1 Samuel 13:23-14:52, John 7:30-53, Psalm 109:1-31, Proverbs 15:5-7
“’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’” (Jn. 7:38).
Jesus spoke these words on the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles. The Expositor’s Bible Commentary of John tells us that this feast was a established as “a memorial to the wandering in the wilderness, where water and food were scarce. When the people emerged from the desert into the land of Canaan, they enjoyed regular rainfall and plentiful crops” (pg. 86). The priests would draw water from the Pool of Siloam and pour it out upon the altar while the people recited Isaiah 12:3 –“With joy you will draw waters from the wells of salvation.” For seven days the Israelites were to feast and then, on the last day, the Israelites were to make sacrifice for their sins.
Knowing this background information really helps us understand and appreciate Jesus’ statement in John 7:38 all the more. He is drawing off of practices and imagery the Jews had done for hundreds of years, redefining those practices in light of who he is as the Messiah. He knows how his audience will interpret his words. He is saying that now he is the promised land and now he is their salvation.
And in fact, his listeners do understand the significance of what he is saying. “’Surely this man is a prophet.’ Others said, ‘He is the Christ’” (vs. 40-41). They comprehend the full measure of his words and actions as paralleling the salvation of the Israelites from the desert wanderings to the land of Canaan. But will they accept him? Or will they, like the generations so long before them, not really be able to enjoy all the benefits of the promised land and salvation because of their unbelief?
“Whoever believes in me…streams of living water will flow from within him. By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive” (vs. 38, 39). Jesus’ message to the Israelites that day at the end of the Feast of Tabernacles is the same as it is to us today. Will we accept him? Will we believe him?
Does the Spirit of God live and move and flow from within me? How do I even know?
I must look for the results of living water flowing in my life, that is, the fruit of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (see Gal. 5:22). We have the Spirit. I will say it again because it is good news: we have the Spirit! If we believe in Jesus as the sacrificial lamb for our sins, we have this Spirit and these streams of living water within us. Let us keep in step with the Spirit. Let us walk according to what we have been given. We don’t have to thirst anymore; we have the living water. We don’t have to wander around looking for salvation; we have been redeemed.
Thank you, Lord, that you always make a way for your people to walk in freedom and fullness of life. Jesus, we accept your sacrifice. Holy Spirit, flow through us. Be living water that revitalizes every part of us until your peace and joy and love shine forth in every aspect of our lives.
- Mary Matthias
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