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Rivers of Living Water

In this eyewitness account, “But one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, and forthwith came there out blood and water” (John 19:34, KJV), the Apostle John is describing for us POWER in pain. Certainly, there definitely is POWER in the pain our Lord experiences on Calvary, for it is only after He is beaten, flogged, spat on, nailed to the Cross, and then pierced in His side that Jesus the Christ  is allowed to release the power of His Cleansing Blood into the lives of the people who believe that He is God in the flesh. Ironically, it is His Cleansing Blood that removes sins’ stains while simultaneously creating believers stainless (purified or sanitized) clothing—believers are clothed in the Lord’s righteousness. Furthermore, on Calvary, after the Lord is pierced in His side, He also releases His Living Water or the power of the Holy Spirit, which supernaturally regenerates spiritually dead humans by giving new life to those who believe that Jesus the Christ is God in the flesh. This Christ-released power of the Holy Spirit also is that which gradually transforms born again and saved believers so that they eventually can receive new glorified bodies.

Concerning the POWER that Jesus the Christ releases after He is pierced in His side, there are many people who do not have any problem understanding the importance of the Lord’s shed blood; yet, they often cannot grasp the significance of the sudden flow of water that the Apostle John also says came out of Jesus the Christ’s pierced side. Unfortunately, the problem most people have with this streaming water results from individuals’ failure to understand that the eschatological imagery or prophecy that Jesus the Christ refers to in “He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water” (John 7:38, KJV) is the fulfillment of this Old Testament Scripture: “Therefore with joy shall ye draw out of the wells of salvation” (Isaiah 12:3, KJV; cf. Isaiah 43:19, 44:3; Zechariah 14:8, Ezekiel 47:1-11).

For sure, every time the Old Testament prophets speak about the Living Water, or rivers of water, or fountains of water, they eschatologically are associating this water with the Holy Spirit. Moreover, the Old Testament prophets’ eschatological imagery or prophecy of Living Water also ALWAYS points to Jesus the Christ as being the source of this Living Water. In fact, even the symbolic language found in the book of Revelation identifies Jesus the Christ as being the source of the Living Water that both the Old Testament prophets and the New Testament apostles’ eschatological imagery point to, for the Apostle John writes in Revelation:

And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. ~ 22:1-2, KJV

These above-cited verses support the belief that it is necessary for the people who have a problem grasping the full importance of the water that is shed from the Cross to realize that the apostle’s recording of this historical fact in John 19:34—that both blood and water flow from the Lord’s side—is not just to show that blood and water are connected to the Lord’s death. On the contrary, the Apostle John’s recounting of the blood and water that flowed from Jesus the Christ’s side is to show Bible readers that from the Old Testament to the New Testament, God has given blood and water various meanings, some of which might seem obscure.

In fact, since blood always has been a sign of life, then the Lord’s blood flowing out of His side, landing on those standing beneath His Cross, really doesn’t suggest His death. This shed blood actually symbolizes believers’ new life and their Positional Sanctification or Justification, their new standing in God, which ironically only could be achieved after the Lord has issued forth His blood. Blood, thus, not only equals atonement but also salvation, for the Lord has given His life as God’s perfect payment for sin and as His sacrificial gift so that believers can receive an eternal life with the Father.

Then too, since the Bible often uses water to signify the Holy Spirit, then the Lord’s water flowing out of His side, landing on those standing beneath the Cross, truly symbolizes believers’ Practical Sanctification, which ironically only could be achieved after the Lord has issued forth His water. Water, thus, not only equals the Holy Spirit’s ministry of purification but also symbolizes His ministries of regeneration, restoration, transformation, and glorification, for the Lord has given His life so that the supernatural Living Water (Holy Spirit) within Him could be poured out upon the world (cf. Zechariah 13:1; and Revelation 7:17).

Indisputably, Zechariah 13:1, which reads, “In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness” (KJV), implies that Positional Sanctification (Justification) and Practical Sanctification both flow out of our Lord in the form of the two component parts of His blood—Justification (made possible by Jesus the Christ’s shed blood) and progressive Sanctification (made possible by Jesus the Christ’s shed water). The Lord’s blood and water, thus, signify that Justification and Sanctification cannot come from sacrificial services, like the Feast of Tabernacles’ water ceremonies that Jesus the Christ is celebrating in John 7:37-39 (cf. 1 Corinthians 1:30; Hebrews 9:13, 14; 1 John 1:7; compare with Ezekiel 36:25).

Likewise, in Revelation 7:17, which reads, “For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes” (KJV), the Apostle John makes it clear that it is Jesus the Christ who draws (leads) believers to the Living Fountains of His water. His Living Fountain of water is understood to be the comforts or ministries of the Holy Spirit. Indeed, the main reason why Jesus the Christ releases the powerful comforts or ministries of the Holy Spirit, after the Lord is pierced in His side, is so that those who thirst will never have to thirst anymore.

Now, we need to note here that in order for blood and water to come out of any human’s pierced side, medical doctors have proven that this person has to be ALREADY dead, and not just playing dead! Therefore, when Jesus the Christ dies on the Cross, the evidence of which is the blood and water that flow from His pierced side, He fulfills Isaiah 12:3, Zechariah 12:10 and 13:1, as well as His own words spoken in John 7:38. In other words, when Jesus the Christ dies on the Cross, He completes His mission of pouring out the rivers of Living Water that give new LIFE. This mission-complete reason is why the Apostle John wants believers to understand the close relationship the water that flows out of Jesus the Christ’s side (cf. John 19:34) has with the water the Lord mentions in John 7:38, and why the apostle wants believers to comprehend the close connection John 19:34 and John 7:38 in turn have with the eschatological imagery or prophecy of Isaiah 12:3.

The Apostle John records the following incident:

In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)  ~  John 7:37-39, KJV

As mentioned earlier, v. 38 of the above-cited verses contains the eschatological imagery or prophecy that is found in this Old Testament Scripture: “Therefore with joy shall ye draw out of the wells of salvation” (Isaiah 12:3). Thus, individuals who fail to understand this eschatological imagery or prophecy also will fail to see that Jesus the Christ fulfills Isaiah 12:3 when He stands up on the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles and says, “He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water” (John 7:38, KJV).

Be that as it may, the truth of the matter is that many Bible scholars agree that in several talmudic passages, Isaiah 12:3 is associated with the water ceremony that takes place on the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles. In Jesus the Christs time, this water ceremony had involved temple priests collecting in golden pitchers water drawn from the pool of Siloam that they then mingled with wine before they poured out this mixture onto the sacrifice that was at the foot of the Temple altar, which was located in the court of the priests.

This pouring of the water and wine mixture onto the altar, thus, is not only a symbolic remembrance of the Old Testament times when God supernaturally gave the wilderness Israelites water from the Rock, thereby saving them from dying of thirst, but also this water ceremony is an eschatological image (a foreshadowing or type) of the water and blood that flow from the crucified Jesus the Christ’s pierced side. For these reasons, there should be no doubt that this Feast of Tabernacles’ water ceremony also signifies the giving of the gifts of salvation, eternal life, and the Holy Spirit, for on the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles, when Jesus the Christ stands up and speaks the words found in John 7:38, His actions and His words convey that, even in the midst of an immense crowd that is occupied with this religious water ceremony, the Lord still knows which participants are unsatisfied, empty, and thirsty souls in need of the gifts of salvation, eternal life, and the Holy Spirit.

Furthermore, Jesus the Christ already had demonstrated this ‘knowing’ ability to the woman He met at Jacob’s Well, which is located in the village of Sychar, Samaria (cf. John 4:4-26). When the Lord speaks to this woman about the abundant, never-ending fountain that is within Him, He is revealing to her what He later reveals to the multitudes on the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles (cf. John 7:37-39).

On the day Jesus the Christ meets the woman at the well, He first tells this woman that the water she draws from Jacob’s Well will not satisfy the thirst in humans’ souls. Then He tells her that those who drink from this well’s water will thirst again—they spiritually will continue to search for salvation and eternal life. Additionally, He lets her know that He has Living Water of Life flowing inside of Him, which He professes in John 4:10, when He says, “…If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water” (KJV). He then lets this woman at the well know that, as the Son of God, He is able to provide the spiritual Living Water that will quench humans’ thirst forever and ever. Jesus the Christ tells her, “…whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life” (John 4:14, KJV; cf. Isaiah 12:3, John 7:38 and John 19:34).

This incident with the woman at the well supports the understanding that in John 7:38 Jesus the Christ’s actions and words communicate to the gathered multitudes and their religious leaders that there is no longer any need for the temple priests to continue their water ceremony. His actions and words communicate to anyone who believes in Him—believes that He not only is God in the flesh but also the personification of the Old Testament Rock from which the Israelites received water in the wilderness—that he or she then also MUST believe that he or she has to come to Him, first, and drink. Jesus the Christ’s actions and words communicate to those who would believe in Him that He is the ONLY source of Living Water, and that those who drink from Him will receive God’s gift of the Holy Spirit.

Without doubt, Jesus the Christ is that very Rock from which the Israelites received water in a dry and thirsty land, so on the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles Jesus the Christ’s actions and words communicate not only that He had enough water flowing from out of that supernatural Rock to feed approximately 2½ million people, and their livestock, but also that He is the ONLY source from whom that Living Water still abundantly flows. Indeed, His actions and words convey this Divine Truth: The amount of Living Water He has in Him is more than enough to cover EVERY spiritual need that EVERY believer (Hebrew and Gentile) ever could have.

This Divine Truth is why when, on the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles, at the very moment that Jesus the Christ stands up and declares that anyone who thirsts can come to Him and drink, He also is fulfilling the Isaiah 12:3 promise, especially when He says, “…as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.” For sure, God now allows that prophesied constant Living Water to flow in and out of Jesus the Christ’s belly, for He is the promised Savior who has come to save the entire world.

Therefore, the reference to Isaiah 12:3 proves that the Lord’s “…out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water” words that are recorded in John 7:38 prove that He is not referring to any rivers of Living Water that believers full of the Holy Spirit believe they have flowing deep within them. For many years, unfortunately, most charismatic believers have believed that the Lord’s “…out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water” words meant that the source of the rivers of Living Water Jesus the Christ is speaking about is in them. This interpretation is the reason why many charismatic believers have tended to press on and push in believers’ bellies, with the understanding that they are laying hands on those believers who do not speak in tongues so that these non-tongues talking believers could release their own heavenly language.

It is evident, however, that there is but one true interpretation of John 7:38. In the context in which Jesus speaks about rivers of Living Water, it is clear that He is NOT saying that these rivers are flowing in or out of any believer. Let there be no doubt about it. Jesus the Christ is saying that this Water is flowing in and out of Him, just as the Old Testament prophets have prophesied.

Likewise, in the context in which Jesus speaks John 7:38, there is no doubt that the Lord is saying that anyone who is thirsty – is thirsty because there are NO wells, NO fountains, and NO rivers of Living Water flowing in or out of him or her! In other words, the Lord is saying that if anyone wants any Living Water, he or she must first come to Him and drink! Accordingly, anyone who wants to be filled with the Holy Spirit (the Living Water), he or she first must accept Jesus the Christ as Lord and Savior!

Indeed, since Jesus the Christ says: “If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink” (John 7:37, KJV), He is without a doubt also saying, from a western Christ-centered perspective, anyone who thirsts must first believe in Jesus the Christ, because only then can he or she come to the Lord and drink from Him. Anyone who has received the gift of Salvation is, from the Lord’s perspective, the person whose thirst He will satisfy through the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

Supporting this understanding is Apostle John’s parenthetical statement. The apostle writes, “(But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)” ~ John 7:39, KJV. Now, since the Holy Spirit had not been given to anybody the Lord is speaking to in John 7:37-38, then it stands to reason that in John 7:38, Jesus the Christ is saying that He is the only One who has rivers of Living Water flowing in and out of Him, and He proves this point on Calvary when, after He is pierced in His side, both blood and water flow out of Him.

For all of the above-mentioned reasons, we who are thirsty must first drink from Jesus the Christ (respond to the preached Word) before we can become born again, saved, and ultimately filled with the Holy Spirit! Supporting this last statement are Psalm 42:1-2 and Matthew 5:6, which respectively reveal that to ‘drink’ from Jesus the Christ means that spiritually thirsty humans must go through the process of opening their unsatisfied, empty, and thirsty souls to the powerful workings of God’s Holy Spirit. When sinners respond favorably to the Holy Spirit’s initial influence, respond positively to the prompting that He does after sinners hear the preached Word, God’s Grace and the power of His Holy Spirit are then able to regenerate their spiritually dead human spirits. This regeneration helps born again individuals see that they now need to confess and then repent their sins so that they can accept Jesus the Christ as their Lord and Savior.

This entire process of drinking first from the Lord will then open up believers’ souls to the Holy Spirit’s ministry. His mission here on Earth includes sanctifying believers (transforming them into the image of Jesus the Christ by making them holy without spot or blemish) so that He then can give them glorified bodies when the Lord comes to rapture His CHURCH. Ultimately, the more believers consciously allow the Holy Spirit’s Living Water to touch their lives (to not only fill but also refill, and refill them . . .) the more believers will find God’s power, peace, and presence flowing in and out of them.

The POWER, thus, that comes from the pain that Jesus the Christ suffered only could be released into our lives after our Lord is pierced in His side. The flow of both blood and water that come from His side is the only way we now are able to obtain eternal peace and joy, and the only way we now are able to have our unsatisfied, empty, and thirsty souls filled with the power of the Holy Spirit so that we will never have to hunger and thirst anymore.

There, thus, is no doubt that the Isaiah 12:3, John 7:38, and John 19:34 Scriptures make it very clear that it is Jesus the Christ who is our source of Living Water and that He is the One who actually leads (draws) us to His Living Fountains, which are the comforts and ministries of God’s Holy Spirit. As Bishop Noel Jones says in his “The Power of Pain” sermon, the devil should have thought twice about crucifying Jesus the Christ. Bishop Jones maintains that it is the Lord’s crucifixion that causes Theology (the study of God) to pass through Christology (the study of Christ) so that Pneumatology (the study of the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit) could be released in us—for it is ONLY through Christ that we find God, and it is ONLY through Christ that the Holy Spirit is released!