The ancient Jebusites founded the city of Jerusalem about three thousand years ago. They built it there for two reasons. First, its height made it easy to defend, but it also had an excellent source of water. The Gihon Spring at the base of the city wall 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 continues to provide pure water even today.
There is nothing more refreshing than cool, clean water when the weather is hot and dry.
We have plenty of pure, clean water today, but we also need a constant supply of inner refreshment, too. I say that for all the obvious reasons. We need a calm peacefulness when life gets difficult and discouraging. 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, pressures that often leave us feeling as dry as dust?
Jesus Christ used the Gihon Spring during the Feast of Tabernacles as an illustration of where we can go to find the kind of encouragement and happiness that we all need in this broken world.
In order to understand what Jesus said at the Gihon Spring, I must first explain the part that water played during the annual Jewish Feast of Tabernacles.
Every day during the seven-day Feast, a priest would dip his pitcher into the cool 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, circled it once (seven times on the seventh day), and then pour the water out on the altar.
On the last day of this feast, probably 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 must have caused quite a stir because Jesus was boldly offering Himself as the solution to a dry and meaningless existence. Everyone, after all, understands what it means to be thirsty – and not just for 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. We all have them.
The problem is how we go about trying to satisfy those longings. Author C.S. Lewis points out that we tend to settle for small things that offer limited satisfaction, rather than finding the things that are really important and worthwhile. Mr. Lewis explained that we put our focus on, “drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered.” He went on to explain that, “We are like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”
Why are we like that? Sin has contaminated our taste so that we don’t thirst for what we really need the most. Pastor John Piper explains it this way, “The hardest thing is not to satisfy thirst, but to make people feel a thirst for God. 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 their deepest longings.
The news gets even better. A satisfying relationship with Christ doesn’t 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). We have to come to God admitting that we are thirsty, but when we come, we find that the water (our forgiveness) has already been paid for.
Both the benefits of forgiveness and the satisfying relationship with God that come with it are possible because Christ has already done all the work of salvation. (For an example look at chapters 53 & 54 of Isaiah.) The Bible could not be any plainer: “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 an awesome, free gift!
A relationship with God has always been our greatest need. 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 why, “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 joy never runs out, and it’s never followed by a hangover. Satisfy your thirst in God by repenting of your sin and by telling Him that you want Him to come into your life. Trust in Jesus, and your life will never be dry as dust again.