Ellen G. White Writings

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The Signs of the Times

July 23, 1896

“Come Unto Me, and Drink”

By Mrs. E. G. White

“In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.” The solemn and joyous ceremonies were carrying the people to the highest state of enthusiasm, when the clear, melodious voice of Jesus was heard among that immense throng of all classes and grades of society. Some, the priests and rulers, the scribes and Pharisees, were full of prejudice and bitterness. Some were scoffing, and some planning how they could compass the death of Christ; yet this great and wonderful ceremonial had been instituted by himself, and was a representation of his mission.

As Jesus looked upon that vast congregation, he read the heart sorrow beneath the outward display of joyous exultation. He saw many whose souls were parched as the desert, many overwearied by participation in the great ceremonial pointing to himself. How he longed to pour into their heart the current of his love! Many were almost fainting from weariness, but that voice, unlike any other, fell upon the ear in soothing accents, “If any man thirst,” for assurance of truth, for restful hope, for deliverance from sinful propensities, “let him come unto me, and drink.” He need not go to the priests or rabbis, but let him come unto me. “He that believeth on me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive; for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)” When he should ascend to the Father, then the Comforter which the Saviour promised to send would come. Jesus promised to manifest himself through the Holy Spirit to every individual who shall seek him and believe on him.

The attention of the people was arrested. That clear, penetrating voice conveyed his words to the farthest bounds of the congregation. What effect did they have?—“Many of the people therefore, when they heard this saying, said, Of a truth this is the Prophet. Others said, This is the Christ. But some said, Shall Christ come out of Galilee?” Unbelief arose in many minds, because they were reasoning upon false pretenses. In their ignorance they had received hearsay, and supposed that Jesus had been born in Galilee. But he was born in Bethlehem. Some of the priests and rulers would have taken him, but they dared not lay hands on him in so public a manner. The people were not of the same mind as the priests and rulers. The latter sent officers to take Jesus, and stop that voice which was awakening so great an interest in that immense gathering. The officers came into the Saviour's presence; they heard his words, they looked upon his face, and it was as if glorified. His words spoke directly to their hearts, and they forgot their errand, and returned without Jesus. The priests and rulers asked, “Why have ye not brought him?” The answer came promptly, “Never man spake like this man.”

It seemed to them that a halo of light was round about him, as tho he was surrounded by the glory of God. They stood in his presence filled with awe and reverence. Take him?—No; impressions were made on the minds of these hardened officers that were never effaced.

The Pharisees on first coming into the presence of Christ had felt all this reverence, all these convictions; their minds and hearts were deeply moved. With almost irresistible power the conviction was forced upon them that “never man spake like this man.” Had they yielded to the Spirit's influence, they would have received Jesus, and would have advanced from light to a greater light; but they wrapped their robes of self-righteousness about them, and trampled down the convictions of conscience. The Pharisees answered the officers with scorn and contempt: “Are ye also deceived? Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed on him? But this people who knoweth not the law are cursed.” Here was one who was the very foundation of the Jewish ceremonies, one who made the law, one who on Mount Sinai proclaimed the law, one who knew every phase and principle of the law. But he was unrecognized and unacknowledged by the leaders in Israel.

Nicodemus, who went to Christ by night, had received light. The lessons of Christ were as seed dropped into the heart, to spring up and bear fruit. A light had been kindled that would increase and shine brighter and brighter to the perfect day. The words of Nicodemus carried weight with the rulers and Pharisees; for he was chief ruler among the people, and stood high in the Sanhedrin. He said, “Doth our law judge any man, before it hear him, and know what he doeth?” They answered him with bitter derision, “Art thou also of Galilee? Search, and look; for out of Galilee ariseth no prophet.” Had he not been searching the prophecies? had he not heard Christ himself? He could have testified, with the officers sent to arrest Jesus, “Never man spake like this man.” The lesson given that night to Nicodemus was for him as a light shining in a dark place until the day dawn, and the day star arise in the heart. Who were the deceived ones?—The men who stifled conviction, who turned away their ears from hearing the truth, and were turned unto fables.

History is being repeated. In our day we meet the same false reasoning among the rulers and the ministers as the people met when Christ was upon the earth. We need to consider the words of Christ. “Take heed that no man deceive you.” The Jews were deceiving themselves. It was not because of a lack of light and evidence that Christ was not received, and believed, and honored as the Messiah; it was the malignity and jealousy and prejudice that bound so large a number with its cruel power. Minds clouded with prejudice, warped with envy and unholy passion, will not come to the word of God for their decision. Those who sat in Moses’ seat instilled into the minds of the people their false interpretations of Scripture. The truth was buried beneath their own doctrines and maxims and traditions. They taught the people that Christ was to appear as a great conqueror to break the Roman yoke from off the nation. They could not bring their proud hearts to believe the prophecies.

It was too humbling to their proud hearts to accept one who was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. They received that part of the prophecy which foretold one who was to shine before his ancients gloriously, who was to reign from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the earth. As there was no outward show of a conqueror in Jesus, they turned their faces from him, they resisted his words, and worked by every conceivable means to counteract his influence. Thus they fulfilled the very prophecy that pointed to him as a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.

Jesus did the works of God, healing the sick, feeding thousands by a miracle, treading the white-capped billows to reach his disciples in the tempest-tossed boat. When Peter, looking away from Jesus to the waves, was sinking, the cry of distress was heard “Lord save, or I perish.” That imploring cry reached the ears of him who is infinite in compassion. Jesus would save to the uttermost the poor, trembling, imperiled soul. In the night storm on the Sea of Galilee, Jesus was awakened by the cry of his disciples, “Master, carest thou not that we perish?” O, if at the beginning of the storm they had only awakened to the fact that Jesus was on board, they need not have worked so long with terror-stricken hearts! But when they cried to him for help, how quickly his word of power, “Peace, be still,” quieted the storm. Prophecy was fulfilling in all the events of the life of Christ, from the manger to the cross. The conviction is forced upon the unprejudiced student of the Bible that Jesus in human flesh is the only-begotten Son of the Father. He is that rock which was smitten in the desert by the rod of Moses, and from which streams of pure water gushed forth.

And on the last great day of the feast he addressed the weary, the homesick, sin-sick souls, many longing to understand the Lord and his ways, many disappointed and perplexed—to them comes the musical voice of invitation, clear, decided, positive, and with convincing power of love, “If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.”

As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so has the Son of man been lifted up, that whosoever looks unto him in faith, may not perish, but have everlasting life. Look to Jesus, uplifted on the cross. When the serpent was lifted upon the pole in the camp of Israel, the proclamation went forth that all who were bitten by the fiery serpents were to look to that brazen symbol; and whoever looked was immediately healed. The people were not to reason how this was possible, not to question wherein was the virtue to make them whole. They were to do exactly as they were bidden. Those who stopped to reason, died. Just so we are to look to Jesus; sinful, erring, weak, unworthy, we are to take the word of God, the invitation of Christ: “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart; and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

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