A. W. Tozer said that there ought to be a beautiful paradox in Jesus’ followers. We ought to be joyful that the Lord has found us and blessed us. And at the same time we ought to continue pursuing Him. We are to be glad that we have God on our side, yet always want more of Him. Augustine said: To fall in love with Christ is the greatest romance; to seek Him the greatest adventure; to find Him, the greatest human achievement. Scripture says that Jesus’ zeal for His Father’s house consumed Him.1 Christ knew His Father perfectly, yet in His full humanity, Jesus was always running after God.
We continue looking at Horatius Bonar’s hymn entitled, “I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say.” We are studying the hymn in three bites (following its three stanzas), the Scriptures it points to, and some lessons to be gleaned.
This builds on previous posts. You can read I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say (Part 1)
Hymn Stanza #2 says:
I heard the voice of Jesus say, “Behold, I freely give
The living water: thirsty one, Stoop down, and drink, and live.”
I came to Jesus, and I drank of that life-giving stream;
My thirst was quenched, my soul revived, and now I live in Him.
Jesus said: “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 living water….Whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life….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.” By this He meant the Holy Spirit….(John 4:10,14, 7:37-39)
1. The hymn again recalls Jesus’ words as an invitation and promise to us today. The ancient Scriptures (Old and New Testaments) were written to teach us, help us endure, encourage us, give us hope, and lead us back to Christ.2 Bonar said: Be much alone with God, and take time to get thoroughly acquainted with Him. Converse over everything with Him. Unburden yourself completely. Bring Christ every thought, feeling, wish, plan, doubt. He wants to be close with you constantly to help you.
2. Jesus is the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion, and sin.3 Being thirsty for God means that we continually ask Him to treat us mercifully, giving us His holiness and happiness as we follow Him day by day.
3. We should seek the Lord like the Psalmist:
As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, my God. My soul thirsts for the living God….You are my God, earnestly I seek you; I thirst for you, my whole being longs for you….Your lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise you….My soul follows close behind you; your right hand upholds me….I spread out my hands to You; my soul longs for you like a thirsty land.4
4. God the Holy Spirit is our Comforter, Counselor, Helper, and Intercessor. He is the Revealer, Regenerator, Renewer, Sealer, Sanctifier, Strengthener, and so much more. The Holy Spirit brings sinners to Jesus the Savior and then helps us behave like our Savior more and more. We may not always be conscious of the Holy Spirit’s presence, but we would never be thirsty for Christ if the Spirit was absent. God the Spirit is the Lord and Giver of life who gives Jesus’ followers eternal life with God that begins now and continues forever.
5. The Holy Spirit closes the Bible saying: “Come!…Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.5 What an invitation! Have you come back to Christ today?
Thank God, Jesus’ followers will not perish but have eternal life. Troubles test us and test our faith. When loved ones pass away or abandon us, when bosses and leaders treat us badly, when others reject us, these hardships can leave us with spiritual, mental, and emotional scars. But Jesus keeps treating us with His kindness and compassion to continue on for Him in this life and into the world to come.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, keep on filling us with your Holy Spirit and with assurance of God’s love for us. Keep giving us your righteousness, peace, and joy. Help us to grow in likeness to Christ and in the Spirit’s fruit. Forgive for groaning and grumbling and not seeking your living water day by day. Remind us that we only hurt ourselves when we fail to come back to you. Amen.
Notes (various translations): 1 John 2:17, quoting Psalm 69:9. 2 Rom 15:4. 3 Exodus 34:5-7. 4 Psalm 42:1-2; 63:1,3,8; 143:6. 5 Rev 22:17.