Your thirst for more ______ can only be satisfied in Jesus.

Pastor Jeff Struecker

I want you to think back about that favorite meal that you’ve ever had. Just picture your mind for a second, like the best meal that you’ve ever had in your life. And then I want you to think about where that meal was. 

Maybe you went to a fancy restaurant that was really expensive. Maybe it was just a picnic by the lake. Think about the people that were around you during that meal. Maybe you had a whole huge gathering. Maybe it was just you and your sweetheart. Maybe it was you and your family. 

And now I want you to think about the food that you ate. My guess is the food was important; this is what makes it one of the most memorable, if not the most memorable meal. But perhaps it wasn’t just the food; maybe it was the environment. Maybe it was the people that you were with.

Well now, I want you to think about, for most of us in the United States, perhaps it was Thursday when you had family and friends gathered around, and you were able to celebrate a meal to together. I’m not exactly sure why we do this in the United States, why we say thank you to God by stuffing ourselves to the point of almost being ready to burst. maybe this goes back to a grandma who always told you that she loved you by making a whole bunch of food and wouldn’t let you leave without stuff in your belly. 

Perhaps it was just a brilliant marketing plan. Whatever it was, I want you to think about the best meal that you’ve ever had. And then, I want you to picture this. You got the meal in mind? Now I want you to go forward, about six or eight hours.

Are you hungry again? Check this out. We human beings, we can have the greatest, most satisfying meal in the world. And if you go just a few hours forward (in my case, just an hour or two, maybe three at the most), I’m hungry again. I just had the most satisfying, the most elaborate meal in the world, and I’m already hungry again, just a couple of hours later. That’s how God created the human body to need food to survive. 

I’m using food and hunger, because we all made a big deal about food in our country a couple of days ago, to set up what you’re going to hear from the Bible today. We’re going to go to the book of John. We’re studying verse by verse through the Bible book of John, and we’re in John chapter seven. 

Here’s what you’re going to hear from the Bible today: You and I have a hunger. We have this innate thirst for more. That hunger’s not a bad thing; it’s actually a quite good thing. But your thirst for more ____ can only be satisfied in Jesus. Now, I didn’t fill the blank in on purpose, because right now, whatever your greatest desire is, maybe it’s respect, maybe it’s relationships, maybe you’re trying to buy a thing, or you’re hoping for a position or a grade point average.

Your thirst for more ______ can only be satisfied in Jesus.

It doesn’t matter what you put in that blank. Whatever you’re most thirsty for whatever you hunger and long for the most, the deepest desires of your soul can only be satisfied by Jesus. 

1. The Holy Spirit satisfies.  

We’re going to study what Francis Chan calls “the forgotten God” today. In fact, Jesus is going to introduce us to God, the Holy Spirit. If you were to listen to people’s language, you’ll often hear them talk about God, the Father. Whether they believe in him or not, many people are going to use God in their everyday vocabulary. If you watch the movies or the television, God’s name shows up a lot, it’s just usually shown up in vain, which is a sin. It’s one of the 10 Commandments. 

People will even mention Jesus frequently in conversation. Maybe they believe in him; maybe they don’t believe that there was a guy by the name of Jesus who came out of Nazareth, many years ago. But rarely do you hear people use Holy Spirit language in their vocabulary. Unfortunately, we don’t even hear Christians use this kind of language nearly as much as we talk about God or about his son, Jesus. 

Well today Jesus is going to introduce us to the Holy Spirit: who he is and what he does. And what Jesus is going to show us is that that greatest thirst that you have inside can only be satisfied by Jesus’s spirit. Now let me introduce you to John chapter seven and the background when Jesus stands up and announces, only the Holy Spirit can really satisfy you at your deepest level.

Let me remind you if you’ve been following along with us a couple of weeks ago, Jesus’s brothers showed up, and they said, “Jesus, I think you want to become a big shot. If you’re going to be a big shot, you’ve got to go to the big city because that’s where the big crowds are.” Jesus said, “I don’t listen to you guys. I don’t listen to other people. I listen to my Father in Heaven.” But last week, Jesus decided, “I’m going to go to Jerusalem. I’m going to go to this huge festival, because it has immense spiritual significance. It’s called the Festival of Tents, or the Festival of Booths where people will literally take twigs and sticks and build a tent on their roof and sleep in the tent. 

The final day of the festival was the biggest day by far. It was one of the biggest spiritual holidays in ancient Israel. It was considered the ceremony of water. And in the ceremony of water, the priest would gather water out of the Pool of Siloam in Jerusalem. They would gather it in golden vessels, and then they would kind of parade the water through the streets. So this was a really big deal. They would gather Israel around as they poured the water out in front of Israel and reminded Israel that God did a miracle for their descendants way back in the desert, when they were leaving Egypt and going into the Promised Land. 

The people were thirsty, and they were almost at the point of death, and they were so thirsty, they were ready to kill Moses for it. Moses prayed, and God said, “Moses, I tell you what I want you to do. You take your staff, and you strike that rock in the middle of the desert. I’m going to make water pour out of that rock, and it will be enough water that it will quench the thirst of everybody in Israel, not just the people. It’s so much water, that it will even quench the animals’ thirst.” 

So when they did this ceremony of water, the priest would pour this water out in front of all of Israel. And he would say, “Hey, can I remind you all of what God did for our descendants, way back in the desert when Moses struck the rock and God did a miracle and made water flow out of solid rock?” Well, this is a reminder to us. 

That’s the backdrop. You guys got this image in your mind? Now, picture all of this is going on. And then imagine Jesus jumps up on a platform, and He starts to speak to the crowd at this very moment, in this significant event in the festival. This is where we pick up John chapter seven, starting in verse 37. Picture the crowd in your mind when Jesus stands up and does this. 

John 7:37-39 On the last and most important day of the festival, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. The one who believes in me, as the Scripture has said, will have streams of living water flow from deep within him.” He said this about the Spirit. Those who believed in Jesus were going to receive the Spirit, for the Spirit had not yet been given because Jesus had not yet been glorified.

If you have a Bible and you’re in the habit of circling or underlining, you need to circle, underline and put three exclamation marks next to that phrase, receive the spirit.

This is a massive spiritual holiday in Old Testament Israel, and Jesus doesn’t waste this moment. He said, “I’m going to do a miracle bigger than what Moses did when he struck the rock and God made water flow out of solid rock. I’m going to make water flow out of a thirsty soul. But there is a condition here, and the condition is you have to come to me thirsty and longing for more.” 

A couple of weeks ago, I challenged us as a church to go to God hungry, and when he satisfies you, get hungry for more. And when he satisfies you with more, go to him asking for more. He’s not the kind of Father that gets exasperated with you and says, “Would you just leave me alone and get off my back?” He’s the kind of Father that wants to quench our thirst, that wants to satisfy us. 

Jesus is going to use this moment to stand up in front of the crowds, and he’s going to tell them, “If you will come to me, I will fill you up.” Literally what Jesus says, please don’t miss the significance here is, “I am the living water.” And by saying, I am, he is taking on the name of God and saying, “I am the living water, and I’m going to quench you with water that doesn’t come from the outside, which means you can’t go to a well; you can’t go buy it at a grocery store, because that kind of water is going to leave you thirsty a couple of minutes or a couple of hours later. I’m going to quench you from inside, and you will not get hungry and spiritually thirsty anymore when I quench you from the inside. But you have to come to me thirsty.”

I want to think about a Christian that I know, who’s been walking with Jesus for a while, but if they were honest with you right now, they would say, “I don’t thirst for him at all. In fact, I’m kind of bored. I’m a little bit disappointed by Jesus.” And what’s happened in their soul, maybe they don’t even realize it, is they have substituted a thirst for the living God in the form of his Holy Spirit, and they have instead started to thirst for something that comes from outside. They’ve started to thirst for possessions and for a prominent place. 

Look, every human being was created with this innate desire for God. They don’t even have to recognize it; all of us have this thirst for more. This is why people will turn to pills or the bottle. This is why they’ll go to addictions. This is why some people will run to perform and to have the respect of the crowd or try to develop somebody’s applause because they’re hungry for people to pat them on the back and to say, “Hey, I’m proud of you. Hey, you’re a good person. Good job!” But then as soon as they get that kind of applause and praise, they’re literally looking for more. 

And Jesus says, “I’m ready to fill you up. And here’s what I’m going to do. When I’m gone, I’m going to give you my Spirit, who’s going to feel you from the inside. And so, you don’t have to go looking outside of you for more, when you already have more inside of you. But if you make the fatal mistake of exchanging what’s inside of you, and starting to look for that outside of you, you’re always, always, going to be disappointed.”

2. He convinces about King Jesus. 

So Jesus is telling us, “Listen, I built you in such a way that you have a desire that only the Holy Spirit can fill. And then I’m going to give you my Spirit, and he’s going to satisfy that desire. And the way that this starts is, when my Holy Spirit comes and he convicts you about King Jesus.

If you’ve been to our church for like 15 minutes, you’ve heard me use the phrase King Jesus around here. I use that phrase for a very specific reason, because when I say King Jesus, it puts everyone listening today on the spot, you have to decide, “I believe that there really was a guy by the name of Jesus, but do I believe he is my King and I am his subject? -which means he calls the shots in my life; I don’t call the shots in my life.” I use the phrase King Jesus for the exact same reason that the crowds are about to have a conversation about whether or not Jesus is the King, and everyone in the crowd recognizes the importance of this question. If I declare him King, everything changes. If I just believe that there was a guy by the name of Jesus that lived a long time ago, that doesn’t matter in my life. So every time I used the phrase King Jesus, I want in our church to hear God is reminding us that he sets the rules; he calls the shots.

Jesus is in charge, not us. Listen to what the crowd starts to say when Jesus jumps up and announces, “I am the living water, and only I can satisfy you.” They’re placed in the same situation that you and I are placed in about whether or not Jesus is King. Starting in verse 40: 

John 7:40-44 When some from the crowd heard these words, they said, “This truly is the Prophet.” Others said, “This is the Messiah.” But some said, “Surely the Messiah doesn’t come from Galilee, does he? Doesn’t the Scripture say that the Messiah comes from David’s offspring and from the town of Bethlehem, where David lived?” So the crowd was divided because of him. Some of them wanted to seize him, but no one laid hands on him. 

The Bible has already told us, “No one lays a hand on him because his hour has not yet come, because he hasn’t allowed them to lay a hand on him.” When Jesus stands up and preaches, he does not preach an easy feel good message. In fact, if you were to read some of the other books in the New Testament, Jesus even says, “I didn’t come to make life easy. I came to bring a sword and division, so that families would be divided and that brothers and sisters would be divided. Husbands and wives would be divided, mothers and children or fathers and sons would be divided, over whether or not I’m King.”

And when you and I go and share Jesus with other people, I’ll just tell you honestly, some people are going to get rubbed the wrong way, because what the gospel says is that every human being is entirely incapable of being good enough to get to Heaven on your own. So, you have to come totally desperate and completely thirsty to Jesus and say, “Jesus, I need you. -desperately, totally, need you. And if you don’t forgive me, if you don’t heal me, I have no hope of Heaven.” 

That message is not popular, because a lot of people like to think, “I’m a pretty good dude. I’m a lot better than my neighbor. Surely God is going to let me into Heaven because I’m a pretty good dude.” And what the Gospel says is, you can’t be good enough. The Pope, Mother Theresa, Billy Graham can’t be good enough. So certainly you ain’t good enough to get into Heaven on your own. 

Jesus stands up, and he preaches this message. And I need to remind you, in ancient Israel, at this moment, if you were to say that Jesus is King, it probably will cost you everything. It might cost you your life, and people in the crowd recognize, “Uh oh. I think this guy really may be the one, because we’ve been listening to his message, and nobody preaches like this rabbi does. We’ve watched his miracles, and I’ve seen miracles that are so spectacular, nobody can repeat those miracles. So surely there’s not going to be some other dude later who can do more than what I’m watching right now with my bare eyes.”

And now the crowd is placed in the same dilemma that you and I are placed in. Every time you hear phrase King Jesus, is he really King or not? -because if he’s king, that means he’s in charge. That means he rules, and he decides what happens next in my life. And if he’s not, then you’re the king (or queen, Ladies), and you get to decide what to do next. 

Do you know why we’re crazy about this process of producing leaders around here? It’s because we really want everyone to get to the point in their life where they realize Jesus really is my king. He really is my Lord. And from that moment forward, I no longer live my life after what I can get, and my glory and all of my good. I’m now living my life for Jesus’s glory, meaning I don’t want people to say great things about me or to hear good things about me. I want people to hear great things about Jesus.

My goal for the rest of your life as a follower of Jesus is to make Jesus famous. And John the Baptist says, the only way that’s possible is by me becoming less important, so that people can start to see that Jesus is more important. When you start to live your life for Jesus’s glory, instead of your own glory, you’re now on the path to becoming a powerful leader in somebody else’s life. Just an influence over somebody else who says, “Man, I see what she’s got, and I really want that,” or, “I’m watching the way that this guy is living, and he’s different than other people. I think I want what this guy has. I don’t even know what it is, but I think I want what this guy has.” 

Jesus is putting everybody in the crowd on the spot when he stands up and declares, “I am the living water, and if you come to me and only to me, I’m going to send you my Spirit, and my Spirit’s going to satisfy you at your deepest desires. And by the way, after my Spirit starts to satisfy you, all that you’re going to want is for more people to experience what you’ve experienced.” 

This is what the crowd is being challenged with, and this is what every single person reading this is being challenged with. Do you declare Jesus as Messiah? Is he King or not? If He is, then you and I live for his glory, not for our own. The crowd recognizes, the challenge in front of them, and you don’t get a chance to ride the fence on this. 

3. He sets the rules.  

But here’s the thing: The religious leaders also recognize it, and they are highly threatened by what’s going on. And so, they’re going to try to control the crowd, and control the country by controlling the rules that people live by. So listen to how John chapter seven ends when the religious leaders step in and do whatever they can to stop people from following Jesus, so that the people will follow them, instead of Jesus. 

You see, these religious leaders are trying to set rules that only the Holy Spirit should set in your life. No other man, no other woman, not even you should set the kind of rules over your life that the Holy Spirit sets. And these religious leaders, let’s just be honest, are playing God today. Here’s how John chapter seven ends:

John 7:45-52 Then the servants came to the chief priests and Pharisees, who asked them, “Why didn’t you bring him?” The servants answered, “No man ever spoke like this!” Then the Pharisees responded to them, “Are you fooled too? Have any of the rulers or Pharisees believed in him? But this crowd, which doesn’t know the law, is accursed.” Nicodemus—the one who came to him previously and who was one of them—said to them, “Our law doesn’t judge a man before it hears from him and knows what he’s doing, does it?” “You aren’t from Galilee too, are you?” they replied. “Investigate and you will see that no prophet arises from Galilee.”

Now I need us to mention a couple of weeks ago, the high priest and the religious leaders were so threatened by Jesus, that they sent out temple guards. It says servants, but they’re really the temple police force to go capture Jesus and to shut this rabbi down before anybody else starts to follow Him. The temple police go out to chase after Jesus. And now they’re going to come back. And the religious leaders are not happy by what happens next. 

We’re going to talk about Nicodemus in just a second. The religious leaders show up, and they’ve got a mission. The mission is to go arrest Jesus and bring him back in handcuffs. They go listen to Jesus, and they decide, “I ain’t arresting that guy. Now I’m going to be in big trouble with my boss when I go back and tell him, but I’ve heard what he has to say. And based on what I’ve heard, that rabbi is different. And if he has half the power that his messages sound like he has, I’m not touching him with a 10-foot pole.” 

And so the servants go back to the religious leaders. The religious leaders are going to try to control their own servants. They’re going to try to control the crowds. They basically tell the servants, “You guys are a bunch of morons because you are listening to Jesus’s message. We’re the smart people here. Why don’t you listen to us instead of listening to Jesus?”

And then they bring the crowds in and they say, “Hey, the crowds that are listening to and believing in Jesus are a curse.” If you don’t understand that phrase, it literally means we have pronounced judgment and they’re on their way to hell for believing in Jesus. These religious leaders have declared themselves judges over, get this, God himself. And they’re announcing anybody who disagrees with us, is a moron or accursed, and on their way to hell.

And there’s a religious leader in the crowd. Now they use the language like, “Look, all of us Pharisees agree that this guy can’t be the Son of God.” Well, that’s not true, because there’s one Pharisee in the crowd who’s already had a very intimate, very personal conversation with Jesus back in chapter three. And apparently, that conversation radically changed a brother by the name of Nicodemus. Nicodemus, the one who came to Jesus previously and who was one of the Pharisees said to them, “Our law doesn’t judge a man before it hears from him and knows what he’s doing, does it?” Nicodemus is going to try a judicial move here to get Jesus off the hook. “Hey listen, we can’t pronounce judgment without hearing it from the brother personally, and we haven’t heard it from the brother as a group of judges personally. So, how can we sit back and judge something that we haven’t heard personally?” And the religious leaders are going to try so hard to set the rules, that they’re going to shut Nicodemus, one of their own down now.

They say to Nicodemus, “You aren’t from Galilee too, are you?” In other words, “You’re not one of his boys, are you, Nicodemus?” They replied. Investigate and you will see that no prophet arises from Galilee. They are reading the Bible in such a way that if somebody doesn’t line up with the way that they interpret the Bible, then it can’t possibly be true. These religious leaders will do anything, stop at nothing to control the crowds. 

And let’s just be honest. There are priests, there are pastors, there are church leaders just like that today. -who want to call the shots in your life. And I need you to hear it from me firsthand. I will never, ever step into that role, because that’s a role that only the Holy Spirit of the living God can play. I don’t have the authority and I would be terrified if God did give me the kind of authority to try to set rules over your life like these Pharisees are trying to set rules over the life of people. 

Last Sunday, if you tuned in, and if you listened to our message last week, I tried to tell you what it feels like to live free. And here’s what I said; “You don’t have to listen to those religious leaders anymore. You don’t have to be hurt by those super judgmental, hypercritical hypocrites, that like to tell you what you’re supposed to do and what you’re not supposed to do. 

Now I need to give you the rest of the story. Here’s why, Church, you don’t have to listen to those voices anymore. -because if you get up in the morning and you open the Word, and you start to spend time with your Father in Heaven, if you get on your knees (and by the way, that’s figurative, not literal, but you can get on your knees literally, if you want) and you start to talk to Jesus and spend time praying to Jesus, if you are hearing from the Holy Spirit of the living God, then don’t listen to any other man or any other woman. Don’t let their voice become louder than the Holy Spirit’s voice. 

He sets the rules in your life. He sets the rules for this church. I don’t. I don’t even set the rules over my own life. I wouldn’t dare try to set rules over your life. That’s a role that only the Holy Spirit of the living God can make. You see, for us Christians, we should be willing to live so bold and so different, that other people stand up and take notice. And what they notice about us is, we’re free. We’re free from all of that guilt. We’re free from all of that shame. I don’t have to listen to other people giving me instructions on what they think I should and shouldn’t do. And the reason I don’t have to listen is because I’m already listening to the Holy Spirit, and that voice is supposed to drown out all the other voices in your life.