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320. Walking in the Word – Divided People, Thirsty Souls

By julie

If our world seems divided and in chaos, that’s because it is! But look closer, Jesus gives His peace to all who come to Him. He offers calming, living water to quench our thirst and soothe our souls, and then He gives us a job to do. Are you up for the mission? (John 7:32-52)

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Welcome to Walking in the Word, the biblical teaching arm of the Women World Leaders podcast. My name is Julie Jenkins, and I am so glad you have joined us as we walk through Scripture together, asking God to teach us what He wants us to know today.

If you are new to the podcast, we hope you will join us at womenworldleaders.com and check out all we have going on. We are a group of women who are sold out to God and on a mission to share the gospel and empower you to live out your God-given calling. We believe that as followers of Christ, we each are called to lead with purpose, and we want to walk with you as you step out for Jesus. Besides our podcasts, magazine, books, and events, we are poised to offer you yet one more way to grow.

Before Covid hit, we were meeting monthly in person, which God turned into a Facebook Live during the lock-down of the pandemic. As the world got back to normal, we stopped Facebook Live, as many began to crave interaction. We are pleased to announce that we are now opening our monthly leadership Zoom calls – which are full of leadership instruction and interaction, as well as Women World Leaders news and updates – to YOU. We meet on the third Monday of the month at 7 pm ET. If you would like to join us, drop us an email at info@womenworldleaders.com, and we will make sure you get the Zoom link.

Let’s jump into our study, shall we? We are currently walking through the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John chronologically. Today’s Scripture comes from John 7:32-52. Before we begin, let’s pray…

Father God, we open our Bibles today with one goal – that is to hear your voice. We thank and praise you that you always have and always will speak through your scriptures. We know that when we quiet our spirits and open your Word, we WILL have an encounter with you, our sovereign Lord, Creator, Sustainer, and might King. We give you this time and we come to you with no preconceived ideas – simply trusting you Holy Spirit, to impart wisdom to each of us. Open our ears that we might hear, and open our hearts that we might be receptive to what you have to say. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

When we left Jesus last week, he was at the Feast of the Tabernacles, teaching in the temple courts. We heard Him say that His teaching was directly from God and give reasons that His healing of a man on the Sabbath was done by the will and power of God.

We often think of Jesus as a conduit of peace, but that didn’t seem to be the case in this instance. At least not looking at the crowd from a bird’s eye view. Jesus’ words, in fact, were divisive. Causing an array of feelings and emotions to erupt from the festival-going crowd. Some stated outright that Jesus was a good man, others said, “No, he deceives people.” Some were amazed and wondered how He had acquired such wisdom without having been formally taught, some said He was demon-possessed. Then some recognized that this was the man that the authorities were trying to kill, and they wondered why He was being allowed to speak in public. From an onlooker’s perspective, there was certainly more disarray and division than peace that day.

John 7:32 from the New Living Translation begins….

32 When the Pharisees heard that the crowds were whispering such things, they and the leading priests sent Temple guards to arrest Jesus. 33 But Jesus told them, “I will be with you only a little longer. Then I will return to the one who sent me. 34 You will search for me but not find me. And you cannot go where I am going.”

We have highlighted God’s perfect timing often  – that Jesus was aware of what would happen when.

Now, the Pharisees, who had been after Jesus for a while but had not been successful at stopping or arresting Him, sent the Temple guards after Him. Although the Romans ruled the area politically, they gave the Jews much autonomy when it came to managing their own events and people. These temple guards were Levites who had been given the responsibility to keep order in the temple precincts. Remember God had chosen and appointed the Levites – those from the tribe of Levi –  from among the Jews to maintain the temple and perform priestly duties.

So the temple guards, these so-called holy men, were dispatched to arrest Jesus, but they were stopped in their tracks by Jesus’ words. “I will be with you only a little longer. Then I will return to the one who sent me. 34 You will search for me but not find me. And you cannot go where I am going.”

Again…let me bring up God’s perfect timing. Jesus announced to the guards, in essence, that it wasn’t yet His time. Jesus knew He still had six months before his crucifixion. And He intended to use every moment.

Don’t you think we would please God to follow Jesus’ example here? How many times do we write off time? It’s 4:00…I can’t do much more before 5, I might as well call it a day. Or…it’s Friday…I’m done. Or maybe … there’s only a week left before my vacation, I’ll wait till after to start this project….or perhaps… It’s December – I know…I’ll start a New Year’s Resolution on January 1st. …Or even… I’m too old, my best days are behind me.

One of my regular prayers is to offer God my time…my minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, and years. God has a plan and a purpose for each of us, and that includes many God-appointments along the way. Jesus only had six months left on earth. And if anyone was tired, He was! But He made use of each moment.

Don’t ever wish away your time. Although I can’t imagine how difficult Jesus’ life was, knowing with each step he was walking closer to his painful death, it was also an amazing time that God granted Him to walk in the flesh among His own people! And Jesus clearly didn’t want to waste a minute – because He understood what a blessing it was to bring people to the Father for eternity. You and I also have that privilege and honor. Let’s not waste a moment!

Verse 35…

35 The Jewish leaders were puzzled by this statement. “Where is he planning to go?” they asked. “Is he thinking of leaving the country and going to the Jews in other lands?[a] Maybe he will even teach the Greeks! 36 What does he mean when he says, ‘You will search for me but not find me,’ and ‘You cannot go where I am going’?”

Not only did Jesus bring division. He also brought confusion! If you have been a follower of Christ for any length of time, you probably understand! The more I learn about the Bible, the more questions I have! God is so gracious to pull back the veil of His glory just one inch at a time. As painstaking as that can feel, I know it is by perfect design! If God were to suddenly pull back the curtain so that we could see Him in ALL His glory, we would fall to the ground, speechless and unable to move a single muscle or take a single breath. But God won’t do that, because He has work for us to do and words for us to share with others!

Verse 37…

37 On the last day, the climax of the festival, Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! 38 Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’”[b] 39 (When he said “living water,” he was speaking of the Spirit, who would be given to everyone believing in him. But the Spirit had not yet been given,[c] because Jesus had not yet entered into his glory.)

The Scripture says that this was the last day of the festival – so let me give you a picture of what was happening in the background. Jewish traditions were chock full of ceremonies, and the ceremonies on this last day of the festival would have been impressive. The priests and worshippers would have paraded outside the city to the pool of Siloam where they would fill golden pitchers with water. Then they would return and march seven times around the altar before they poured the water on it – commemorating God’s provision of water to their ancestors who had wandered in the desert for 40 years. People need water to quench their thirst and live, and God provided water for the Israelites to live in the desert.

Amid this commemorative ceremony, Jesus stood and SHOUTED to the crowds walking by…“Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! 38 Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.”

God provided water in the desert, now God was providing the LIVING WATER to ANYONE who would come to Jesus. And not only would Jesus provide water, but He would perform a miracle in the life of anyone who came to Him, allowing RIVERS of LIVING WATER to flow FROM him.

This is so incredible! Many years and Bible studies later, we understand that Jesus was talking about quenching our spiritual thirst – that emptiness inside us that can only be filled by God. That emptiness that, not filled by God, manifests itself in destruction, depression, and meaninglessness. Jesus ALONE can fill that thirst! If you are not a Christian, if you have not given God control of your life, if you are still thirsty, wandering and wanting – not even knowing WHAT you are wanting – then I encourage you, go to Jesus – give Him your heart and your life – your minutes, hours, days, weeks, months, and years. I guarantee you that if you do, you will feel a satisfaction that you have never felt before!

And if you have already given your life to Christ, please don’t miss that now, RIVERS of LIVING WATER are flowing from you! And make no mistake, that water coming from you, is not FOR you! When God allows His water, His Spirit to flow FROM you – that is purely meant as a gift for someone else. He has a divine appointment for you to share Jesus with others! He has a calling and a purpose for your life. Don’t waste the water! Don’t waste the gift that He has given you to share with someone else!

Verse 40…

40 When the crowds heard him say this, some of them declared, “Surely this man is the Prophet we’ve been expecting.”[d] 41 Others said, “He is the Messiah.” Still others said, “But he can’t be! Will the Messiah come from Galilee? 42 For the Scriptures clearly state that the Messiah will be born of the royal line of David, in Bethlehem, the village where King David was born.”[e] 43 So the crowd was divided about him. 44 Some even wanted him arrested, but no one laid a hand on him.

Confusion and division remained in the air. But God’s perfect control and timing was even more prevalent. The guards, sent to arrest Jesus, simply couldn’t. Because it was not yet in God’s plan.

If you are a follower of Christ, know that you can walk wherever God calls you completely surrounded by His plan. Oh it’s true that our God is our protector, but that doesn’t mean that He won’t allow us to be affected by evil. I guess that isn’t something you expect to hear in a Bible teaching, but the truth is, that sometimes we ARE hit by evil, by illness, by strife that comes our way. In those times, we may be tempted to ask, Where is God, now? I’ll tell you where He is…He is right with you!! He is allowing forces to come against you…but He is holding you and has a plan to see you through to glory. And likely, that plan involves using your attitude and love toward Him to get the attention of others, giving you the HONOR to lead others to Him. To share that Living Water.

Verse 45…

45 When the Temple guards returned without having arrested Jesus, the leading priests and Pharisees demanded, “Why didn’t you bring him in?”

46 “We have never heard anyone speak like this!” the guards responded.

Hallelujah! Our God SPOKE the universe into existence. His Word is more powerful than we can even imagine. No…there has never been, nor will ever be, one who speaks like our God.

Verse 47…

47 “Have you been led astray, too?” the Pharisees mocked. 48 “Is there a single one of us rulers or Pharisees who believes in him? 49 This foolish crowd follows him, but they are ignorant of the law. God’s curse is on them!”

50 Then Nicodemus, the leader who had met with Jesus earlier, spoke up. 51 “Is it legal to convict a man before he is given a hearing?” he asked.

52 They replied, “Are you from Galilee, too? Search the Scriptures and see for yourself—no prophet ever comes[f] from Galilee!”

In our Scripture today…there is division from beginning to end. We saw it in the crowd throughout, and now we see it in individuals. The Pharisees mocked the Temple guards, who were stopped in their tracks by the holiness of Jesus, and then Nicodemus stood strong, asking, “Is it legal to convict a man before he is given a hearing?”

God calls his believers to stand strong for Him. No matter what the cost.

I said at the beginning that, from a bird’s eye view, Jesus brought divisiveness and confusion. But if we look closer, we see that Jesus did indeed bring peace.  

Take a look into the heart of Nicodemus. Oh…his heart may have been thumping as he stood his ground for Jesus, but I’m willing to bet that our God, the God of love, joy, and peace, filled Nicodemus’ heart with an overflowing peace as he stood for his Lord and Savior. And, we know that from the heart of Nicodemus came streams of living water, ready to quench the thirsty, as he pointed others to the glory of Jesus.

Don’t ever let the divisiveness and the confusion of the crowd pull you from the plan and purpose God has for you. There will always be nay-sayers and grumblers who demean you or tell you your time, background, and knowledge are worthless. Your responsibility, Christian, is to answer to God alone. He has given you a calling and a purpose, When you seek Him, you will find Him. When you follow Him, He will grant you peace amid turmoil. When you ask for His wisdom, He will grant it. He IS the living water, and He wants His water to flow from you. Let’s pray.

Dear Most Holy and Loving God, Thank you for calling us to come to you. Thank you for always being there to give us all we need. And thank you for letting us partner with you – to share your living water with others who are thirsty. God, you are our audience of one, and we give you our minutes,hours, days, weeks, months, and years to do with as you will. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.