The Four Faces of Jesus: The Arrival of Living Waters (Part 1) (3-12-17)

As cold water to a weary soul, so is good news from a far country” (Proverbs 25:25).

The period of time before the arrival of Jesus of Nazareth was a tumultuous one for the Jewish nation. Rome ruled the known world with an iron fist and the corrupt Herod the Great governed Judea. Revolutionary underground groups such as the Zealots only added to the instability of peace between Rome and Judea. Without doubt, this turbulent atmosphere amplified their desire of the fulfillment of God’s promise regarding the coming of the Messiah. For the Jew, the restoration of King David’s throne was long overdue. However, their grave mistake was to interpret the Messianic Prophecies quite literally, especially those referring to the return of a king. It was this fatal flaw that disallowed them to accept Jesus as the prophesied Messiah. The idea of the son of a carpenter to be the man who would return Israel to its full glory was “to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness” (1st Corinthians 1:23). In his letter to the church in Corinth, the apostle Paul reveals to them the necessity of learning to see things with spiritual eyes and not carnal ones. All of the promises made by Jehovah God before the coming of the Messiah were fulfilled exactly as He had manifested through His prophets. The fulfillment of these promises could only be enjoyed by those who used their eyes of faith and not of the flesh because “we walk by faith, not by sight” (2nd Corinthians 5:7). This revelation that the Messiah had finally arrived was “cold water” for the souls of those who accepted Jesus as such. The proverb above illustrates the power of “good news” to arrive during a bitter experience. Indubitably, as the proverb describes, it becomes very refreshing to receive positive feedback amid the domineering sorrow. Interestingly, the apostle Paul boldly teaches that this is what Jesus was (and is) for those who embrace Him as the Messiah. Once more, in his first address to the Corinthians, the apostle writes “I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you – unless you believed in vain” (1st Corinthians 15:1-2). The Greek word used by the inspired apostle at the beginning of this passage is euangelion (evangelion is the English transliteration) and is defined by the lexicographers as “a reward for good tidings” or “good tidings” (Thayer, G2098). Therefore, our word gospel in Greek Koine means good news. Hence the connection between our proverb from the beginning and Paul’s bold revelation to the church in Corinth. The arrival of God’s Chosen One (the meaning of Messiah) brought forth the “water out of the wells of salvation” (Isaiah 12:3). If we recall, the Master used this similar imagery in His conversation with the Samaritan woman at the well. When she questioned His motive for asking a drink of water from her, Jesus proclaims “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water” (John 4:10). The verbiage used by our Lord was meant to jog the Samaritan woman’s memory of what the prophets of old spoke concerning the Messiah. He begins His allusion by making her aware of her own ignorance of what (rather who) “the gift of God” was. In a previous conversation, the Master revealed to Nicodemus that “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son” (John 3:16a). Because Jesus is the gift of God” to all of mankind, only He is able to offer “cold water to a weary soul.” In an effort to elaborate a bit more upon the Master’s lesson, an analogy that could be applied is the unexpected bonus a person receives from work when they needed it the most. That sensation of relief, joy, and gratitude that springs forth within the heart and washes away all worry is why Jesus is prophesied as the “living waters [that] shall flow from Jerusalem, half of them toward the eastern sea and half of them toward the western sea; in both summer and winter it shall occur” (Zechariah 14:8). The concept of presenting the Messiah as “living water” is truly magnificent when we analyze the condition of man before God without Him. Truly, the apostle Paul was wise in meticulously selecting his words in describing the impact of Jesus for humanity. Indisputably, to know that “there is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit” is a refreshing thought that eases the soul (Romans 8:1). Observe the emphasis this article’s author has placed within this pericope. The apostle makes the joyous exclamation that “now” mankind has the solution for eternal death. This is important to understand because it highlights the condition of man before the arrival of the Messiah. The Holy Spirit, through Paul, is manifesting that humanity was at odds with God because “we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath” (Ephesians 2:3). When asked to illustrate wrath, the most common symbol applied by artists and poets is that of a burning fire. This is very likely the same description the inspired apostle is utilizing in this passage. Due to our enslavement from sin, we were burning in our lustful desires and that fire was eating away at our souls. Man’s fall at Eden immediately prompted the need of a law since we “would not have known sin except through the law” (Romans 7:7). The predicament was that this law could not produce God’s saving grace because “no one is justified by the law in the sight of God” (Galatians 3:11). How then could man subdue the destructive, burning fire sin had provoked upon their hearts? Enter Jesus, God’s gift to man. Only He could produce in those who accept Him as their Savior “as the Scripture has said, out of his heart…rivers of living water” (John 7:38). To know He arrived to repair the torn relationship between God and man is without a doubt a refreshing, cold cup of water for the thirsty soul. This good news was exactly what the world needed in a time it was burning from violence. It was so important for all of humanity to hear this message, that four men were chosen by Him to spread it to the four corners of the earth so that no man would be left behind. To be continued…

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