Rivers of Living Water – John Chapter 7
Being the youngest of four children, things did not always work harmoniously between us. My two brothers would tell me that I was spoilt, and delighted in teasing me and belittling me. I was left out of their games, because I was too small and could not play cricket very well. I could not climb as they could, and I was just a hindrance. I held them back from doing what they wanted to do. I was a whiney, grizzly little boy who just got in the way.
In chapter 7 of John’s gospel we read that Jesus spent time in Galilee because it was a bit dangerous in Judea because the Jewish leaders wanted to get him. As the Feast of Tabernacles approached, his brothers said to him “Depart from here and go into Judea that your disciples also may see the works that You are doing.” This wasn’t kindly advice. There was cynicism in their tone! “Show Yourself to the world!” Even his brothers did not believe in Him. One can understand their attitude. How would you like to have someone who never did anything wrong as your older brother. “Why don’t you behave like Jesus does?” or “Why do you keep getting into trouble. Jesus never does!” or “Why don’t you do your homework like Jesus does?” I expect they got quite fed up with living with a perfect brother. Jesus was thirty at least, so they were likely in their twenties, but they still had these hang-ups from their childhood. How did Jesus reply? He did not reply with bitterness in his tone, or with anger or impatience. “My time has not yet come.” He was not yet ready to go. They could go. They had nothing to fear, the world did not hate them, like they hated Jesus. “I am not yet going up to this feast, for My time has not yet fully come.”
Jesus Teaches at the Feast
After his brothers had set off for Jerusalem, Jesus himself also went. He went quietly and unobtrusively. The Jewish leaders were on the lookout for Him. Then, midway through the procedures, Jesus went up to the temple to teach. People were amazed at the words He spoke – “How does this man know letters, having never studied?” Jesus replied with wisdom, giving God the Father the glory. “My doctrine is not Mine, but His who sent Me.” He then goes on to say that anyone who commits himself to God’s will, he will know Jesus is speaking the truth. Then He turns it around and says to them “Did not Moses give you the law, yet none of you keeps the law? Why do you seek to kill Me?” The one thing these Jewish Leaders thought they could get against Jesus was His attitude to the Sabbath day. The Ten Commandments state that they were to keep the Sabbath holy and do no work, but over the centuries Jewish rabbis had added to the law many extra oral traditions, and in their mind healing somebody was classified as ‘work’. As Jesus continued to teach, many people professed to follow Him. “But look! He speaks boldly, and they say nothing to Him. Do the rulers know indeed that this is truly the Christ?” But some doubted: “We know where this Man is from; but when the Christ comes, no one knows where He is from.” Jesus then ‘cried out’ in the Temple “You know Me and where I am from.” He then says that He is sent by Him who is true, whom they do not know! The leaders were very angry, and wanted to arrest Him, but feared the people, who said “When the Christ comes, will He do more signs than these?”
The Last Day of the Feast
Jesus again stood up and addressed the crowd. He has something very important to say! “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink” (verse 37). This reminds us of the event in chapter 4 where Jesus spoke with the woman at the well of Sychar. Jesus wants to give us ‘Living Water.’ He goes on to say “He who believes in Me, as the scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” But this He spoke concerning the Holy Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive. Every human being has a need – he is thirsty. We need to drink regularly if we are to remain alive, and the same is true spiritually. We need to be saved from the consequences of sin and from the power of sin. This can only happen if we turn away from our sinful life, and receive Jesus. We will then receive forgiveness to restore our relationship with God, and we will receive the Holy Spirit who will revolutionise our lives. The picture Jesus paints here is very vivid. Just as a spring bubbles up and overflows, becomes a stream and then a river, so the Holy Spirit in us will bubble up and overflow, affecting the environment around us and providing refreshment for those within our social group who are thirsty. Yes, we can affect our neighbourhood!
Unfortunately the truth very often brings division! Some will believe and receive it, while others will react strongly against it. The Pharisees and chief priests thought it was about time that Jesus was arrested, so they sent officers to get him (verse 32). When they go there, they were impressed by the conduct and conversation of Jesus. They were amazed how He dealt with those who argued with Him. Maybe they saw some miracles, and noticed how gentle He was with those that needed help. It seems they were more honest and open than the officials who sent them. They decided they could not arrest this Man. When they returned without Jesus, the officials said “Why have you not brought Him?” Their response was “No man ever spoke like this Man!” The Pharisees said “Are you also deceived?” (verses 54 – 47). The question I ask is, “Who are the ones deceived?”
An interesting post script: the Pharisees were not as knowledgeable as they thought they were. They said “No prophet has arisen out of Galilee.” Jonah was from Gath-Hepher – a small border town in ancient Israel (Galilee) (2 Kings 14 v 25).