HOW GOD STAYS IN TOUCH WITH MAN: XIV

Bread alone cannot sustain life. The human body alone consists of sixty percent of water. The planet earth is surrounded by water and ice. The blood, in the human body, turns into water when the soul and the spirit depart. We do not just drink water, but we use water to clean and to wash everything, including ourselves. One of our Lord’s last Words on the cross were, “I thirst.” The beloved John Zebedee with Jesus’ mother watched the crucifixion and recalled the incident:

Later, knowing that all was now completed, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.” A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips. When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit (John 19:28-30).

Shortly before Jesus was apprehended, tortured, disgraced, and hung on the cross, He offered to his enemies and to His followers the “Water of Life” that clenches all thirst:

Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty. But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:35-40).

On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood up and said in a loud voice, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come  to receive to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not yet been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.

On hearing his words, some of the people said, “Surely this man is the Prophet.” Others said, “He is the Christ.”

Still others asked, “How can the Christ come from Galilee? Does not the Scripture say that the Christ will come from David’s family 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 7:37-44).

WHAT DID JESUS MEAN BY HIS BREAD AND HIS DRINK THAT WOULD LAST FOREVER?

The answer is: After Christ had completed His Mission and after He had returned to the Father in heaven, the Holy Spirit and the Spirit of the Godhead, Christ promised that the Holy Spirit will permanently settle in every person who will believe in Jesus Christ as his or her Savior. From that moment on, such a person will conduct and will live their life in the Spirit and in the teachings of Christ. They, no longer, will depend on a religious sage or expert, or on a mountain, or on a temple to guide them. Again, this remarkable mystery, Jesus revealed to a Samaritan woman and not to a religious elect group in Jerusalem or in Judea. The first time, God reached out to the virgin Mary to bring His Son into the world. And the second time, God reached out to the whole world with His Holy Spirit, was a woman who was hated by the Jews. A people, who did not regard themselves as Yahweh’s people, became Yahweh’s people. Jesus’ greatest success on earth was with the Samaritans. Jesus’ encounter with a forbidden woman warms every sinners heart.

Now Jesus had to go through Samaria. So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about the sixth hour.

When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)

The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.)

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 living water.”

“Sir, the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his flocks and herds?’

Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed the water that I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

The woman said to him,”Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”

He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”

“I have no husband,” she replied.

Jesus said to her, “You are right when you say you have no husband. The fact is, you have had five husbands,and the man you now have is not our husband. What you have said is quite true.”

“Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”

Jesus declared, “Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth for they are the king of worshipers the Father seeks. God is spirit, and is worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”

The woman said, “I know that Messia” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”

Then Jesus declared, “I who speak to you am he.”

Just then his disciples returned and were surprised to find him talking a woman. But no one asked, “What do you want?” or “Why are you talking with her?”

Then, leaving her water jar, the woman went back to the town and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Christ?” They came out of the town and made their way toward him.

Meanwhile his disciples urged him, “Rabbi,eat something.”

But he said to them, “I have food to eat that you know nothing about.”

Then his disciples said to each other, “Could someone have brought him food?”

“My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work. Do you not say, ‘Four months more and then the harvest’? I tell you, open your eyes and look at the fields! They are ripe for harvest. Even now the reaper draws his wages, even now he harvests the crop for eternal life, so that the sower and the reaper may be glad together. Thus the saying, ‘One sows and another reaps’ is true. I sent you to reap what you have not worked for. Others have done the hard work, and you have reaped the benefits of their labor.”

Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of he woman’s testimony, “He told me everything I ever did.” So when the Samaritans came to him, they urged his to stay with them, and he stayed two days. And because of his words many more became believers.

They said to the woman, “We no longer believe just because of what you said; now we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this man really is the Savior of the world” (John 4:4-42).

THE STREAMS OF LIVING WATER ARE THE SPIRIT OF GOD THAT SAT ON JESUS AT HIS BAPTISM

Baptism, by immersion, was the initiation into the Kingdom of Heaven on earth. And it began with Jesus Himself. Baptism represents the dying and the rising with Jesus the Christ. Even infant baptism must be validated when a person becomes old enough to declare him or herself dead to the world. The Gentile Apostle Paul put it in these words:

We were therefore buried with him (Christ) through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life (Romans 6:4).

Jesus, Himself, opened His Kingdom while He was baptized by John the Baptist. Therefore, Jesus made baptism as the initial step into God’s world. It was while Jesus was baptized that the Holy Spirit descended on Him. For our purpose, we follow Matthew and John. Mark and Luke also mention the events, which linked baptism with the coming of the Holy Spirit (Mak 1:9-11; Luke 3:21-22).

Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?”

Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented.

As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and lighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love with him I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:13-17).

The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one I meant when said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.”

Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God” (John 1:29-34).

Conversion is the prompting of the Holy Spirit and it is followed with an act of baptism. To Jesus, baptism was the evidence that a person was serious about giving up the old habits and the old traditions. And therefore, man is re-born into the kingdom of God. The reward for such an act of transformation is eternal life. Jesus told Nicodemus that there was no need to re-enter his mother’s womb, but that he should step into the water and become a new person in Christ.

“How can a man be born when he is old?” Nicodemus asked, “Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb to be born!”

Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, unless a man is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit” (John 3:4-8).

The Risen Lord instructed his disciples to baptize the students in order to receive instruction before they enter the kingdom of God. Baptism identified the students as believers in Christ in the eyes of the world. Christ promised to be with those who were baptized forever:

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I will be with you always to the very end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20).

Peter, the head of the Apostles, believed that water baptism preceded the pouring out of the Holy Spirit and that it also confirmed the Holy Spirit’s arrival. On Pentecost, when the crowd heard Peter’s sermon, they asked what they had to do, and he replied:

“Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”

With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day (Acts 2:38-41).

Peter’s next assignment took him to the Roman Centurion Cornelius in Caesarea. He was invited to share the Gospel of Christ with the Gentiles and while he preached, the Holy Spirit settled on the members of Cornelius’ household as He had done with the Jews on Pentecost in Jerusalem. Peter could not help but admit Cornelius, the Roman, into the kingdom of God.

While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles. For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God.

Then Peter said, “Can anyone keep these people from being baptized with water? They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.” So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked Peter to stay with them for a few days (Acts 10:44-48).

For our study, the covert Saul, who became Paul, was the final witness that the Holy Spirit and baptism followed his conversion and he too became a new person.

“Lord,” Ananias answered, “I have heard many reports about this man and all the harm he has done to your saints in Jerusalem. And he has come here with authority from the chief priests to arrest all who call on your name.”

But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.”

Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord—Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here—has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Immediately, something like scales fell from Saul’s eyes, and he could see again. Saul got up and was baptized, and after taking some food, he regained his strength (Acts 9:13-19).