Of the Spirit (part 2)
Jesus made an amazing promise in John 7:37-38, when he shouted out to those gathered in the temple courts on the last day of the eight day autumn festival: “If anyone is thirsty, come to me and drink, because – like Scripture said – anyone believing in me will have rivers of living water flowing from within them.”
John later adds to that in verse 39, “By that he meant the Spirit, that all those who believed in him would receive,” but at the time Jesus did not explain that. There was enough in what he said, however, to really catch their attention.
Like the first sentence, “If anyone is thirsty” – because in their climate, thirst was ever present. As one author wrote: “Water is always an attractive word in the East. But at the time when Jesus uttered this saying it would have an effect that was almost magical. It was in the autumn weather, when the sun had been shining in fierceness for months, and the barren ground was crying out for rain…”
It was Jesus’ timing too, because the autumn festival was their annual reminder of the water that flowed from the rock in their wilderness wanderings, picturing their long-awaited, promised Messiah who would provide streams in the desert and an outpouring of his Holy Spirit on all who would believe. And here on this very occasion picturing all that, Jesus was saying, “If anyone is thirsty, come to me and drink,” a clear claim that he was that Rock that those in the wilderness drank from, which Paul later spoke of in 1 Corinthians 10:4, that “They all drank of the Spiritual Rock which followed them, and that Rock was Christ.”
So imagine being there as the chief priests led a procession to the pool of Siloam, where a golden pitcher from the Temple was filled with water and carried back to the Temple altar where the water was poured out as a thank offering and a choir sang the Scriptures Jesus was referring to, like Isaiah 12:2-3, “Surely God is my salvation…With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation,” and Joel 3:18, “A fountain will flow out of the Lord’s house,” plus Ezekiel 47:1-12 and Zechariah 14:6-9 too, all of which spoke of the living waters that would flow with the arrival of the Messiah to satisfy the deepest and most pressing thirst that all we humans have…(more on this tomorrow)