The Promise – Part 1
“‘Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.’” (John 7:38 NIV)
No man who ever walked the earth ever made such an outlandish promise. Buddha never came close to anything like it, nor did Mohammed or any other religious leader throughout the ages. It was Jesus alone who had the authority and the wherewithal, not only to make the promise, but to fulfill it as well. What was that promise? The Bible says that “on the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, ‘Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.’”
In his gospel, the apostle John tells us that when Jesus made that incredible claim, he was in Jerusalem for the Festival of Tabernacles. This was a celebration that had been going on for centuries to commemorate the fact that God had supplied manna and water to his people when they were delivered from slavery in Egypt. On the last day of the festival, the priest would lead a procession to a pool outside the temple environs, where he would get water in a large jar and march ceremonially into the temple enclosure. Then, as an offering to God, the priest would pour out the water as a remembrance—in essence saying to the Lord, “You gave us water when we were thirsty. You gave our forefathers that which satisfies.” Jesus must have been standing with the throng and watching as the priest poured out that water. Imagine the courage—the boldness—it took for Jesus, a man who was dressed like everybody else and who was not yet thirty-three years old, to step forward in the midst of the pomp and circumstance and cry out in a loud voice: “Anyone who is thirsty, let him come to me and drink, and I will satisfy your thirst.”
No wonder the religious authorities who didn’t believe in Jesus said, “We’ve got to kill him!” No wonder some called him a fanatic and a madman. How could someone claim to be the answer for everyone on the planet when it came to satisfying their innermost need? What person ever claimed that? Jesus didn’t just say, “I’ll lead you” or “I’ll teach you.” No, he was saying, “I will satisfy you”! Not “I’ll give you something to satisfy you,” but rather, “ I am your satisfaction. When you have me, you have everything you need.” What Jesus was saying was that he would bring satisfaction to the inner emptiness of people, to that inner void that nothing else could fill—not money, not pleasure, not success, not a spouse or children, not a new car or house. He said, “If you’re thirsty… if you’ve tried all that other stuff and you’re still unfulfilled, and you still feel that something is missing, then you can come to me.”
Certainly Jesus is the Son of God, or he’s the most prominent religious charlatan to ever walk the face of the earth, because the promise he made, and still makes today, is a startling one…
To be continued…
Read John 7:25-38.