TODAY’S READING: John 7–8
Jesus made His way to Jerusalem again, this time during the Feast of Tabernacles, also called the Feast of Booths. The feast remembered both the Exodus and the end of harvest. Included were elements of thanksgiving for what God had done in providing water in times past and elements of prayer that the fall season would provide enough rain for the spring harvest. During the feast the priests drew water from the pools of Siloam and carried it to the temple where they quoted Scripture and symbolically poured the water out at the foot of the altar to commemorate water from the rock that saved the Israel.
When Jesus cried out at the feast, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink…and out of his heart will flow rivers of living water” (John 7:37–38), He was claiming to be the very fulfilment of the feast itself, the very answer to prayer, the very fulfilment of prophecy. Lest we are too thick to get it, John then tells us that this water is the Spirit who Jesus gives to those who believe in Him (v. 39), and lest we forget the purpose of the Spirit poured out, Acts 1:8 tells us it is so the river of Jesus’s life may pour from us to all the nations. John 7 is a grand revelation of the missionary heart of God. God has saved us and given us His Spirit, and He wants His Spirit to flow from us to all the nations. “If anyone thirsts,” Jesus shouted, “if the Turks thirst, if the Muslims of the Maldives thirst, if the atheists of North Korea thirst, if the violent Hindu nationalists thirst, if the Houthi of Yemen thirst, let them come to me and drink!” As is God’s way, when we drink deeply of Jesus, there is so much more of Him than one person or people can contain. He will burst from them and in Spirit life flow to all the nations.
John 8 is a continuation of the narrative of Jesus at the Feast of Tabernacles. The priests not only poured water, they also lit menorahs in the temple, usually in the court of women, casting a brilliant, festive light in all directions. This court sat directly in front of the treasury where Jesus was when He claimed to be the truth that sets all people free (vv. 20, 31). Jesus looked out at the glowing courtyard as He not only claimed to be living water, but the truth, freedom, and most shockingly the I AM that was before Abraham. Jesus made it very clear from that moment that He is God and that His plan includes all peoples. And for both realities He was hated and would be killed.
As C. S. Lewis so articulately put it in Mere Christianity, there is no room for ambiguity: “A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic—on the level with a man who says he is a poached egg—or else he would be the devil of hell. You must make your choice. Either he was and is the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for being a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon, or you can fall at his feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”
 The priests quoted scriptures such as Isaiah 12:3 and 44:3, Zechariah 14:8, and Ezekiel 36:25–27.