Idiotic Stuff Jesus Said 4: Rivers Of Living Water

Or more precisely: Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them (John 7.38).

WoundMe: What does this even mean, this ‘rivers of living water’ stuff?

Christian: It’s a metaphor. Jesus means it symbolically.

Me: Symbolically, how? A metaphor for what exactly?

Christian: The wonderful life-giving message that is the gospel.

Me: Which gospel? Jesus’s or Paul’s?

Christian: Oh, you’re splitting hairs. They’re one and the same.

Me: They most certainly aren’t, but we’ll let that pass for now. So by ‘living waters’ you mean that death-obsessed, rag-bag of negativity that fails to deliver in any way? (See all previous posts).

Christian: Well, I wouldn’t put it quite like that, but when one is reborn of the Spirit, then this wonderful feeling takes hold of you. That’s what we mean by ‘living waters’.

Me: I see. So all it comes down to is how good it makes you feel inside. ‘Living waters’ is just a metaphor for feeling good.

Christian: Oh, no, it’s more than that. It’s the Love that compels us to share the good news with others – that’s really what Jesus means by rivers of living waters.

Me: So banging on about hell and how the world is doomed (because, you know, gay people) and how only you know the Truth, is letting your love flow, is it? Is that what we see on sites like this, and this and this? Living waters of love? Or running sores of bile?

Christian: Well, those sites and those people aren’t representative of true Christians.

Me: That’s funny. They say the same about you.

Christian: Now you’re being unfair.

Me: And what’s more, there’s no reference to ‘rivers of living water’ flowing inside people anywhere else in ‘Scripture’. That’s another bit of made-up nonsense.

Christian: Oh, no, you’re mistaken about that. You must be. Jesus wouldn’t get a thing like that wrong.

Me: You know, maybe none of you have rivers of living water sloshing around inside you. Maybe this is just another of those idiotic things Jesus said, or was made to say about a hundred years after he lived, that means absolutely nothing at all.

Christian: Ma! He’s persecuting me.


5 thoughts on “Idiotic Stuff Jesus Said 4: Rivers Of Living Water

  1. Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life. Proverbs 4:23

    The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence. Proverbs 10:11

    The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life, turning a person from the snares of death. Proverbs 13:4

    The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, turning a person from the snares of death. Proverbs 14:27

    The words of a man’s mouth are deep waters; The fountain of wisdom is a bubbling brook. Proverbs 18:4

    Discretion is a life-giving fountain to those who possess it, but discipline is wasted on fools. Proverbs 20:5

    With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. Isaiah 12:3

    For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour my Spirit upon your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants. Isaiah 44:3

    The LORD will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. Isaiah 58:11

    Also note Ezekiel 47 with the understanding that Jesus equated Himself the Temple. Clearly Jesus did not pull the metaphor out of thin air as you claim. Before building up a straw man argument why not do a little research first? You are right that much of what Jesus said is challenging and uncomfortable. That does not make His words idiotic. It proves us fallen and in need of His grace.


    • Well done pulling all those mentions of fountains and stuff from the OT. They’re not saying the same as Jesus is made to say, but since when does that matter? We’ll damn well make ’em fit, won’t we! Full marks for trying there, Mr tworivers.


  2. “And what’s more, there’s no reference to ‘rivers of living water’ flowing inside people anywhere else in ‘Scripture’. That’s another bit of made-up nonsense.”

    Actually, there is. As I have shown. Wisdom, discretion, truth, and the Spirit are all likened to rivers that flow out of a man from either the mouth or the heart. The symbolism for what Jesus has said had been well established from the Tanakh. Jesus wasn’t just making up nonsense completely unconnected with reality. That, my friend, is exactly what you are doing.

    Any contemporary listener who heard this proclamation would understand exactly what he was saying both from their scripture, the context of the Temple and the festival in which it is said, and in the context of the discussion in which it is made.

    You are grasping at straws here. Yes, much of what Jesus said is difficult. It was meant to be. It is meant to change hearts and minds and to institute not just a new kingdom but a new way of understanding just what kingdom means. Some of what he said confused his contemporaries because he was creating a different context than those they were used to. But none of what Jesus said was idiotic.


  3. ‘Scripture’, as in the Tanakh, does not say that these rivers of living water come from believing in Jesus. What is happening here is that John has his version of Jesus read himself back into ‘scripture’ in order to make this claim. You do the same. This, though, is not a legitimate use of the earlier statements; they are not prophecies.

    Much of what Jesus said was, as you concede, difficult. It could also be obscure, uncharitable, irrational, nonsensical and pure invention on the part of the gospel writers, especially John (see my next post). Ultimately, if what Jesus said was designed, as you suggest, to prepare people for the coming Kingdom, it was also spectacularly ineffective; the Kingdom conspicuously failed to materialise when he said it would. I’m pretty sure that qualifies as idiotic.


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