering of the harvest feast it was a time of great festivity. In Deuteronomy 16 they were commanded to rejoice. Yet now gazing behind the outward cries of laughter notice:-
a) The Desolation He Beheld: Looking into the deepest recesses of their hearts we read in v37 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. He was here addressing the worshippers at the feast. For seven day they rising each morning had diligently come up into the courts of the temple. Offering their sacrifices and publicly singing the Psalms they had in the evenings gone out into the hills. Rather than forgetting the goodness of God they dwelling into booths remembered their father's journeyings in the wilderness. Yet despite remembering, worshipping and feasting they were still thirsting
The mere form of religion rather than satisfying stirs the souls. It is unable to quench its inner thirst. Indeed, despite being a member of the richest, proudest and most sanctimonious class in society and gaining promotion to the Sanhedrin we read concerning Nicodemus in John 3:2 The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.. Despite fasting twice a week and keeping all the feasts in all of their detail we still find him here secretly seeking out the Saviour. His Pharisaism was inadequate. It was unable to meet his inner yearnings. Indeed, Solomon cried out "all is vanity and vexation of spirit".
It is not the praising of Christ but the person of Christ that saves and satisfies. He alone is able to quench that inner thirst. There used to be an advert for a bar of chocolate and across it was the caption in "it really satisfies". Then below were the words "Eat one today and tomorrow you will want another". Like that bar of chocolate the outward form of religion and even the world may satisfy and yet they do not satisfy. Tomorrow your soul will still desire more. The hymn writer realising this he cried-
"Now none but Christ can satisfy,
No other name for me".
While I want to encourage you to come to church and read your Bible and sing the hymns they in themselves cannot satisfy.
b) The Danger He Beheld: Seeing beyond the superficial we read in v37 Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.. Thirst is one of the most pressing physical needs of the human body. Causing excruciating pain its swells the tongue suffocating life within. While man can do without food for many days and even weeks he cannot survive long without water. In describing himself as the water of life he was reminding them that without him their souls would soon wither and die.
Without Christ man is without hope. While he can survive without religion he cannot survive without the redeemer. Reminding the Ephesian converts of this Paul said in Ephesians 2:12 That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: . He reminded them that without the Lord they were not only without the presence and blessing of God but they were without eternal hope.
As man's body is without water so is his soul without Christ. It will eventually perish. In ancient times the Prison de la Roquette, in Paris was set apart for criminals who were sentenced to death. Over its hideous iron gates were inscribed the words "Abandon hope, all ye who enter here". Sometimes people get the idea that Christ is but one of many ways to heaven. Like a car or a dish washer you can either do with or without him. Outside of Christ there is no hope. You live without him and you will die without him. As a man cannot survive without water you cannot live eternally without Christ. Without him you will perish.
c) The Division He Beheld: His words piercing their hearts we read in v43 So there was a division among the people because of him. . His words echoing through the autumn air there was a great division. While some believed others rejecting him as an impostor were infuriated. Rising up they eventually laying hands upon him crucified him. While some believed others rejected him.
The water of life rather than unifying it divides men. It either softens or hardens the hearts. Indeed, speaking unto the Corinthians Paul said in 2 Corinthians 2:16 To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things?. Preaching Christ there was division. Separating some unto life eternal it drove others to eternal damnation
As a sword the gospel divided. It either softens or hardens the heart. Did you ever see the piece of ground that refuses to drink in the rain? What happens? It gradually gets harder and harder until it cannot drink it in. This message will either have one of two effects. It will either harden or soften your heart. You must either accept or reject the Lord Jesus Christ.
2. THE PICTURE HE EMPLOYED: The priests pouring out this water every eye became fixed upon it. Watching it wind its way through the streets the Lord using it to set forth salvation notice:-
a) Its Fountain: Describing this scene in the 47th chapter of Ezekiel we read in v1 "behold, waters issued out from under the threshold of the house eastward: ...and ...the waters came down from under from the right side of the house, at the south side of the altar". The feast coming to a climax the priest came into the outer sanctuary. Washing at the Laver and then pouring out this water it flowed beneath the altar. The brazen altar was the place of the sacrifice. There the blood was shed.
The water of life flows not from the example but the expiation of Christ. It comes from Calvary's altar. Indeed, this incident takes us back into Exodus 17. As the rock there did not yield its life giving flow until it was smitten by the rod so Christ being smitten at the cross we read in John 19:34 But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water..
As there can be no harvest without the death of the seed there is no hope apart from the death of the Saviour. It flows from his wounded side. Realising this John Newton cried out -
"Thus while His death my sin displays.
In all its blackest hue,
Such is the mystery of grace.
It seals my pardon too".
Just as without the piercing of Adam's side there would have been no bride so the bride of Christ comes out of his side. The hymn writer said -
"what can wash away my sin.
Nothing but the blood of Jesus.
What can make me whole again
Nothing but the blood of Jesus".
This life giving flow coming from the cross it is to the cross you need to go.
b) Its Fullness: Drinking this water we read in v38 He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. . Quenching their thirst it produced not merely a river but rivers. Each river being different they not only speaks to us of variety but welling up within we are told they eventually overflowed. They could not be contained. As well as quenching their thirst this water overflowing fully satisfied.
In Christ there is not only salvation but satisfaction. He quenches the inner thirst. Indeed, speaking unto the children of Israel the prophet said in Isaiah 58:11 And the LORD shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought, and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not. Again Christ becoming the psalmist's shepherd he said "my cup runneth over".
In Christ there is not only life but luxury. He fills the soul until it flows over. In the 60 or 70's there used to be a popular rock song "I cant get no satisfaction " The problem was they were drinking at the wrong fountain. If only you come to Christ you will not only be satisfied but your heart will overflow. He gives peace that passes understanding, assurance, hope etc.
c) Its Flow: v38 the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.. Rivers flowing through a dry land they transform it
The water of life not only thrills but transforms the heart. It changes it beyond recognition. Old desires passing away he will give you new and holy desires.
3. THE PROPOSAL HE EMPHASISED: Setting before them this water he then urged them to come. Notice concerning this invite:-
a) Its Reach: v37 Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. . Thirst is an awful things. It creates not only a consciousness of ones need but the desire for water. As such he was here calling not all men but only those who had an awareness of their need and a desire for him.
The call of the gospel is confined to the needy. To those who seek him. You say I would love to get saved but I am afraid I have committed the unpardonable sin. The fact that you are aware of your need and have this thirst indicates he is calling you.
b) Its Requirement: v37 Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. . The mere sight of water is unable to quench thirst. In fact it makes it worse. It must be drunk.
As well as contemplating there must be a consuming of the water of life. An appropriating of it. Horatius Bonar preaching on the words "whosoever will" said "whosoever that includes you. Will does that include you". There must be a willingness to come. As all that is necessary for evil men to triumph is good men to do nothing so all that is necessary for you to be lost is to do nothing. There must be a drinking or claiming of him.
c) Its Restriction: v37 In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried. Being the last day of the feast the people were on the point of dispersing to their homes. Lifting up his voice he knew that he would never speak to many of them again. Indeed, in the previous he said "Ye shall seek me, and shall not find me". This for many was their last invitation.
This invitation is restricted in its length. Being rejected it is eventually withdrawn. A number of years ago the governor of Pennsylvania was asked to pardon a young man on death row. Refusing he said "the law must run its course". Eventually going to see the young man he entering the condemned cell explained he was a Christian and urged him to drink of the water of life. After he left the young man asked the warder who this Christian gentleman was. Explaining it was the governor the young man breaking down he cried "if only I had known it was the governor I would have fallen at his feet and asked for pardon". The Lord will not always plead. While he is here will you not fall down and ask for pardon.