Today our reading is John 7.  Before you begin, know that it is a dialogue between Jesus and different groups of people.  Identify these groups as you read.  Also, note the confusion that swirls around in this chapter.  The  dialogue takes place during the Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem.  Let me share a little background about that particular feast before you read the chapter so that you can place yourself in the scene.

Feast of Tabernacles (or Booths or Ingathering) was one of the three pilgrimage feasts on the Jewish calendar.  That means that males 19 and older, living within a 15 – 20 mile radius of Jerusalem, were required by law to go the Jerusalem for the feast.  Others throughout Judea longed to be in Jerusalem for the celebration of the pilgrimage feasts.  (The others were Passover and Pentecost)  It takes place in the fall at the end of the autumn harvest.  So Jerusalem is packed to over-capacity at the time of chapter 7.  This feast lasted 7 days.  At some point commentators tell us it swelled to 8 days but we do not quite know when.  It was the most celebratory of the feasts … a pure joy. 

From the Holman NIV Commentary on John by Max Anders:

At the heart of the celebration was a daily rite which we need to be aware of in order to understand John 7.  Rabbinical literature tells us that each morning great multitudes gathered at the Temple of Herod, carrying a citrus fruit called an ethrog in their left hands.  In their right hands they carried a lulab, which was a combination of three trees – a palm, a willow, and a myrtle – emblematic of the stages of their ancestors’ journey through the wilderness.

Each morning the people would gather with the ethrog and the lulab.  The crowds followed the priest who carried a golden pitcher to the Pool of Siloam, chanting psalms and waving their lulabs in rhythm. As they approached the pool, the priest would dip his pitcher into the water and the people would say, “Therefore you will joyously draw water from the springs of salvation” (Isaiah 12:3). The crowd then marched back to the temple.  The priest who had led them circled the altar once, and with accompanying priests ascended to the platform, and poured out the water.

On the seventh day, the priest would circle the altar seven times in succession – as the people of Israel had encircled the walls of Jericho. …  It was considered the height of joy in a person’s life if he could see the water being poured out onto the altar.

Now … read John 7.

Notice a couple of things with me.  As Jesus is in dialogue with the visiting Jews as well as the Jewish religious leaders, He is challenged by three primary questions. 

  1. Where did He go to school and get His rabbinical training?  All rabbis taught referencing their teacher.  Yet Jesus never mentioned His teacher.  I understand this question.  As humans we want to know the credentials of our teachers, right?  Which school?  Is it a ranked school or a little community something?  Can you see the intellectual snobbery that surfaces? 

    Ever find yourself guilty of such snobbery?  Jesus’ answer to the challenge:  God taught me.
  2. Where did He come from?  After all, Nazareth was just some little back water place … certainly incapable of producing a prominent rabbi.  It’s in Galilee, for heavens sake!  Can you see geographical snobbery surfacing?  Ever been guilty of such thinking?  Just think about our own country … north vs south … Texas vs the rest of you :) … and within each state there is the urban vs the rural.  Then move into the international arena.  How human to think that way.  Jesus answer to the challenge: I came from God.
  3. Where is He going?  Jesus had said that they could not go where He was going.  In their flesh state of mind they began trying to figure out where that was.  The conclusion was that He must be going to the Gentiles … there is no way Jews would go there!  Can you see ethnic snobbery surfacing?  Ever been guilty of that?  Are there peoples that you will have no part of?  Peoples you feel “better than”?  Jesus’ answer to the challenge:  I am going to God.

The second thing I want you to notice in this chapter is verses 37 – 39.  Think about what we learned about the Feast of Tabernacles … it is the autumn harvest.  Water is on every mind.  It is getting scarce.  Cisterns are low.  Springs are running low.  Hills are turning brown.  The water ceremony at the great altar at the Temple is on every mind.  They want to see that water being poured out!

So here is Jesus and He calls out to crowds what He is still calling out to all who will listen:  “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink.  Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” 

Are you thirsty?  Are you longing for satisfaction in your life?  Are you tired of feeling parched and needy?  There is only one place where it can be found … and that place is the source of life … that place is the person of Jesus, Messiah and Christ.  He said “Come” on the last, great day of the Feast of Tabernacles … and He still says “Come” to you and I. 

Have you?  Will you? 

Lord, help us make our “coming” to You be a daily renewal.    We are so easily side-tracked.  We know that we cannot live without water.  We cannot make it through one day without water.  Through Your Spirit, Lord, give us eyes to see on a spiritual level … we cannot make it through one day without You!  So, today, I recommit to the daily taking of Your life into myself.  I want streams of living water to flow from me on all those around me … beginning in my home.  I know You are faithful to Your promises … and so, I come.