‘There Is A Fountain’
Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
John 7:37 (Holman) On the last and most important day of the festival, Jesus stood up and cried out, AIf anyone is thirsty, he should come to Me and drink!@
The Feast of Tabernacles was celebrated in Autumn, when barley, wheat, and grape harvests had been gathered in. It was Israel=s gladdest time of year.
The Feast also memorialized incidents of the 40-year desert wandering. For the week-long festival, people moved out of their houses and lived in booths, a reminder they were at one time homeless wanderers in a desert.
Each day of the Feast, water was poured into a bowl beside the altar. This ceremony commemorated Yahweh=s giving water to Israel in the wilderness. By Jesus= time this ceremony had also become an act of thanksgiving for God=s ongoing gift of water, and served as an acted prayer for rain for next year=s crops.
Extra significance was attached to the water ceremony on the eighth day, the great day of the feast. They called this eighth day, the final festival day in the Jewish religious year, Athe last good day.@ On this day, their rejoicing climaxed.
A strange superstition had risen in Israel regarding this day. They believed the Messianic age would be characterized by a stream of water flowing from the Temple to all the earth. They expected a literal fulfillment of Joel 3:18b, AA spring will issue from the Lord=s house@ (see also Ezekiel 47:1-12, and Isaiah 35:6-7). They expected a literal river to flow from the temple.
Water had always been in short supply in Palestine. Each year the people hoped a river would spring out from under the altar to meet all their needs.
They became convinced this stream would start gushing forth some year during this water ceremony on the eighth day of this feast. The anticipation each year was electric. The eighth day water ceremony was the Feast=s climactic event.
White-robed priests marched in procession to the Pool of Siloam, where a golden quart pitcher was filled with water. It was carried back to the Temple, and poured into a basin beside the altar. A tube carried it to the base of the altar.
At this climactic moment a hush fell over the crowd. Everyone wondered if this would be the year the waters would flow. Everyone strained to see if a river would come gushing from beneath the altar. Try to imagine, in this moment of suspense, a sudden cry, AIf any one is thirsty, he should come to Me and drink!@
Jesus made a bold claim, asserting everything the rite pointed to was fulfilled and transcended in Him. Jesus was in essence saying, AYou seek water to quench physical thirst. Come to Me if you want spiritual thirst quenched.@
The Israelites did not realize they were thirsting for God. Many people don=t know what they want in life. They are trapped in an endless effort to fill deep-seated needs of their hearts with a multitude of trifles. Some are so busy gratifying lower desires of life that the highest wants are left uncared for.
All the while, the deepest yearnings, longings, and unrest cry, AMy soul thirsts for God, the living God.@ Nothing less than God can satisfy our yearnings.
Our human condition is sad. We must be begged to have life, joy, and peace, yet still reject it. Christ beckons us with all His wonderful love, often to no avail. On this occasion, Jesus stood and shouted. He was loud and intense. Under a heavy passion for His blinded kinsmen, He stood and yelled so everyone could see and hear Him. Jesus still cries out to people through the Holy Spirit.
The thirsty still have their thirst quenched in Jesus. The fountain yet flows. No one goes to the cross in vain. Calvary was called Golgotha, a place of skulls, but it is no longer this. Where people once went to die, they now go to live.
Everyone who goes to Calvary finds there mercy and grace in abundant supply. Mountains may become exhausted of gold, mines of diamonds, the ocean of its gems, the earth of its oil; but saving riches in Christ are inexhaustible.
William Cowper suffered from serious mental illness, including depression. He was a believer, but often felt doomed to Hell. Pastor John Newton, his friend, never gave up ministering to Cowper, who kept crying to Jesus for help over and over again. He learned God=s forgiveness always flowed. He wrote, AThere is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Immanuel=s veins.@
John 7:38 AThe one who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, will have streams of living water flow from deep within him.@
Jesus said a cleansing, refreshing stream will gush from the innermost being of all who believe on Him. The Spirit-filled life has an ongoing, outflowing nature. God meant for Israel to be like this, but they had became ingrown, withdrawn to themselves. They seemed to be making little effort to bless others.
Spirit-filled believers are not self-centered. What they receive from God is passed on to others. The Christian life is not a pond, but a bubbling stream.
Any pool that only receives eventually stagnates. The Dead Sea, taking in the Jordan River but giving nothing out, is lifeless. The same can happen to a believer. God will not long channel His blessing down a dead end street. He wants us to overflow into someone else=s empty cup.
All who trust Christ become like the Christ they trust. Jesus the Blesser makes His disciples blessers. He transforms us into the person Bunyan described, AThere was a man, the world did think him mad. The more he gave away, the more he had.@ Don=t muddy the Holy Spirit=s flowing water as it flows through us. Be sure the water goes out as clean as when it came in. Don=t pollute it by our life. Dirty water blesses no one.
John 7:39 He said this about the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were going to receive, for the Spirit had not yet been received, because Jesus had not yet been glorified.
The Holy Spirit always has been, but Jesus released Him in power. A huge power can long exist without being tapped. It can be available, but unknown.
For instance, people did not invent atomic power. It was always there. Only recently did we tap it. Similarly believers had glimpses and foretastes of the Spirit before Jesus, but only after Pentecost were the floodgates opened. First fruits were given earlier; the full harvest had to wait.
Christ entered His full dominion after His resurrection. His giving us the Holy Spirit was the ultimate display of this dominion.
The difference in the Holy Spirit=s outpouring before and after Pentecost is well illustrated in looking at the disciples before and after that day. They were transformed. Timidity became boldness.
The gift of the Holy Spirit was purchased by the blood of Christ. The life and death of Jesus glorified the Spirit by revealing what a person completely yielded to the Spirit can do. Before Jesus, the Spirit was conceived of mainly as a power, but after Jesus, the Spirit is viewed as a Person. He has become to us the presence and power of the Risen Christ always with us.
John 7:40-42 When some from the crowd heard these words, they said, AThis really is the Prophet!@ Others said, AThis is the Messiah!@ But some said, ASurely the Messiah doesn=t come from Galilee, does He? Doesn=t the Scripture say that the Messiah comes from David=s offspring and from the town of Bethlehem, where David once lived?@
Many were glad to find an excuse for not believing on Jesus. A little investigation would have destroyed their shallow pretext. Jesus did come from Bethlehem, and was a descendant of David. These hypocrites wrongly handled Holy Writ to justify unbelief. They knew it looks good to have Scripture on their side. Even Satan uses Scripture. The sword of the Spirit, like other swords, can be used for suicide as well as war.
John 7:43-44 So a division occurred among the crowd because of Him. Some of them wanted to seize Him, but no one laid hands on Him.
Christ=s words divided. This will be the case as long as Earth stands. Jesus brought division, not peace (Luke 12:51). Learn from this. We can not please everyone, however true our words or however peaceful our spirit. A state of entire quiet, the absence of any religious division, often is not a healthy sign of a church=s condition. It may symptomize spiritual disease and death. The question could possibly need to be raised, AIs Christ there?@