September 11, 2022

The Abundant Life

Passage: John 7:37-38

The 1 Dead Sea is called the Dead Sea for a reason: it's dead.  This is because of its salt content.  It is the saltiest body of water on the planet, nine times saltier than the ocean. It is so salty that no fish can live in it and there are no water plants – only minuscule quantities of bacteria and microbial fungi are present .  This is a big body of water – 10 miles by 50 miles.  If you look out over the water, you'll never see a skier.  You will never see people building vacation homes on its banks.  It's desolate.  The only people who like the saltiness of the Dead Sea are first-time tourists to Israel, because they can float on the water.  It's impossible to sink in water that is that salty.  So tour buses drive there, people float and then they leave.  In all the Dead Sea is an attraction because of its deadness.  Jesus had a different symbolism in mind for His people when He delivered a message on the last day of the Feast of the Tabernacles – “Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.”  Those words remind us of another expression Jesus made – “I have come that you may have life and have it in abundance.”  You see the only life Jesus always has in mind for people who come to Him is The Abundant Life.

Let's look at the setting when Jesus spoke these words about rivers of living water: The Jewish Feast of Tabernacles was a week long celebration which commemorated the wandering of God's people in the wilderness after they fled captivity in Egypt.  In the days of the wilderness, they lived in tents or tabernacles and didn’t have any permanent dwellings.  The Feast of Tabernacles was the greatest of all the Jewish holidays.  The people would build tents from all sorts of branches as instructed in Leviticus 23: 40 and live in them for seven days.  It was like a national camp-out and family reunion!  According to historians, there were daily rituals that accompanied this celebration. During one particular daily event the people would gather all kinds of branches and create a covering for the altar that stood in the courtyard of the temple.  With hundreds of people gathered around the altar the priest would take a golden pitcher and go to the pool of Siloam and fill it with water.  He would then return through what was called the water gate and pour the water onto the alter.  The people would recite Isaiah 12: 3 saying, “With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.”  This was done to remember how God poured water out of a rock to save people who were thirsting to death in the wilderness at Meribah.  On the last day of the Feast of the Tabernacles, Jesus stood in the midst of the Jews, who witnessed the ceremony done by the priest.  Jesus knew why they were there.  It wasn't just to commemorate the days in the wilderness.  They were concerned about their future – they wanted to make sure that God would give them the provision of water for the next harvest.  Jesus had so much more to offer them and all the nations of the world to follow in generations to come.  Therefore Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink.”  Can you think of another incident when Jesus made a similar invitation?  It was at the well of Jacob, when He had a conversation with someone the Jews would not have approved of.  It was the Samaritan woman Jesus offered the overflowing life. My dear friends, what is the spiritual depth of our lives?  Are we perhaps like leaking faucets?  That there is just enough coming from our lives that we are able to say, “Well at least I’m doing something for God.”  Or are we like a narrow stream of water in a dry land?  It’s only a matter of time and it will dry up.  Are we the gushing streams of water God wants us to be?  In other words are we living The Abundant Life?

There are two conditions we have to follow if we truly want to experience The Abundant Life.  The first is 2 Come To Jesus.  We have to live with a need for Christ in our lives.  As much as we may think, “Jesus gave me the water to quench my thirst a long time ago”, we always have to return to Him.  We have to thirst for His righteousness.  We have to come to Jesus’ fountain to be equipped. But let's think about a perception, no it's more like a lie so many people lived from the beginning of time and thousands are living this lie today.  It's to think – “I don’t need to go to God.”

Jacob, when he moved away from his people and found himself in the company of foreign people, became so popular that his need for God faded away.  It was something like “Jacob for Prime President” in his life.

David with his success as king became so concerned about his role in the world community of his time that he didn’t go back to God for spiritual guidance. The Prodigal son at the time of his departure didn’t have any intentions of returning to his father.  He went to a foreign land to be as far as possible away from home. We all know how Jacob returned to Bethel because of his spiritual thirst and David tore his heart open before God to be able to drink from the fountain of God’s presence and how the Prodigal son came to his senses and cried out, “I will go back to my father.”  His hunger and thirst was more spiritual than physical. Do you have the same desire as the psalmist who cried out, “My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.  When can I go and meet with God?”  Psalm 42: 2.  Yes, each time when we come to worship it’s because of our need for God, each time when we attend a Bible study it’s because we have a need to drink from the fountain of His word.  Each time when we approach the throne of God, it is to acknowledge, “I can’t live life without God blessing me.”  When I ministered in Fort St. John there was a knock at the door.  It was a young native man who greeted me.  He told me that he was raised by a former minister of that church and that he just had to return to the place where he first heard about Jesus.  It was like he returned to the fountain of Jesus on that day.

The second condition we have to follow if we want to live The Abundant Life is to Accept What Jesus Offers.  Jesus told the people on the last day of the Feast, “Come to me and drink.”  You will agree with me that you can’t drink any kind of water.  Thousands of people around the world die every year of contaminated water and some are left with incurable diseases.  What Jesus really wants to say is, “It’s only the water I offer that can satisfy.”  He has provided everything we need for life and godliness, according to 2 Peter 1:3.  We don't have to live an inadequate existence in spiritual poverty and depression.  The limitless water supply Jesus offers is always available to us.  But we have to drink.  We have to come to the Lord in our thirst and desperation and open our souls to Him and receive.  There is a legend of a tribe that lived in a valley with a river which provided to all of their needs.  The level of the river went drastically down after a few seasons of drought.  A few young men went on an excursion over the mountains and came back with the wonderful news that they saw a wider valley with a larger river.  The tribe council, which was called “Old men who know” met and decided that there could be no other river.  So, the tribe stayed and when the majority of people already died the chief gave order that they move.  At their new location they flourished.  This story reminds us so much what Jesus offers to the world, but He is rejected.  Too many people don't accept His invitation that comes through missionaries, pastors and others who witness for Jesus.  God has divinely provided life in Christ – not just an eternal home in heaven, but life, a flow of spiritual reality and relationship with Him that meets every need we have.   All we have to do is to want it –  want it bad enough to come to Jesus for it and receive it as a gift from Him. “If anyone is thirsty let him come to me and drink.”  Will you come to Him and drink again this morning?  Will you come to Him every day to be satisfied?  Then you will be a Flowing River in His service.  Then you will always live The Abundant Life.