Jesus, on the most important day of Jewish Festival of Tabernacles, stands up and makes quite an announcement (a promise). He shouts, Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.
Jesus wasn’t nuts. He was serious. But what did he mean? That’s quite a promise (via analogy) to a desert people.
Dallas Willard, in his Book, The Spirit Of The Disciplines, gets at this a bit. He writes:
We can become like Christ in character and in power and thus realize our highest ideals of well-being and well-doing. That is the heart of The New Testament message. Do you believe this is possible?
Willard goes on to layout the groundwork for folks to achieve this, highlighting that it’s not, as many have suspected, impossible, or some future event. Jesus expected his followers to become like him, and to start right now. Rivers of living water was an entirely new life – and an easier one than trying to save ourselves – which can’t be done. Jesus said,
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
A yoke is the thing that’s put around Oxen when plowing. Jesus is encouraging people to change yolks, to bind to him, to learn from him – to put their lives fully in His capable hands. Theologian Gordon Fee puts it this way (I’m paraphrasing from an audio series), Our current yoke of this life is chaffing and causing us to bleed and blister. It’s the wrong yoke. It doesn’t fit right. Jesus says change yokes – put on my yoke – it’s the only one you’ll ever need.
The promise is extraordinary.
Thanks for reading,
~ Ted Olson