Flowing Rivers of Living Water
The account continues from yesterday. The people in Jerusalem just don’t know what to make of Jesus. It certainly seems that he must be the Messiah; after all, “When the Christ appears, will he do more signs than this man has done?” But then they question among themselves that they know where this man comes from, and that when the Messiah appears, no one will know where he comes from. This was a popular idea with no Old Testament support; Matthew 2:5-6 plainly shows that the Rabbis knew that the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem. But the people knew that Jesus came from Nazareth and assumed that he was born there, thus explaining much of the confusion (John 7:50-52).
But this raises the question of Jesus’ being sent. It was his “sent-ness” that Jesus constantly refers to throughout the Gospel of John. Jesus asks rhetorically, “You know me, and you know where I come from?” as if to say, “Really?” Jesus then adds, “I have not come of my own accord. He who sent me is true, and Him you do not know. I know Him, for I come from Him, and He sent me.” It is our Lord’s being sent from the Father and fulfilling the Father’s will that stands front and center in John’s gospel. Jesus is who he is because of his relationship to the Father. He comes from the Father to earth – which points to his coming from the Father in heaven – his being begotten of the Father before eternity (John 1:1-3; Hebrews 1:1-3).
And then on the last day of the feast, we are told that Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of His heart will flow rivers of living water.’” And then John does us the favor of informing us that Jesus was speaking of the Holy Spirit, whom those who believed in him would receive when Jesus was glorified, that is, upon his death, resurrection, and ascension. We later learn in John 14-16 that the Holy Spirit is sent by the Father and the Son, who, like the Son, speaks not of his own but of the Son, who spoke of the Father. It’s the way the Holy Trinity works, because it is the way the Holy Trinity is. But let us focus for a moment on the words of Jesus which compare the Holy Spirit to “flowing rivers of water.” Jesus said a similar thing to the woman at the well, “The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (4:14). The Spirit is our present guide and teacher, the cause of our joy and our strength, our assurance of salvation, the One who convicts and comforts, our source of living water, and guarantee of eternal refreshment – God in us.