“If any one thirst, let him come to me and drink.”
What does it mean to come and drink? Jesus is not with us in a visible or tangible way. Therefore, he cannot be approached geographically, as he could be when on the earth. Coming to Jesus must be an act of the heart.
What then is this soul-drinking? We say sometimes as we stand before some scene of beauty that we are drinking it in; or changing the metaphor slightly, we say our eyes are feasting on it. What do we mean? We mean that we have put ourselves in a position to behold the beauty. We affirm its worth, and we give ourselves up to it to be affected by it. In that way we drink in the scene.
So it is with Jesus. We first put ourselves in a position to behold him clearly. Since he is not here this is always done through his Word. Jesus said, “The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life” (John 6:63). We meet the life-giving Jesus today in his Word, and when he calls us to come and drink, it is His words to which we come. His word as written and as revealed in creation. Not the traditions of men. Not the commentaries, the books and the many otherwise helpful “words”. Scripture, the words of Jesus Christ alone carry the living water.
When our gaze is fixed on his Word, we say, “Yes,” to all that it is. We do not dispute its beauty or call it unreal. We affirm its worth, and we give ourselves to it unreservedly to be affected by it. We rest in the certainty that here is truth that will not leave us empty.
What Jesus means by drinking is the same thing he means by believing or trusting. After he says, “Come to me and drink,” in verse 37, he immediately says, “He who believes in me.” He could have said, “He who drinks from me.” The clearest evidence for this is found in John 6:35, where Jesus says, “He who believes in me shall never thirst.”
Therefore, the essence of drinking the Word of Jesus is trusting it, banking on it. But the reverse is true, too. The essence of believing in Jesus is finding in him the satisfaction of our deepest soul-thirst. Drinking is believing; believing is drinking.