Summary: This passage is a picture of the great claim of Jesus and the divided opinions about him. It’s a picture that should cause every one of us to search our own response to Jesus.
Tonight’s passage is a picture of the great claim of Jesus and the divided opinions about him. It’s a picture that should cause every one of us to search our own response to Jesus.
READ v.37. You might recognize these words of Jesus. He spoke similar words to the woman at the well. The Feast of Tabernacles was the most popular feast among the Jews. For that reason it was simply known as THE FEAST. It was also called The Festival to the Lord and the Feast of Ingathering. It was celebrated for 7 days.
Each Jewish family would build a small stucco or tent-like structure in their yard or on some other property they owned or secured for the occasion. Then they moved out of their home into the structure for the 7-day period.
The Feast celebrated two significant events. Historically, it celebrated the day when Israel wandered about in the wilderness as strangers and pilgrims without a homeland. The purpose for moving into the stucco or tent-like structure was to keep before them the wilderness wandering of their forefathers.
Secondly, the Feast was to be a period of thanksgiving for the completion of the harvest season and for the goodness of God in all of life. The people were to give thanks for all that God had given them: all the fruit of the land that enriched life and made life possible.
The ceremony of the festival was impressive and gives us a dramatic picture of Christ’s claims as we will see in verses 37-39. On each of the seven days, the people came to the temple and brought some fruit as an offering and a few palm and willow branches.
The branches were used to form a roof over the altar. Then the priest took a golden pitcher and led the people in a processional down to the pool of Siloam where he filled the pitcher with water. During this march the people played the flute and sang the Hillel, which was Psalms 113-118.
It was on the return march that the drama took place. As the pitcher of water passed through the Water Gate, the people repeated in union: “With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.” (Isaiah 12:3)
When the pitcher reached the altar, the water was poured out over the altar as an offering to God. While this was being done, the people waved palm branches and recited the words “O Lord, save us; O Lord, grant us success.” (Psalms 118:25)
The idea of the processional was a dramatic way to thank God for rain, to offer prayer to God for more rain, and for a fruitful season in the coming year. It was a dramatic way for the people to acknowledge their need and dependence upon God for the rains.
The last day of the Feast was dramatic in particular, because the people repeated the processional 7 times. Not that Scripture says the Fest of Tabernacles will be celebrated and fulfilled in the end time when our Lord returns. The Feast will apparently symbolize our joy, liberty, and victory through the wilderness experience of life and the glorious provision of God: the glorious provision of living eternally and worshipping and serving God throughout the universe. (Zech. 14:16)
READ 37-39. Here we see the claim of Jesus. It was now on the last day of the Feast, the day when the people marched in the processional 7 times, that Jesus made His claim. Imagine the scene: Jesus did two unusual things. HE “stood” (a teacher always sat in that day), and He “cried out” shouting loudly. Both actions would startle and shock the people to attention.
Picture thousands of voices praying to God for the living rains in the coming season, reciting: “grant us success,” and then piercing the air comes Jesus’ thundering cry, READ 37b-38.
3 claims that Jesus made:
1. He claimed that He was the source of life: He is the One who can quench the real thirst of man’s being, who can meet the desperate need of man.
a. People do thirst for physical water and for spiritual life. Jesus claims to be the source, that is, the Water that can quench man’s thirst and give the fruit and bounty that man so desperately needs in his life. He claims that He can do what water does.
- He can cleanse and purify.
- He can refresh.
- He can revitalize and energize.
2. His second claim was that He was the source of abundant life. Rivers of living water can flow out from a person. An abundance of life can be experienced. In Matt. 5:6, Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.”
a. The death of Jesus Christ (I’m talking about His having been struck for the sins of the world) is the source of the living water. Out of His death He was able to arise, and by arising He was able to conquer sin and death and to bring forth eternal life in all of its abundance. Here’s something you might not have thought about. READ Exo. 17:6 and Numbers 20:11. The Word of God to Moses was a picture of the living water that was to come from Christ after He was struck.