Here again today we see that people are divided over who Jesus is. Some dismiss his claim to be sent from heaven on the basis of the knowledge they have of him – knowledge which Jesus, with a gentle touch of irony, labels as superficial…others seem genuinely confused – ‘how can the Christ come from Galilee?’
Today also people are often divided and confused about who Jesus is, sometimes because he doesn’t fit into their neat preconceived ideas of who God is, or should be; sometimes because they don’t want to think too hard about him or examine the evidence behind his claim to come from God and indeed to be God, in case they are required to change their behaviour or habits. It is the key question of John’s gospel and a key question for today.
Jesus has been very clear about his origin in these past few chapters – sent from God, by God, with God’s approval, able to call God ‘my Father’ (6:40) – he will go on shortly to say ‘I and the Father are one.’ (10:30).These words cannot be passed over casually – Jesus wants to be taken seriously here.
Maybe when we are in a conversation with others about God and Jesus, this is perhaps the question we should gently put into the equation :’ Who do you think Jesus is?’ Because people don’t think clearly or logically about this question, they have really already made a decision without realising it, by holding the opinion they have. To use an oldish way of putting it, Jesus has to be mad, or bad, or God! Either he was delusional, (which he clearly wasn’t in view of the wonderful Sermon on the Mount teaching he gave, which is acclaimed even by ardent atheists); or he was bad- ie a liar (in which case what he said was untrue and his whole character is suspect – very few people will want to go there, as he is demonstrably an example of goodness itself!); the only other logical alternative to consider is that he was who he claimed to be – God come in human form. A decision has to be made!
Maybe we need to be praying for a right time when we can initiate a conversation along these lines?
As far as Jesus is concerned, the Jewish leaders have already made their decision about him – he tells them ‘You will look for me but you will not find me – and where I am you cannot come’ (7:34).That is the sad end result for those who are not prepared to consider thoroughly the claims of Jesus, and who ‘remain deliberately ignorant’ (2Pet 3:5)
But for those who were aware of an emptiness and thirst in their lives, Jesus gives here an open invitation – ‘if anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink’ – with the promise of an unending supply of inner satisfaction from the Holy Spirit – I think Jesus must have been meditating on Isaiah 55 for a while….cf John 6:27 / 7:37 with Is 55:1-2, 6-7. Perhaps his heart was yearning for his own people, the Jews, to ‘seek the Lord while he may be found; let him turn to the Lord and he will have mercy upon him, and to our God, for he will freely pardon.’
At any rate, these are wonderful words for anyone to hear and to accept, and they certainly challenged Jesus’ listeners at the end of our passage to think about who Jesus was.
For ourselves, we too need these ‘streams of living water’ to flow from within us, both for our own need to ‘drink’ regularly , but also so that they may become streams of blessing flowing from us to have spiritual effects on others.
Let’s pray that we shall know in our own lives such a complete satisfying of our every need in Jesus that there may also be an overflow of the Spirit to others around us.