Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Notes on John 7

John 7 has come up twice in the past week, so I guess I should blog about it. (How's that for an introduction?)

But what to say? The first time was at Bible study and I had read John Calvin’s commentary.

Here is one excerpt that I noted:

On verse 7, Calvin remarks,“When he says that the world cannot hate them, he reproves them for being altogether carnal” If this is a correct observation, it is fairly convicting. Obviously our "righteousness" pales in comparison to Christ’s standard, but the Bible instructs us in leaving behind our carnality. How? The example Christ gives here is that of avoiding “friendship” with the world by condemning the sinful lifestyles of the people present. Do we approve of the sin around us by keeping silent?

Other than that, the verses that everyone seems to quote are 37 and 38. "...If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him."

This is a beautiful passage of Scripture, but the drawback to its being quoted often is that in looking at it I have almost no initial reaction. And I have trouble understanding whom this is addressed to. Looking at the original context, we see that Jesus was addressing a crowd, among whom there were were mixed reactions upon hearing his words. Some people did seem impressed, but no one ran right up and asked for Jesus to quench his thirst.

So what is our response to be? When I read passages like this that are invitations, I often think, “But Lord, I’ve already come. You called and I answered. I’ve already made that decision. I’m not one of the thirsty ones who haven’t found You.”

Calvin says about verse 38, “to come is nothing else than to believe, at least, if you define accurately the word believe; as we have already said that we believe in Christ, when we embrace him as he is held out to us in the Gospel, full of power, wisdom, righteousness, purity, life, and all the gifts of the Holy Spirit.”

Have I really embraced all of that? Have I claimed it for this specific day, not just in a general sense? When I read further about the living water of the Holy Spirit, I’m not certain that it’s flowing in me. That is, I believe the words of Christ, but I don’t necessarily feel the effect. The Holy Spirit may already be in me, but I need to be refreshed, or perhaps simply be made aware of it moving in me.

Calvin remarks on verse 39, “We are destitute of all the sap and moisture of life, unless when the Spirit of God quickens us, and when he waters us, as it were, by secret vigor” (that doesn't seem like a complete sentence, but I'm quoting it correctly)

I may not be thirsty as a new Christian is thirsty, but I have certainly felt ‘destitute’ and in need of ‘secret vigor.’ And that refreshing of the Holy Spirit is something that Christ offers us here as believers.

I’m not trying to claim something doctrinal about the Holy Spirit, but I want to understand this whole passage in context. It’s nice to imagine lovely things like waterfalls, but Scripture holds more power than simply pleasant imagery. Following Christ is not about good feelings. It’s about your life being transformed.

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