Reader: “ ”
Response: “ ”
Scripture: John 7:37-39
On the last day, the climax of the festival, Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’” (When he said “living water,” he was speaking of the Spirit, who would be given to everyone believing in him. But the Spirit had not yet been given, because Jesus had not yet entered into his glory.)
Reader: “The word of the Lord.”
Response: “Thanks be to God.”
Once again, context is everything in understanding the impact of what Jesus did in what you just read. The Feast of Tabernacles was one of the three major pilgrimage feasts for the Jews. The population of Jerusalem had swelled considerably with massive crowds in attendance. The feast was an eight day celebration with messianic implications. Each day of the feast there was a processional water ceremony in which there was a prayer to God to send rain in the late autumn. On this final eighth day, the ceremony was repeated seven times. Water was brought in a golden pitcher and poured on the altar as the Levites sang Is.12:3 “With joy you will drink deeply from the fountain of salvation!”
There are three types of water sources in Israel. A cistern which collects rainwater during the rainy season. In these large stone caverns the water can become stagnant and contaminated. A second type are wells which are more valuable except they can dry up in a drought. The most valuable water source are the brooks and rivers which are fed by springs. They are known in the Bible as “living water” in other words, water with movement. They are not subject to drought or stagnation.
When Jesus on this last day of the festival shouted to the crowds, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to me. Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.” In his reference to “living water” Jesus was speaking of the Holy Spirit who was yet to be given to the people. He was hearkening to the day of Pentecost, yet in the future. But it was also a clear call to come to the Messiah. This “living water” of the Holy Spirit would never dry up.
Ancient Jewish theology connected the water drawing ceremony with the Holy Spirit. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit was related to salvation. This theme was often repeated among the prophets and was commonly understood by the people. Jesus made this exact connection in this passage. As with the woman at the well, Jesus offered “living water” of salvation that man’s spiritual thirst may be eternally quenched. The people were very quick to pick up Jesus’ messianic claim by his response. We see here once again an example of Jesus fulfilling the Jewish festivals and fulfilling the law perfectly. When you look at the seven primary festivals, we find Jesus completing each one to the fullest.
Music: “With Joy You Will Draw Water from the Wells of Salvation” Donaldian Ensemble
Lord Jesus, give to me the living water that I may never thirst again. Amen.