29 May 2011 Sunday
38 Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.”
Good Morning brothers and sisters, please join me in prayer: Dear Lord, our Redeemer, may the mercy, love and wisdom of God fall down from heaven like the living water into our thirsty hearts, please guide us, purify us. May the heart and word from my mouth today are all from you, and that we can all glorify you, in Jesus Christ name we pray, Amen!
I have come from Nanjing, the southern part of China where the weather supposed to be wet. I think many of you if you come from the South, the first thing you may feel the weather is so dry. Beijing is a very dry place, and nowadays even the southern part of China, even Nanjing now is supposed to be in rainy season, but no rain (here in Beijing). The drought has been very serious, the farmers all need water and rain, so that they can have good harvest in time. And like us, we all need the living water to live on, today we are going to talk something about the Living Water.
1. Who is Jesus?
We have been following the book of John. On last Sunday, Stephen has talked on Chapter 6, and he gave us a good summary of that chapter, and focused on “Jesus as the Living Bread”. Now we move on to Chapter 7. I think Chapter 7 is mainly focused on “who Jesus is”,
w A good man (v. 10)
w A prophet (v. 40), because he teaches people and uses scriptures, he knows everything.
w The Christ (v. 26 & v.41)
People were arguing about “who Jesus is”. And actually it is also a question for many people here, some are not sure which god to believe in, to the concept of God or Gods. For instance, some of my friends ask me: “Why Jesus? I can believe in other gods – just a super power. But why Jesus? Why does Jesus matter to us? Why do I need to believe in Jesus?” I hope today the reflections can help you to know why Jesus matters.
In the end of Chapter 6, we see the tension grew when Jesus did miracles and gave teachings. When Jesus said “unless you eat my body and drink my blood, you can never be saved”, for many people, it’s too radical, so weird, so many people who followed Jesus all the way left Him, following Him before because he had done some miracles; and now on hearing those radical sayings about “eating my body and drinking my blood”, they left Him, only the twelve disciples stayed with Him.
At the beginning of Chapter 7, the tensions are still there, even Jesus’ brothers didn’t believe in Him. Thinking of that, even the one who knows you most, can’t understand you. That would be painful to us.
2. Structure of John 7
A very brief structure.
1) Background: 7: 1-13
2) Action: 7: 14 to teach at the temple
- 7: 15-36 Who is Jesus?
- 7: 15-24 Authority to heal on Sabbath
- 7: 25-31 Christ by the signs
- 7: 32-36 Death of Jesus
4) Action: 7: 37-39 To proclaim his identity
5) Dialogue: 7: 40-52 Disputes among themselves concerning the claim of Jesus to be the Messiah descended from David.
We conclude in many chapters, you can find the similar structure that Jesus will do an action and then have some dialogues, then action, then dialogues. And these actions always followed by dialogues. If you see the structures like these, you can focus the main concept and ideas in the dialogues.
3. Feast of Tabernacle
Chapter 7:37-38. Jesus claimed : “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” Chapter 7 is about a Feast of Tabernacle, a very important Feast, festival for the Jews.
This feast is a festival related with Water, actually every morning of the 7 days, people will following the priest to a place the pool of Siloam in Jerusalem (the place will appear in chapter 9.) to fetch the water and the come back to the temple and pour the water into the pot on both sides of the altar. So it is a festival and Jewish celebration of the polling of the water. People had this polling of water every day, celebrating. And when they poll the water into the pot, the choir of the temple will sing the song 113 - 118 as “thanksgiving” and “hallelujah” to praise God.
4. The Living Water
The verse said, on the 8th day or the last day, the greatest day, it is the solemn rest day, the Sabbath, no pouring of water and people are quietly meditating in the temple, at this moment, Jesus speak in loud voice about these words. The prophet Isaiah talked about the living water, or the water of life, and Jesus is clearly claimed that “I am the living water, if you come to me, and you are not going to get thirsty again.”
In John 4, if you remember, when Jesus met the Samaritan women, He also mentioned about “the living water”. There Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you the living water.” In John 4:13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again,” in John 4:14 “but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
There Jesus just spoke in private, but here Jesus was speaking loudly in public. He is challenging them.
5. What does Jesus mean of the Living Water?
By saying “I am the living water”, What does Jesus mean when he said he is the living water? or he is going to give you the living water. And if you want to speak to others about the living water, how are you going to explain? Everybody may has his or her own ways of explanation. And I am going to share with you what I have reflected about the living water.
6. The Living Water is Low and Humble
Jesus talked in the temple, in this dialogue, Jesus said, “do not judge according to appearance. Do not judge, you never believe me because you judge me according to my appearance. ” We like to judge others, but think of Jesus, when He met the Samaritan women, a women who went out to pick up water in the hottest hour of the day, the one who had married five husbands and now living with the sixth who is not going to marry her. Jesus knew her, actually for women in that ancient time, if they didn’t have a husband, it’s pitiful, Jesus saw the misery of this woman. Jesus cared about her instead of judging her. Jesus patiently talked with her and gave her the living water through the dialogues and enlightened her spiritual life.
7. The Living Water is Running and not Static
The Living Water is always running, it is not static. It is not still. What I mean is that we believe in Jesus Christ and we receive the grapes, and we receive the living water pouring into our hearts. If we don’t let the living water run, it is going to be rotten. It is going to disappear.
How to let the living water run? You need to pass it on, you need to serve. Remember Jesus says “The Son of Man is sending to serve instead of to be served”. There is one church in one country, a big church, the Sunday sermon mainly focuses on the nonbelievers and new church comers, so the Sunday sermon is quite shallow to many long time mature Christians. Many people think they come to the church to the sermon, and they want to find spiritual help, and they think it is too shallow. They can’t get anything o grow, so they complain among themselves. But the church said, “our main focus is to the nonbelievers, we try to make them understand us. If you want you spiritual grows, you have to serve, - Join the small ministries, join the small groups, and study with them by serving and studying with groups, your spirituality will grow. ”
When we come to churches, not only ask for what I can get from the church, but always ask what you can give to the church. I know many people come to the church, and actually they are eager to serve. And we are lack of pastors and preachers, and many of you are not able to be attended and cared enough for. And please if you find there is no place for you to serve, you create one; and you need to keep asking “how can I serve? I want to serve. ” It is only through serving, you find your commitment to the church and to this united fellowship, to this community. And then the living water will run in your heart and coming out from you, from within your heart endlessly.
8. The Living Water is Formless and Challenging
The third part of Living Water is that it is formless. Think of water, the change according to the situation, you can’t shape them unless you frozen them, there are many ways, and for Christians, we always try to fix God into a small box, we like to describe God with our limited language on what we believe God is about, argue about you need to share my experience that what I believe is the right one and the only one. So that is dangeous that we fix God into a small box because each of us is limited and we can only see from our limited experience and our limited vision.
Actually we need to think a little wild, to share with others’ testimonies. This formless is very important feature of Christianity, this is the core of feature of Christianity. That will always challenge itself when the church goes wrong. I will challenge the church, are you with the poor? Are you with the needy? Are you with the hopeless ones? So there are many changes in histories, you see we have many changes because church is being challenged by the true faith.
Religion doesn’t mean our faith, religion is different from faith. What you believe is the Gospel, is the Good News. So do not fix God or put God into a small box. For instance, like Paul, when he talked to the Jews he became a Jew to win the Jews. I have became to all things of all man so that all possible things I might have saved some. I do all his for the Gospel. And I share in his blessings, we need to be humble and not limit God with our own limited vision.
Today we have shared about John 7, about the identify of Jesus Christ. The book of John recalled their church at that time the living reality they were facing everyday. They were facing great challenges from their fork members. They were in very great pain, but they knew they have met and conquered the Jews. In Chapter 7 we see the tensions about how Jesus said and how people described Jesus was. Jesus said He is the Living Water that will bring you the eternal life. We seek the eternal life and we want the eternal life. This living water is always blessing everything. Do not judge, this living water is running, always serving others not just receiving. And this living water is formless and changing and always challenging you. And also think of this, the Jews talked about how could Christ come from Galilee, that’s their understanding, they are confined by their traditions because they couldn’t believe Galilee was just too small place where Christ would not come from there.
May our God inspire you and bless you with all His sayings, let us always walk in His way. Amen!
Summary by Katherine
Edited by Claire
Resources for Download :
|Sermon by Cathy Zhang
|Worship Song: How Great Is Our God
|Worship Song: You Are Holy (Prince Of Peace)
|Worship Song: My Savior, My God
|Worship Song: There Is None Like You
|Worship Song: My Jesus, I Love Thee
(by worship team from Beaverton Foursquare Church, in Oregon, US)
|Worship Song: Lord I give you my heart
(by worship team from Beaverton Foursquare Church, in Oregon, US)
My Jesus, I Love Thee
My Jesus, I love Thee I know Thou art mine,
For Thee all the follies Of sin I resign;
My gracious Redeemer, My Savior art Thou;
If ever I loved Thee, My Jesus, ‘tis now.
I love Thee Because Thou hast first loved me,
And purchased my pardon On Calvary's tree;
I love Thee for wearing the thorns on Thy brow;
If ever I loved Thee, my Jesus, ‘tis now!
In mansions of glory And endless delight,
I’ll ever adore Thee In heaven so bright;
I’ll sing with the glittering Crown on my brow,
If ever I loved Thee, My Jesus, ‘tis now!
Note: in Old English, Thou, Thee = you, art = be, 'tis = it is.