The Gospel is supposed to be presented as good news. It is supposed to be a sign of relief from the desert that is the world. Living Water (John 7:38) for a world of people who are dying of thirst. Or the Bread of Life (John 6:35) for those who are savaging scraps to eat. The gospel is that Jesus is the oasis in the desert and the source of the Living Water and the Bread of Life. Believers are those who have already “tasted and seen that the Lord is good” (Psalm 34:8). Believers are to carry that bread and water with them to share with others and point them to the source. Believers cannot force anyone to eat or drink, but only give them the option. One cannot threaten someone with good news (the gospel), if they reject it then they miss out.
Some will taste and receive and follow believers to the source, but others won’t believe the bread or water are safe to consume. Some may prefer to starve and die, and others may even scoff and say they prefer to consume dung and urine, or sand and muddy water. They all do so believing that the oasis is too good to be true, and the food is just as unsafe and filthy as everything else they eat. That is why it is important for believers to make sure that the water they carry is clean and doesn’t get contaminated by sin or corruption so that people can see the value of the foods of the eternal oasis we call the Kingdom. This is illustrated in Proverbs 25:25-26, which says, “25 Good news from far away is like cold water to the thirsty. 26 If the godly give in to the wicked, it’s like polluting a fountain or muddying a spring.
Believers are supposed to share the gospel and let others be convinced by the gospel itself. If they don’t believe then it is their loss. Matthew 28:18-20 says to “teach” all nations, not conquer and enslave all nations. One can not threaten a person with “good news” (the gospel). It doesn’t make any sense to say, “Christ died for your sins, now repent or die”. The natural response to that is, “well if Christ died for my sins why do you have to kill me?” Furthermore, you can’t threaten someone with good news. Imagine the doctor telling you that you are cancer-free while holding a scalpel to your neck. Are they trying to harvest your organs because you are healthy? Or a lawyer congratulating you on a victory in court, while holding a gun to your head. Are they trying to rob you? Good news brings hope to the hopeless, and therefore it cannot threaten anyone. It’s about speaking truth in love (Ephesians 4:15) and love is the opposite of fear (1 John 4:18, 1 Corinthians 13:4-7).
Jesus used these analogies for himself as the bread of life in John ch. 6 and the source of living waters in John ch. 4 and John ch. 7.
In John 6:32-40 Jesus said he is the Bread of Life. This was said just before Passover. Leaven is often used as a metaphor for sin. This analogy is seen in the new testament in Paul’s letters when he says, “a little leaven spoils the whole lump” (1 Cor 5:6, Gal 5:9), referring to a little sin corrupting a whole congregation. Therefore Jesus is referencing that he is an unleavened bread (matzah) or sinless, in comparison to us who are leavened bread (chametz). The title of “Bread of Life” also connects him to the Passover lamb, whose blood protected the Israelites from judgment when spread on their doorpost on Passover night in the Exodus story (Ex ch. 12). His sinlessness is what qualified him to be a substitute for us in death and for our sins, because the wages of sin is death (Rom 6:23). No other human could do it because we all have sinned, and the sacrifices of animals only covered sins but they couldn’t cleanse them like Jesus could (Heb 10:1-14). Animals are not made in God’s image like humans (Gen 1:26-27) and therefore would never work as a sufficient sacrifice, God needed a “second Adam” to fix what the first one broke (1 Corinthians 15:47).
In John 4:4-15, Jesus was in Samaria, which was home to the Samaritans. These were related to the Jews but had mixed ethnicity and they had slightly different beliefs than the Jews. They worshiped God on Mt. Gerizim rather than the temple in Jerusalem while they did follow the Torah, they did not recognize the Prophets or Writings of the whole Tanak (Old Testament). These distinctions caused cultural clashes between Jews and Samaritans. In John 4, Jesus encounters a Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well, and he asks her to get him some water. She is shocked that he, a Jew, would even talk to her since she was a Samaritan. His response was, “If you only knew the gift God has for you and whom you are speaking to, you would ask me, and I would give you living water.” She asks where his bucket and rope are, he can’t get water from the well without them. Also, she asks if he thinks his water is better than the water in Jacob’s well. She didn’t realize that he wasn’t talking about the actual water in Jacob’s well, he was talking about the water of salvation. Jesus replies, “Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again, but those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.” Being a Samaritan she has a different understanding of the God of Israel, yet even she was drawn in. Jesus revealed her secret sins, and she was convinced he was someone special, like a prophet, and he revealed that he was the Messiah. Jesus explained that the new covenant would bring an era where no one would worship God on mountains or in Temples (no more division between Samaritans and Jews), but instead, people will worship in “spirit and truth”. This is because a believer’s body is like a new temple and the holy spirit is God’s presence inside that temple. So once a person is a believer, they have the holy spirit, and therefore they have the living water. She went and told the whole town about his knowledge of her sin, and they met him and believed that he was the Messiah. Samaritans received the holy spirit in Acts 8:4-25 when the disciples came to preach about the risen Jesus. This was the beginning of the flow of the living waters.
In John 7:36-38 he stands up during Sukkot and says, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’” This is a reference to the Mt. Horeb story in Exodus 17:6 where God provided water from a rock in the desert. The scriptures read during Sukkot like Numbers 20:11; Deuteronomy 8:15; Psalm 114:8, reference this event. Other writings from the prophets also reference this event and make this connect to the Messiah: Isaiah 44:3; Isaiah 55:1; Isaiah 58:11; Joel 2:23; Joel 3:18; Ezekiel 47:1; Ezekiel 47:12; Zechariah 13:1; Zechariah 14:8. There was a Pharisaic tradition to draw water from the Siloam spring in Jerusalem every day of Sukkot and take it to the Temple. Then at the Nisuch ha-Mayim (the pouring of water), the water and wine were poured out on the altar. The prophet Ezekiel referenced a new temple where living waters flow from it turning a desert into a garden (Ezekiel 47:2-20). The holy spirit is like the living water flowing from the temple, this Temple being the body of Christ, (the collection of believers all over the world), whose bodies are now like temples carrying God’s presence. We are to share this water with the world, turning the spiritual desert outside into a garden.
Jesus spoke of himself as the “Bread of Life” and the “Living Water”, reminding us that through him God provides for his people. Many of the 1st-century Israelite leaders didn’t see it that way, however, those Israelites that did taste and see that the lord was good, followed the command to love their neighbors they shared the bread of life and living water with the Jews, Samaritans, and the Gentile nations. However, believers must always keep that water clean and live holy lives, otherwise, why would anyone want water and bread that is just as filthy as what they already have?
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