Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Jesus is the Christ - The Promise That We Will Never Thirst

All the Promises are Yes and Amen in Christ
Jesus the Christ Promises that His disciples will Never Thirst

We have so far established that the Gospel is the proclamation that “Jesus is the Christ”. Next, we need to understand the extent of the change we can expect as a result this new reality that Jesus is the Christ, the Lord of heaven and earth. Life as human beings know it and as we experience life has changed profoundly. In this section, I intend to elaborate upon the scope of this new life we can experience. Looking at human existence and at the 21st Century church, we might think that certainly not every thing has changed. Life is certainly not “heaven on earth” for every Christian. Also, many preachers in the church take advantage of people by promising blessings from the Gospel that are not actually promised. Nonetheless, my aim is to show that at the most important aspect of human experience a great change has taken place which effects our experience of life quite profoundly and to such a positive extent that our testimony will be that we have found the key to life and happiness. So let’s look at what aspect of human experience that has changed now that Jesus is the Christ and that he is Lord of both heaven and earth.

An overview of the Promises that Jesus makes to those who place their faith in Him
To understand the transformation of life which Jesus brings it makes sense to look first at the promises Jesus Himself made to those who place their faith in Him as the Christ.

Let’s begin with an over view of the gospel of John.
In John 4, Jesus, speaking to a Samaritan woman says,
“If you knew the gift of God and who it is who says to you ‘give Me a drink’, you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water…whoever drinks of the water that I give him will never thirst”.

Picking up the metaphor of water in chapter 7, Jesus says,
“If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the scriptures said, ‘from his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water.”

John the author explains in the next verse saying,
“This He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive”.

Here Jesus is bolding making Messianic claims by saying that the promises of a time of refreshing and restoration had arrived in Himself and that the promise of a river of living water would come to all who put their faith in Him as the Christ. So what does this promise of “never thirsting” and having from our innermost being flowing a river of living water.

First, what does it mean that whoever drinks of the water that I give him will never thirst.
First, this promise is a reference to the believer’s experience. To thirst and to have that thirst quenched with spring water is the analogy Jesus uses to describe the blessings that He brings to those who believe in Him. Consider a man lost and without water for a day or two. He hears from a fellow traveler that there is a spring about five miles due west. The man points the way to the spring. The direction is clear and the man gives a few land marks to follow. Our thirsty man starts in this direction. He goes over the hill and sees in the distance a pool of water. He begins to pick up his pace and begins to feel hopeful. With the water about twenty feet in front of him, he smiles in relief. Everything is going to be alright. He sits at the pool of water and begins to drink. He can feel the satisfaction of his body. He splashes his face. He rests and spends a few hours drinking deeply. This is a picture of the Christian life. Christianity is not about hoping to one day drink but Jesus says He will send His spirit and we will actually drink to our satisfaction and this experience of satisfaction will flow from us and satisfy others. We not only will drink from the well of blessing that Christ brings to us but we will be a source of this blessing to others.

Often Christianity is seen as a journey to heaven or a life of hope but in Jesus’ promise Christianity is not a life of hope or a life of hoping to one day drink the living water but is a life of actual drinking. Jesus gives us water and we drink it. This point is essential to understand. The experience of faith is not the experience of hope that helps one endure. This would be to describe the Spirit like a map directing one on a journey to water and life as the journey, but this is not the metaphor Jesus gives. Jesus says that we will actually drink the water. The promise of Jesus the Christ is that whoever is thirsty “let him come to me AND DRINK”. The life of the disciple is not essentially one of being inspired and encouraged to continue in the journey but to regularly arrive at an experience of drinking. This speaks of a spiritual experience of actual conscious connection with the Spirit of God which results in satisfaction and restoration.

The analogy of the man in the desert actually can be contrasted with the Christian walk in that the desert traveler’s level of desperation is not experienced by the disciple of Jesus as shown by the saying “never thirst”. The disciple is never so distant from the Spirit as to have his dryness be described as thirst. Personally, I do not know if in the physical sense I have ever actually experienced thirst. I have certainly had an experience where I desired to be satisfied by water but never in a situation where I was desperate for water. I have all my life lived in a home or was near running water. All I have ever had to do was to make a short walk and I could satisfy my thirst. Never have I been in a situation where I was at a loss as to where I could get water to satisfy my thirst. So too with the disciple, who has learned how to follow Jesus or as we shall see learned how to follow the teachings of Jesus. The disciple is a person who has learned how to get to and how to drink spiritually.

To explain this essential point I must jump ahead a little. In the next section, I will discuss mankind’s true problem as a lack of ability to live beautifully and morally. The root of this inability is a lack of conscious contact with our Father in heaven. Our emotional make-up “under the sun”, in a state of separation from conscious awareness of God according to the truth, is to lack what it takes emotionally and psychologically to love in every circumstance. The difference between the disciple and natural person is how we respond to conflict. The disciple who has deep in his or her emotional make-up an awareness of God’s love has the power to turn the other cheek and forgive and love his enemy from the heart. The power to live beautifully and morally and filled with unconditional love is conscious experience of God in the moment of conflict.

For example, I met just the other day a man who drank himself to sleep every night. He was filled with self-loathing that he could not drive from his consciousness without the aid of serious self-medication. This man is experiencing desperate thirst. He is filled with 10,000 various forms of fear and anger. His need is discipleship. Discipleship is the process where through obedience to the spiritual ways of Jesus our perspective on life becomes immersed in the presence of the grace and love of God. This new awareness of God empowers us to live a life satisfied by God alone, and, having learned this way, we are equipped to give to others a cup of water to quench their thirst.

This ability to satisfy one’s spiritual need like a person drinking water is not an ability all Christians possess. This ability is the outcome of the process of discipleship. Many Christians who have never been discipled are as spiritually dissatisfied and live lives just as dysfunctional as anyone. More on this later.

So this first saying of Jesus reveals that Jesus promised us that we would experience a life of satisfaction which He calls “never thirsting”. This is a promise which few have faith to believe but the fact is Jesus said it and to believe in Jesus is to believe Jesus. If we remain thirsting then the problem is a lack of understanding of the dicipleship process in our life. We lack the training on how to go about the process of drinking. The answer is not to lessen the promise but to acept the challenge to become a student of Jesus and enter into the promises of the Christ.

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