One hot summer day when I was in high school, I was stacking and unloading bales of hay when I stopped sweating. I felt nauseous, had a headache and tried to quench the insatiable thirst that came from being severely dehydrated.
It’s essential for human beings to get enough fluids into our bodies. But no matter how much we drink at a given time, it’s impossible to permanently quench our physical thirst.
This reality makes these words of Jesus all the more startling: “He who believes in Me shall never thirst.” (John 6:35) Jesus spoke figuratively, utilizing a physical description to explain spiritual realities.
“Thirst” here describes awareness of our spiritual need for relationship with God that is unmet because of our rebellion against Him. The prophet Isaiah declared that “your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God…” (Isaiah 59:2) This “thirst” is unrecognized because we are adept at denying and distracting ourselves from it.
We chase fame, fortune, and fun, experiencing some level of temporary satisfaction that always leaves us longing for more. We either continue deluding ourselves into believing that the fulfillment we long for is just beyond our grasp and within our human efforts to provide—or we finally accept Jesus’ invitation that “whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst.” (John 4:14)
This invitation for permanent, spiritual satisfaction is given to “everyone who thirsts” (Isaiah 55:1). Our thirst is permanently quenched by “drinking the water” which Jesus offers. This means entering into a right relationship with God involving three steps.
First is our realization that alienation from God leaves us thirsty—unfulfilled. This is the embrace of Augustine’s statement, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.” To rest we must be right with God, which requires turning from sin.
The second step is our repentance, enabling forgiveness. “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts and let him return to the Lord… for He will abundantly pardon.” (Isaiah 55:7) To be right with God we must turn from sin and trust the Savior.
Finally, our reliance upon/belief in Jesus’ death as the payment we deserve for our sin and His resurrection as proof that death was conquered (1 Corinthians 15:3-4,20).
The one “who believes” (John 6:35) enjoys pardon from sin (Romans 4:25; 5:1,8-10), enters possession of eternal life (John 6:47), and experiences the presence of the Holy Spirit (John 7:37-39a) resulting in permanent satisfaction within.
Thirst no longer, but trust Christ as Savior.