Timing is everything.
This could apply to any number of scenarios but it’s certainly true for public speaking. One of the things that I enjoy doing is listening to and watching comedians. This is not just because I enjoy a good laugh, but I also really enjoy watching how a comedian works the craft. Setting up a joke, delivering the punchline, establishing a premise, and structuring the set, it’s all something I enjoy thinking through. And while this practice has not made me any funnier, it has been good practice for growing as a communicator.
The thing with a good joke, is the timing has to be right. The last few years my kids have gotten in to jokes and so its fun to listen to them tell jokes and even try to create them. One joke that my now 7-year-old brought home from school went just like this: “Dad, do you know how to catch a squirrel? No, tell me. You climb a tree and act like an acorn!” After thinking about it for a moment I asked, “do you mean climb a tree and act like a nut?” Yes, that’s what I said, nut/acorn, same thing!
We’re still working on the timing but I actually think that’s the funniest way that joke could have played out!
Today we’re going to see Jesus utilizing timing in a masterful way! Open your Bibles to John chapter 7.
We’ll work our way through this passage, asking God to speak to us and make it come alive for us today. This first section is all about the invitation, and we’ll see three elements of the invitation.
On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. John 7:37
The first section we’re going to look at will give us a robust look at the invitation starting with the context. From the first part of verse 37, we learn it’s the Feast of Tabernacles.
This was a very significant event. Sometimes it was called the festival of booths or shelters because the people would go out and as a living lesson they would construct temporary shelters as a part of the ceremony. This celebration was a reminder of the Old Testament Wilderness Wandering Period. More-so it was a time to focus on provision and hope. By looking to the past, the people were reminded of how God faithfully provided and in this way the people were encouraged with hope for the future.
The last day of the feast would be the seventh day, a very special day on which the priests would march seven times around the altar, chanting Psalm 118:25. It would be the last time they would ceremonially draw out water and pour it out. Jesus’ timing here could not have been better! As their minds were on water, this picture of sustenance and provision and it was at this moment that Jesus stands, and no doubt just as they were pouring out the water, symbolic of the water Moses drew from the rock, Jesus shouts His great invitation to thirsty sinners.
And understanding this context gives the invitation even more meaning. Because they’re looking for something to fill them and Jesus says, I’ve got the answer.
On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” John 7:37-38
What Jesus is doing here, with perfect timing, is highlighting for the people their greatest need!
Are you thirsty today? Are you looking for true and living water? If you recognize that need, there is a great invitation on the table for you! Today, no matter who you are, if you know you’re thirsty, you are invited to come!
Notice he says, “Let Anyone” and “Whoever believes” – I love the all-encompassing emphasis here!
What’s important here isn’t who you are and where you’ve been, but rather do you see that you need Him!
That is one of the most difficult things about ministering here in the Lake Area! We’ve got a great deal of people who don’t realize their need for God.
If you’re wondering if this is a particular temptation for you, I’ve put together a test you can use.
Test: “If I could just _________________, then I’d be happy.”
If this right here dominates your thoughts and your dreams, and your time, then you might be looking for something that’s only found in Jesus. And the truth is, until you stop trying to fill in that blank with things the world offers, you’ll never come. You’ll just remain thirsty.
If you’re holding on to hope the the next ‘whatever’ is going to be what you need, you’ll never respond to this amazing invitation. Yes, here in the Lake Area there are difficulties, and there is poverty, and there is brokenness and hardship, but, we are a blessed people! And for the most part a people of great affluence, who tragically don’t see that our greatest need cannot be met by anything in the created world.
We see this all through the scriptures too. If you’re working through your 27in22 reading plan, then you’ll remember a week or so ago when we read John 4. In that story, Jesus meets a lady who has had 5 husbands and is living with another man. And his words to her are strikingly similar to the words here. He says ‘I can give you living water!’
Verse 38 helps us to see the drinking immediately identified as believing.
I am fearful that our western and American way of thinking has reduced belief down into just agreement. Make no mistake, to believe means more. In fact ‘to believe’ means: to cling to… rely fully upon… & trust completely. It’s not just a mental exercise. Belief includes accepting the message of the Gospel, receiving the person of Jesus, AND responding with a lifetime of obedience!
And when we believe, the result is the living water he provides. Come to Jesus. Drink. Believe. Live.
We forget, (or maybe we never truly understood), but all too often we lose sight of what it truly means and looks like to have living water inside of us! Living Water is a source. It means it never runs out! And when I’m connected to the source, then I am empowered to love genuinely, give excessively, live sacrificially, all because there is no fear of running out! And when you have no fear of running out, you live differently!
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.Psalm 23:5 (NIV)
The invitation of Jesus is for the Spirit to flow from Jesus into the people. If we believe in Jesus, the Holy Spirit indwells us. If the Holy Spirit indwells us, we have everything we need for life and godliness. But when Jesus spoke these words there was a caveat, a not yet clause, you see that’s the essence of the next section. Look with me at verse 39.
By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.John 7:39
So we have the context, the content, and now there is an additional concept to be considered, and that's the promise of power.
What we have here is an editorial comment by the author, explaining to us a particular reality. This is not to mean that the Spirit didn’t exist, or that Jesus didn’t have access to the Spirit, or that people did not encounter the Spirit of God. Instead, it means that there is coming a day when the Spirit of God will be fully poured out and realized.
Well, when did that happen? Glad you asked, the scripture tells us that the cross came first, then the power. It was only after the cross of Calvary that the Spirit of God came and took up residence in the disciples at Pentecost. The amazing part is that we now have the opportunity because of Jesus to be saved, and filled!
Saved from sin and saved for God! Today, if you are a follower of Jesus, having repented of Sin and enthroned Jesus as savior and king, then you have the Spirit of God!
Unfortunately, so often we fail to realize this and to live accordingly!
On hearing his words, some of the people said, “Surely this man is the Prophet.” Others said, “He is the Messiah.” Still others asked, “How can the Messiah come from Galilee? Does not Scripture say that the Messiah will come from David’s descendants and from Bethlehem, the town where David lived?” Thus the people were divided because of Jesus. Some wanted to seize him, but no one laid a hand on him.John 7:40-44
The first aspect of the reaction that I want you to see is that of the Crowd.
They were divided and the same is true today. Here in Lake Charles, people are divided. Now you may say, I think for the most part everyone has a favorable view of Jesus, even if that is true there is still much division. Because there are those who are radically devoted to Jesus as their Savior and King, and there people who acknowledge Jesus as a good teacher, a moral leader, or an agent of social change. And across America today those two groups will be attending church together. These two groups are not the same! And i’m not trying to be insulting but I am trying to wake us up!
There will always be those who are completely sold out to Jesus, and those who want to politely tip their hat toward Jesus. Outwardly these people are religious but inwardly they have not been changed!
Then there are those who are in direct opposition to Jesus. They want nothing to do with him and deny him with their words and actions. Have you ever seen someone get angry with you when you try to talk to them about Jesus? That’s happened to me.
The crowds were divided and that division remains today.
Another reaction I want you to see comes from the guards. This is what the Word of God says:
Finally the temple guards went back to the chief priests and the Pharisees, who asked them, “Why didn’t you bring him in?” “No one ever spoke the way this man does,” the guards replied.John 7:45-46
Now, to us that may seem a bit out of left field. What are they talking about? Well let’s examine the context. What we must do is go back up to John 7:32 “The Pharisees heard the crowd whispering such things about him. Then the chief priests and the Pharisees sent temple guards to arrest him.”
And so everything that we’ve read between these verses the guards have been present for. And something happens. Although they’ve been sent to arrest Jesus, their minds and hearts get arrested by him. The guards were amazed.
Now this was probably still stopping short, but it is a step in the right direction. While they were not ready to bow to Jesus, their were acknowledging that there is something unique about him!
› I believe many of you are right here! You’ve been coming, you’ve been seeing what God has been doing, you’ve been captivated by the stories of life change, the testimonies of baptism, and the hope that you find within the lives of God’s people! And it all is very amazing to you! Isn’t God good? YES, he is, so what are you waiting for? Why are you still on the fence? Why have you not given your life to Jesus? Why have you not gone public with baptism, why have you not prioritized gathering, giving, and going?
› We said earlier that timing is everything. I believe the time for obedience is now!
Notice the word “finally,” this makes me think that they were dragging their feet, knowing they weren’t going to obey the orders, and they might have been reluctant to go tell the rulers.
And I want you to see something because they were amazed, they were ridiculed. Look at what the Word of God says…
You mean he has deceived you also?” the Pharisees retorted.
“Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed in him?
No! But this mob that knows nothing of the law—there is a curse on them. John 7:47-49
You need to be ready for this because I promise when you start to get serious about Jesus, there will be people who will start to ridicule you.
How could you really think that the death of Jewish Carpenter 2000 years ago has any meaning for my life and eternity? Well, we believe that Jewish Carpenter was the Son of God, we believe his death was a sacrificial and substitutionary death for our sins! And after being crucified he rose again, forever defeating death and demonstrating his true identity so that every person who will believe in him, He’ll SAVE!
And for centuries people have been ridiculing Christians for our beliefs. This is why Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 1:18 “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”
Guys, don’t close off your mind today! This is a real temptation for us! For these Jewish leaders the real tragedy is found in the reality that they were the ones who were supposed to be the authority on knowing God, and they completely missed him as he stood before them!
For the religious leaders of the day, their inability to see Jesus, their closed-mindedness, they were striving to be right with God through their own efforts. This is called self-righteousness.
Any time you and I come to worship, or Bible Study, having already made up our minds about what we believe, and therefore we fail to listen to God’s Word, we practice the Way of the Pharisees. We open God’s Word, so that it would speak to us, so that we would be confronted and changed, the way of Christ is the way of transformation, and the more we submit ourselves to God’s Word the more we’ll be conformed to HIS likeness!
Praise God that if you are a Christ-Follower, then God looks at you and sees ‘forgiven and saved’. But make no mistake, if you’re a follower of Jesus there are still things in your life that God was to confront you about. This is called sanctification. Maybe it’s ways of thinking, habits of living, or things we’ve picked up from society around us, The point is, we must be open to God changing and challenging us!
The last section is about Nicodemus. Nicodemus, who had gone to Jesus earlier and who was one of their own number, asked,
“Does our law condemn a man without first hearing him to find out what he has been doing?”John 7:50-51
Last week I had the great privilege of preaching in the Central Venue. I am always grateful for those opportunities, but I do hope you know that when I’m not in here with you, I miss you. I really do.
Last week in here you hear David recognize the graduating seniors and he preached a message from John 5. Well, in the Central we looked at John 3. Both are excellent passages, and both come from the 27in22 readings. If you missed either message, their both online for you to check out. But I tell you that because John 3, is all about Nicodemus. We looked at the conversation between Nicodemus and Jesus, at night, where Jesus explains that he needed to be Born Again. It’s this passage where we find John 3:16, the most well known verse in all of scripture.
In studying the last two weeks it’s been a real blessing for me to see the progression of Nicodemus. In chapter 3, we see Nicodemus investigating. He recognizes something is special about Jesus. Then in our passage, John 7, we see Nicodemus stepping up and challenging the Jewish Leaders. The third episode in the tale of Nicodemus come from John 19 where it says:
Later, Joseph of Arimathea asked Pilate for the body of Jesus. Now Joseph was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly because he feared the Jewish leaders. With Pilate’s permission, he came and took the body away. He was accompanied by Nicodemus, the man who earlier had visited Jesus at night. Nicodemus brought a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about seventy-five pounds. For this reason we’ve noted the reaction of Nicodemus as believing,John 19:38-39
I love the progression and the fact that we get to see how grew in faith, so much he is willing here in chapter 7 to stand up against the rest of the rulers in calling for fairness and openness, and progressing even further so that by the time we get to chapter 19, he’s willing to publicly identify himself with some considered to be a criminal. More-so, he bring expensive spices for the burial, showing us that whether its status or possessions, he doesn’t care what it costs to follow Jesus, he’s in!
Are you thirsty today? If you’re thirsty, then you come!
-I’m sure that in a room this size we’ve got several people who are divided on Jesus. If that's you, okay. But if you’re thirsty, then come!
-I’m sure there are some in here to whose reaction is just like the guards. You’re growing very excited and would even say that Jesus seems amazing. Good. Don’t stop there! If you’re thirsty, you can come!
-If you’re here and you’re skeptical about all this, okay. You can come if you’re thirsty. Even if you know you’ve been closed-minded and unwilling to listen to Jesus, it’s not too late, If you’re thirsty, you can come!
Timing is everything. And today, amidst whatever trial you’re going through, whatever hardship you’re facing, no matter the nature of the storm you’re going through, Jesus’ invitation to you is the same as it was on that day, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.”
That can be you today! What are you waiting for?
Anyone who is this thirsty, Come to Jesus!
Most people’s idea of judgment is since God is love, God will let me get by with my sin. God will let me slide. But that’s absolutely wrong and it’s the Holy Spirit that shows you it’s wrong.
All other religions in the world are based on you making and keeping promises to the “gods” in hopes of earning love and acceptance. The one true God, however, because of his great love, has promised to save us based on his faithfulness.