John 7: 32 – 44: ”Streams in the desert.”
“32 The Pharisees heard the crowd whispering such things about him. Then the chief priests and the Pharisees sent temple guards to arrest him.33 Jesus said, ‘I am with you for only a short time, and then I am going to the one who sent me. 34 You will look for me, but you will not find me; and where I am, you cannot come.’35 The Jews said to one another, ‘Where does this man intend to go that we cannot find him? Will he go where our people live scattered among the Greeks, and teach the Greeks? 36 What did he mean when he said, “You will look for me, but you will not find me,” and “Where I am, you cannot come”?’37 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. 38 Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.’ 39 By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.40 On hearing his words, some of the people said, ‘Surely this man is the Prophet.’41 Others said, ‘He is the Messiah.’Still others asked, ‘How can the Messiah come from Galilee? 42 Does not Scripture say that the Messiah will come from David’s descendants and from Bethlehem, the town where David lived?’ 43 Thus the people were divided because of Jesus. 44 Some wanted to seize him, but no one laid a hand on him.” NIV
I suppose it is better to ”whisper” about Jesus (32), than to not speak about Him at all. The mention of ”whispering” here reflects the generally tense atmosphere in Jerusalem at that time. It was a dangerous period. Tension filled the air. There were people who were impressed by Jesus, but it wasn’t safe to express such sentiments. At least, that’s how many felt about it. So they kept their voices low.
Do you see a strong contrast with Jesus standing and raising His voice (37)? At the right time, He spoke His message loudly and clearly. He was prepared to die for it. He would die for it.
He spoke of a wonderful offer (37) – the satisfaction of spiritual ‘thirst’ (contrast with John 6:35). ‘Coming’ to Jesus and ‘believing’ in Him are two sides of the same coin (38). In Christ alone can the profound spiritual longings of the human race be assuaged. If you feel at all ‘thirsty’ now, you know who to go to.
But He also spoke of a glorious opportunity (38). Jesus can make us a blessing to the parched, dry, barren world around us. We receive from Jesus the Holy Spirit (39), when we come to Him/believe in Him, and then the Holy Spirit flows out from us in ”streams” (or ”rivers”). Remember these words were spoken in a hot, dusty culture where people really valued water and knew the seriousness of water shortage. A believer has an out-going, out-flowing life. This life brings life wherever it goes (see Ezekiel 47:1-12). And it doesn’t merely trickle; it ”streams”; it rushes like a river in flood. Jesus, by His Spirit, makes the believer like running water in a barren land. We are totally necessary to this world, and we need to ensure that we keep the outward focus.
But however loudly and clearly we speak about Jesus – repeating His offer to the world – and however refreshing our Spirit-filled lives may be, there will still be those who persecute and oppose (32, 44). There will also be those who are dull and lacking spiritual perception (35, 36). And we will find a divided response (40-43). The gospel has always had to face these differing realities, and will do so for as long as time lasts.
(By the way, contrast verse 27 with 41b, 42. Not everyone thought the same way. But even those who could say that the Messiah would come from Bethlehem didn’t seem to know that He had!)
Prayer: Help me Lord Jesus to keep bringing my thirst to you, looking to you alone for true satisfaction. And I pray you will keep on flowing through me by your Spirit, and affecting the world for good. Help me to keep moving in you, regardless of the responses of people. Let my life water the society in which you have placed me.