John 7:37–39: “On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.”
Note that John is a theologian who is doing more than producing a biography of our Lord. In presenting the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29), John interprets Jesus’ statement from verses 37–38 in verse 39. We notice that Jesus “cried out” (cf. John 7:28) in keeping with the prophetic emphasis in Isaiah 58:1. Christ has indicted this audience for its homicidal intent in v. 19, but He doesn’t just bring the bad news of guilt without offering a remedy for sin. In part, with His statement of “where I go, you cannot come” (v. 34), He implies a warning, but it is significant that Christ would invite ‘thirsty’ sinners to Himself in this setting. On the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles, the people would get water from the Pool of Siloam so it could be poured on the temple’s altar prior to a sacrifice. As the Incarnate Son who ‘dwells’ or ‘tabernacles’ with us per John 1:14, Jesus stands stand in the very temple that symbolizes how God dwells with sinners and invites sinners to come to Him. If that doesn’t illustrate mercy, grace, kindness, and goodness, I don’t know what would. How would you respond to an audience that sent temple cops to try to capture and execute you? I am not convinced I would stand up, preach the gospel, and invite these people into the kingdom of heaven. I can’t say with absolute certainty that I have that kind of compassion or kindness, but our Saviour does. He is glorious and wonderful. And in a case where the people are pouring water as part of the feast’s symbolism, He speaks metaphorically about the spiritual thirst associated with rebellion and sin against God. If we understand that God is holy, and we are not, how will we ever breach the chasm and stand as sinful people in the presence of a holy God? Jesus offers Himself to us here. “If anyone thirsts, let Him come to me and drink.” It’s a pretty simple thing, isn’t it? Sometimes, the Christian church makes salvation complicated, hard, and tough. This is not what Jesus does. “I should go home and pray for a new heart.” No, you should come to the Saviour and simply say, “I am thirsty, Lord.” “I’ve been taught that I should stay away until I make sure it hurts and that I have this misery.” No, an ounce of misery is enough misery. If you have buckets of misery, great; but there’s no requirement in scripture to have buckets of misery before coming to the Saviour for His relieving grace. We are masters at evading the gospel’s clarity: whether it be hyper-Calvinism, Arminianism, popery, or whatever attempt we may propose to avoid the very clear statements of our Lord.
The reality is that we are ‘thirsty’ – that is, we are sinful and rebellious transgressors who do not conform to God’s law. And yet, the Spirit of God comes to convict, open our eyes, and to cause us to see our need for that blessed relief through the Saviour. Church, this is why we need to pray for the Holy Spirit’s ministry each and every Sunday to accompany the preached word. If the Holy Spirit doesn’t come, men will continue in their blindness, rebellion, and rejection of the Saviour. They might tip their heads and say, “I kind of see what he’s saying there and I appreciate it on one level but I still like my sin, life, filth, and wickedness.” Brethren, the Lord Jesus Christ makes it as plain as day: “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink.” This builds on the metaphor used in Isaiah 55:1. It’s not like we have a new era of redemptive benefit when Yahweh of Israel says the same thing to the children of Israel in the Old Covenant.
You may ask the question: why aren’t you coming and believing? Why aren’t I looking to Him and living when that’s what a person with any semblance of a brain would do? Because the “cannot come to me” ought to terrify us all and paralyze us with the fear that we’ll be cut off on that last day and banished to everlasting destruction. “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb. 10:31). What does this mean? It is the opposite of beatitude, the converse of blessing: it means curse, wrath, and justice. I know of the effort to rid the Bible of everlasting punishment through the doctrines of annihilationism or conditional immortality. Scripture is clear: hell is not the cessation of being, but the cessation of well-being. The infinite God punishes sinners infinite. Yes, this should terrify you, and yes, I’m going for that angle so that you, by grace, will look to this One who says, “If any of you thirst, come to me and drink.” Don’t say, “Wow, I’m so thirsty, sinful, wretched, and abhorrent.” Flee to the remedy. Go to the Blessed Saviour. We’d never look idly at somebody standing by a fountain of water complaining of being thirsty, parched, hot, spent, and weary. We’d tell him to put his mouth underneath that faucet, drink the water in, receive it, and delight in it. So it is with the gospel.
 Jim Butler, “The Feast of Tabernacles, Part 4,” accessed September 29, 2022, https://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=9422193975410.