John 7:37-39

John 7:37-39

On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” 39 Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

  1. Jesus says of the one who believes in Him: “Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” This describes the result of accepting the astonishing offer of the ‘new life’ in Jesus. Brainstorm together as a group: what single word does the phrase “rivers of living water” evoke in your minds? Joy? Influence? Hope? Do you think experiencing these “rivers” is something we need to work up? Is it a skill that needs to be honed? If so, then how? If not, how do we experience what Jesus is promising here? Does your own Christian walk often resemble gushing “rivers of living water”? Why or why not? What prevents you from experiencing this?
  2. To your mind, what does the experience of “rivers of living water” flowing out of your heart look like in real life? What do you think Jesus is really describing here?
  3. When the children of Israel cried out for water in the wilderness, God instructed Moses to “strike” the rock so that water would flow forth from it (Exodus 17:6). He did, and it did. But Paul tells us that “they [that is, the Children of Israel] drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ” (1 Corinthians 10:4). What does Paul mean by this? How might this relate to our passage?
  4. Later, the children of Israel found themselves in yet another ‘waterless’ situation. But this time God instructed Moses to “tell” -or ‘speak to’ – the rock and it would yield its water (Num. 20:7-8). Why the change? Why not “strike” it again?
  5. Have you ever found yourself in a ‘waterless’ situation? Share your experience with the group. What did you learn from it? How did the “spiritual Rock” come through for you?
  6. Jesus promised that “rivers of living water” would flow from the “heart” of believers. What do you think He meant by the “heart”?
  7. Think about the wonderful promise of Isaiah 58:11. Look at the specific words in this verse. Which words jump out at you? What is God promising here?
  8. Augustine wrote insightfully about these “rivers”. He said:

“Christ did not promise us …  health in the body … [or] longevity when we believe in him … He didn’t promise a beautiful body … When He said, “Out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water” (7:38), He didn’t promise us any of these things. He did promise eternal life, a life where we will fear nothing … These, then, are the kinds of things he promised us when we love him, when we burn with the love of the Holy Spirit.”

Why do you think God didn’t promise us any of the things Augustine mentioned? Why did He instead promise us what He did? What does this teach us about our misplaced desires and priorities? How might we better want the things that God wants for us, and let go of the rest?

  • John 7:39 tells us EXACTLY what these “rivers” are all about. What was Jesus speaking of?
  • 7:39 also says, “the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.” When was Jesus glorified? What does this mean? It might help to look at John 12:16, 12:23-26, and especially 13:31-35. How does the world’s view of glory differ from Jesus’ view?