The summer heat is finally here. I know you will agree that there is nothing more refreshing than a drink of cool, clean water when the weather is hot and dry. Our bodies need water regularly, especially when it is hot.
Water is not the only refreshment we need, though. We also need an inner refreshing that will give us a calm peacefulness, even when life is hard. Just as life-giving water refreshes our bodies, wouldn’t it be great if we had a place to go to get relief from the pressures of everyday life that leave us feeling emotionally parched?
Jesus Christ showed us where we can find that kind of soul refreshment. He used the Gihon Spring during the Feast of Tabernacles to demonstrate it.
Let me give you some background information that will make this story more meaningful.
The city of Jerusalem was built on its present site more than three thousand years ago. The ancient Jebusites built it there for two reasons. First, it’s height made it easy to defend. Second, since much of the surrounding land was dry, it had an excellent source of water. The Gihon Spring was at the base of the city wall, and it gushed with an ample supply of clean drinking water. Elaborate tunnels were later built to bring the life-giving water inside the walls of the city. The Gihon Spring has continued to provide water even to this day.
Water played an important role during the annual Jewish Feast of Tabernacles. Every day during the seven-day Feast, a priest would dip his pitcher into the spring water, and the people would recite Isaiah 12:3: “Therefore you will joyously draw water from the springs of salvation.” With trumpets blaring the crowd would march back to the Temple through the Water Gate. The priest would approach the altar, circle it once (seven times on the seventh day), and then pour the water out on the altar.
On the last day of this feast, perhaps at the exact time the priest was pouring the water on the altar, Jesus stood up and announced loudly, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink” (John 7:37). That statement would have caused quite a stir because Jesus was claiming that He could satisfy all of their deepest longings. After all, everyone who was listening understood what it meant to be thirsty.
We understand this too, and we understand being thirsty for more than water. For example, we all long (thirst) for joy, meaningful relationships, a sense of purpose, courage, more confidence, forgiveness, and to be loved. There is nothing wrong with having these thirsts. They are good things that we need.
The problem is not that we long for those things. Our problem is HOW we satisfy those longings.
John Piper explains it this way, “All men thirst. But not all thirst for God. It is not that our desire for pleasure is too strong but too weak! We have settled for a home, a family, a few friends, a job, a television, a microwave oven, an occasional night out, a yearly vacation, and perhaps a new personal computer. We have accustomed ourselves to such meager, short-lived pleasures that our capacity for joy has shriveled.”
This is why Jesus startled everyone when He stood before the crowd at the altar and offered Himself as the One who could satisfy our deepest longings.
The news gets even better. A satisfying relationship with Christ doesn’t even cost us a cent. “Ho! Every one who thirsts, come to the waters; and you who have no money come, buy and eat. Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost” (Isaiah 55:1). The benefits of forgiveness and a satisfying relationship with God are only possible because Jesus Christ has already paid for it. That is explained in Chapters 53 & 54 of Isaiah.
God tells us the same thing in the New Testament: “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). God’s salvation is not only awesome, it is also a free gift! All God asks is that we turn from our sin and put our trust in Him.
King David said, “My soul thirsts for God, for the living God” (Psalm 42:2). David learned that knowing God was more rewarding than all the temporary pleasures that this world can offer. Jesus explained it this way: “whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life”(John 4:14). God’s refreshing supply of joy will never run out!
Satisfy your thirst in God, and life will never be dry as dust again. As Jesus warns us, “Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you, for on Him the Father, God, has set His seal” (John 6:27).