Today’s Reading: 1 Samuel 14:1-52, John 7:31-53, Psalm 109:1-31, Proverbs 15:5-7
Jesus stood in the middle of the festival of booths (Succoth) and offered living water to all who were thirsty. As I read this, I wondered why Jesus spoke of water, so I looked it up and found a wonderful explanation on the Jews for Jesus site, about the importance of water during this feast, which is quoted here.
The third daily ceremony was the rite of the water libation. On the first morning of Sukkot a procession of priests went down to the pool of Siloam to bring up to the Temple a golden container of water sufficient to last throughout the seven days of the feast. The water was brought up with great ceremony. The shofar was blown and the pilgrims who had come to Jerusalem for the feast waved their lulavs as the priests carried the water around the altar. The great Hallel (Psalms 113-118) were recited. Then the priest on duty poured out the contents of two silver bowls: one held water and the other held wine. This was an act of prayer and an expression of dependence upon God to pour out his blessing of rain upon the earth.
So Jesus was claiming that He had the water that God was pouring out on the earth, an answer to the prayers of the people. Who are the thirsty people that Jesus addressed? Physically all of us are thirsty many times a day. I think we also share a spiritual thirst, a desire for complete relief from the ache in our hearts. I’ve been listening for it in popular music recently – I need to take notes so I can accurately quote the songs I hear.
Jesus promised living water to all who are thirsty, if they believe – if they have faith in Him.
37 On the last day, the climax of the festival, Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! 38 Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’” 39 (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.)
John goes on to explain that Jesus was referring to the Holy Spirit as the living water that would answer the deepest yearnings of the people who were celebrating this feast, and ultimately, for the rest of us as well.
The key here is belief, wholeheartedly giving ourselves over to Jesus. What does this wholehearted commitment look like? Let’s look to the story in I Samuel 14 for an example. Jonathan, son of King Saul, was spying on the Philistines who were oppressing Israel at the time. Jonathan suggested a plan of attack to his armor bearer, whose response demonstrated the type of commitment that Jesus asked of His followers.
7 “Do what you think is best,” the armor bearer replied. “I’m with you completely, whatever you decide.”
The armor bearer knew that his allegiance to Jonathan might cost him his life, yet he went all in. That is what Jesus seeks from us as well.