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Are You Thirsty for More Than This World Has to Offer?

In John 7:37, Jesus gives a stunning invitation: “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink.”Notice that this invitation is not given to everyone but to a particular group: “If anyone thirsts.” That’s who this invitation is directed to.

Now, in order to really get that, you have to understand what was going on in Jerusalem when Jesus said this. There was something happening called the Feast of Booths. This was one of the three major feasts of the Jewish calendar year which all Jewish men were required to attend in order to celebrate the harvest.

Society was very much oriented around agriculture, so the harvest was a big deal, and they wanted to celebrate the harvest they had just taken in. So everybody came down to Jerusalem around mid-October and constructed these small, temporary dwellings to camp out in for a week, called “booths” or “tabernacles.”

Also, one of the most important rituals that would take place at this festival involved water being poured out. Every day for seven days, a priest would go to a pool in the city and use a big golden pitcher to draw out some water, and then he and the people with him would have a parade from the pool down to the temple and to the altar in the temple, where he would then pour the water from the pitcher into a bowl beside the alter.

And this whole procession of him doing this was a really big deal—kind of like the Olympic torch being carried—because the water the priest carried and poured out represented a prayer for rain for the upcoming year. They were celebrating the rain that had come the past year and also acting out a prayer for rain in the upcoming year, which of course would lead to another fruitful harvest.

So in John 7, after everyone’s done this water ceremony each day for seven days, Jesus stands up and cries out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink.”

You know, we may not have an elaborate water-pouring ritual like this first-century Jews had, but Jesus’ words should also resonate with us—because Jesus is obviously referring to a spiritual thirst that everyone should have.

It’s natural for us the thirst for some more, something deeper, than this world offers us.

And there’s a good reason for that. God created us to have a relationship with him. That’s the way we’re wired for. As human beings, we’re full, satisfied, and complete when and only when we’re in a close relationship with God.

When you think about it, that’s what we enjoyed when God first created us. But then something happened.

Humanity rebelled against God, and because of that rebellion, we immediately became alienated from him. That close relationship that originally existed was immediately torn apart when the first humans sinned.

No longer could they know God or enjoy God or be with God. Instead, they were shut out from God’s presence—shut out from enjoying the relationship they were created to enjoy.

Think about an eagle or some other kind of majestic bird that has a broken wing. Normally, that eagle would be soaring through the sky, enjoying incredible freedom and going wherever it wanted to go and feeling the wind running through its feathers. But instead, because of its broken wing, it’s hobbling along the ground.

I’m no animal expert, but I know that eagle is probably not very happy—because it’s not enjoying what it was created to enjoy. And that’s the way we are apart from God.

Because we were created for something more, it’s quite natural for us to feel a desire for something more. Or in the terminology of Jesus in John 7, it’s quite natural for us to be thirsty. We should be thirsty.

So if you’re feeling frustrated with your life—not just frustrated with a particular situation but frustrated with life in general—this explains why.

This explains why no matter how much money you make or how many material possessions you accumulate or what kind of professional status you obtain or how many “good times” you have with your friends, none of those things bring you the fullness you’re looking for. You always feel strangely empty. You were created for something more.

And if you do feel that thirst—that deep inward longing and aching for something more than this world can provide—then I have some good news for you: you’re exactly the kind of person Jesus is directing his invitation toward in our text.

He invites the thirsty. And if you take him up on his offer, you’ll experience a depth of satisfaction you never before knew even existed.