Image: Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
Note: Devotion taken from last Sunday's sermon on John 7:37-39.
He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water (John 7:38).
Christ speaks these words on the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles (John 7:37-38).
What does “out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water” mean? The Greek word for “belly” is koilia. It usually refers quite literally to the stomach. In Luke 15:16 it is used to describe the Prodigal son’s filling “his belly with the husks that the swine did eat.” For women it can also refer to the womb, as in Luke 1:41 which speaks of John, before his birth, leaping in the womb of his mother in the presence of Christ.
But it can also have a metaphorical sense. It refers to a man’s innermost existence, his gut, or his heart. The equivalent Hebrew word is sometimes used in this way in the OT. Compare:
Proverbs 20:27 The spirit of man is the candle of the Lord, searching all the inward parts of the belly.
Job 15:35 They conceive mischief, and bring forth vanity, and their belly prepareth deceit.
Jesus says that for the person who thirst and drinks of him (believes in him), from his inmost self (his inner man) “shall flow rivers of living water.”
We believe in the plenary verbal inspiration of Scripture. We believe the words are important. The verb for “to flow” here is rheo. It occurs only here in the NT, but it is used in classical Greek where it has the figurative sense of “to flow with more than enough of something” (BGD, Greek Lexicon, 735). It is used in the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible (the Septuagint) to describe the land “flowing with milk and honey.”
Jesus says the believer will have rivers (plural!) of living water flowing, super-abounding, flooding the banks of his inner life. Calvin notes that “rivers” here refers to “the diversified graces of the Spirit, which are necessary for the spiritual life of the soul.”
Christ promises to give to those who believe in him something that is soul-satisfying and that issues from them and cannot be contained. It cannot be held back.
Calvin adds that this does not mean that “on the first day, believers are so fully satisfied with Christ, that ever afterwards they neither hunger nor thirst.” Rather, it means that “Christ kindles a new desire of him” and that the Holy Spirit is “like a living and continually flowing fountain in the believer.”
Are you thirsty? Will you come and drink of Christ that you might be filled to overflowing?
Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle
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