Lesson 43

The Gospel of John

World English Bible translation

 Today's Scripture

7:37 Now on the last and greatest day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink! 7:38 He who believes in me, as the scripture has said, from within him will flow rivers of living water." 7:39 But he said this about the Spirit, which those believing in him were to receive. For the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus wasn't yet glorified.

 Today's Lesson

Chapter 7 began with Jesus going to Jerusalem for the Feast of Booths following a conversation that He had with His brothers. The Feast of Booths (or alternately the Feast of Tabernacles) was one of three holy days for Jews who sought to keep the covenant that God had made with His people. The other two were Passover and Pentecost. For these three Feasts, adult males who lived within fifteen miles of Jerusalem were required to attend. As a significant religious event, there were many rituals that had developed surrounding the gatherings of the people. It became a time of passing down history and continuing culture.


The Feast of Booths had a dual significance to the people of Jesus' day. It was an agricultural celebration of the harvest. In this sense it was similar to the American holiday of Thanksgiving. God has blessed us so we will thank Him for His abundance, or perhaps, the harvest was not quite so good and we will entreat God to bless our next crop. But, there was also an historical element to the Feast of Booths.


The people were to construct temporary shelters and to live in them for the weeklong feast days. These booths (or tabernacles) were to be newly constructed and one was suppose to be able to see the stars through the thatched roofing. These booths sprung up on roofs and public areas throughout the city during the feast. The idea behind these displays was to remind the people that they were once a nomadic people before God had given them the Promised Land. Not only did the patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac and Jacob) not have a land of their own, but God had also led the people out of slavery and into the wilderness wanderings. They must never forget that God had protected them and provided for them during their wanderings.


Now, one of the rituals that had developed around this feast bears on our scripture today. Each day of the feast, there was a procession from the Pool of Siloam (one of the main sources of water for the city of Jerusalem) to the temple. A priest would fill a golden pitcher and lead a procession through the streets to the Temple. They would chant and sing psalms and lead the people to the Temple with this special water. When the procession arrived at the temple, the worshippers would wave palm branches as the priest poured the water on the altar in a dramatic fashion. On the last and greatest day, the procession would march around the altar seven times in memory of the seven times that the people marched around the walls of the city of Jericho.


Now, the people were instructed that this water-pouring ceremony had a dual significance. It was a petition to God that He bring rain and abundance to an arid land. It was also a remembrance of the water that God had given them in their wanderings as a people. Moses caused the water to spring from rocks by striking it with his staff. It was this water that God provided for the people that was celebrated.


It was against this backdrop that Jesus stood and cried out, "If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink! He who believes in me, as the scripture has said, from within him will flow rivers of living water." Whether He made this statement at the time of the ceremony of just within its context, it is a bold statement. It is the equivalent of saying that the water that Moses gave to the people in the wilderness is still available. If anyone comes to me, I will fill him with this water from God.


Now, the living water that Jesus spoke of is the Spirit of God that is given to those whom God entrusts Himself. And, this water is not meant just for them, for Jesus said that from them will come rivers of water. They will become a source for life in an arid world. God, through them, would touch many people.


This is the offer of the Son of God. From you, rivers of living water can flow forth that will encounter all those that your life touches. Are you willing to have the Spirit of God flow through you to touch other people? Are you willing to be filled with the living water of God?


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