Do You Thirst?
October 29, 2020 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments
Posted in: Pastoral Encouragement
Jesus makes one of the most beautiful invitations of the Gospels in John 7:37. “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink.” This invitation is comparable to Jesus’ in Matthew 11:28, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Jesus appeals to the “thirsty” and the “heavy laden” to come to him. These invitations are sweet and savored by those who are well acquainted with their thirst and burdens.
We have to ask, therefore, what does Jesus mean by “thirsts”? On a natural level, we understand what it means to thirst. One day while on vacation, my family did some hiking in Joshua Tree National Park. As we approached the park, we were confronted with many signs warning that there was no drinking water in the park; we needed to have all the water for our day with us. We stopped and purchased water bottles, at extorted prices, before entering. We were thankful, though, as a long day hiking in the hot sun left us thirsty. Our bodies felt the need for water.
That’s the kind of appetite Jesus is appealing to. Of course, he is not speaking of physical thirst. Jesus speaks of a spiritual kind of thirst, like the psalmist expresses in 42:2, “My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.” Like physical thirst, this spiritual thirst springs from a deficit. The psalmist expresses a need for God.
This deficit of God, or the need for God, is the result of sin. J.C. Ryle, commenting on John 7:37, explains this deficit. “It means anxiety of soul--conviction of sin--desire of pardon--longing after peace of conscience. When a man feels his sins, and wants forgiveness--is deeply sensible of his soul's need, and earnestly desires help and relief--then he is in that state of mind which our Lord had in view, when he said, ‘If any man thirst.’”
Not everyone feels this thirst. Ryle continues to expound, “All ought to feel it, and all would feel it if they were wise. Sinful, mortal, dying creatures as we all are, with souls that will one day be judged and spend eternity in heaven or hell, there lives not the man or woman on earth who ought not to ‘thirst’ after salvation. And yet the many thirst after everything almost except salvation. Money, pleasure, honor, rank, self-indulgence--these are the things which they desire. There is no clearer proof of the fall of man, and the utter corruption of human nature, than the careless indifference of most people about their souls. No wonder the Bible calls the natural man ‘blind,’ and ‘asleep,’ and ‘dead,’ when so few can be found who are awake, alive, and athirst about salvation.”
Ryle’s comments on this sweet invitation serve as a warning. We can thirst wrongly. We can ignore or downplay our thirst. We can seek to satisfy our spiritual thirst with things that will never satisfy. This invitation becomes an invitation to self-reflection. Do you feel your sins? Do you know your need of forgiveness and reconciliation? Do you desire help and relief?
Jesus says, if you thirst (i.e. know your deep sense of need created by your sin), come to him and drink of him. Only Jesus can satisfy.