This is a radical move. You can be assured there were thousands in Jerusalem at the time of the Passover, but no one answered Jesus’ appeal to “come to me” (John 7:37). That was part of Jesus’ whole life and ministry. At the beginning of John’s Gospel, he testifies that Jesus came into the world that He made, “yet the world did not know Him. He came to His own [the Jewish people], and His own people did not receive Him” (1:10-11). Other forms of rejection can be found in chapters 1 to 7. Most notable is in chapter 6:53ff; “unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in you.” This radical requirement caused some disciples to stop following Jesus. It was too hard for them to leave the old source of food.
Coming back to our central verses in John 7:37-39, Jesus gave a requirement in His call that no one was willing to accept. “Whoever believes in me” was the one thing they need to do. The word Jesus uses for “believe” is more than agreeing that something is true; “pisteuo” means “to believe to the extent of complete trust and reliance, to have confidence and faith” in the person of Jesus and His words.
The combination of being thirsty in the soul and believing completely with trust and confidence in Jesus requires a radical move away from any form of self reliance or hint of substituting Him with something else.
I challenge you to get alone with the Lord, with His Word, with a pen and note pad and honestly write down all the things you are trusting to be a Christian. Would that list include your education, tithing, work in ministry, anything physical (buildings, money, organizations or denominations, leadership structure, etc.). Any of these things will weaken your thirst for Jesus and trust in Him if they are not brought totally under His control.
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