by Rev Jason Phua
Readings: John 7:31-53; Psalm 17:1-15
READ (verse/s chosen for meditation)
John 7:38-39 Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.”
It seems strange that in verse 38, Jesus said “as the Scripture has said…” For I can find no Old Testament verse that said: “out of his heart will flow rivers of living water”. Nevertheless, it is likely that Jesus was not quoting a specific saying from the Old Testament, but an Old Testament imagery of what salvation is about. For example, Isaiah 12:2-3 said “Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the LORD GOD is my strength and my song, and he has become my salvation. With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.” Hence, the imagery of salvation as a form of “living water” is present in the Old Testament. When it comes to the New Testament, Jesus clarified that “living water” is the Holy Spirit given to those who believes.
How is leading a Spirit-led life like having our heart flow rivers of living water? In the context of the Bible, the role of the Holy Spirit is to (1) teach us all things in relation to how we can grow in our relationship with God (2) comfort, strengthen, nourish and empower us to overcome sin and grow in holiness (3) intercede for us when we are weak. In other words, when we believe in Jesus, the Holy Spirit is given to quench our spiritual thirst and help us grow in Him.
Such Spirit-filled living is conditional upon our “believe” in the active tense. This means that the living water will only keep flowing if we “keep believing”. “Keep believing” has to do with having a faithful and growing relationship with our Father in heaven. This is clearly expressed in the Gospel of John as the persistent cultivation of authentic faith in God.
Personally, I have found the reality of “keep believing” a deep challenge; especially when tragedies struck and disappointments set in. Yet, the beauty and wisdom of being in God, is that the living water within me did not just leave me in the lurch. The Holy Spirit is always refreshing my soul and urging me to be encouraged and rely on the Father’s strength. Such I guess, reflects what John Wesley said in a prayer:
“In using all means, seek God alone. In and through every outward thing, look only to the power of His Spirit, and the merits of His Son. Beware you do not get stuck in the work itself, if you do, it is all lost labour. Nothing short of God can satisfy your soul. Therefore fix on Him in all, through all, and above all…” Amen.