“On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “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.” By this He meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not yet been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.”
There are those verses in the Bible which seem to jump right out of the pages of Scripture and grasp our lives in a way that completely transforms every part of them. This is one such passage. Way back when I first became a Christian this text from John’s Gospel was one of the first Scriptures which I committed to memory. It seemed like the right thing to do at the time. I have always loved this text from the pen of the Apostle John.
The more that I study this text the more awesome it has become for me. It comes in the middle of a section of the gospel in which Jesus is having a conversation with the citizens of Jerusalem regarding their evaluation of Him. They are divided over Him. Many are failing to believe that He is in fact the Christ, the one sent by the Father to bring redemption to the people of God. In additions to those who are struggling with whether they believe in Jesus or not, there are many others who have made up their minds. They will not believe in Him.
As John presents this account in these chapters of his Gospel he is skilfully bringing us to the point where we recognise that this is the key question which each of us must answer. Do we believe that Jesus is the Christ? All of the circumstances of the lives that we live bring us at one point or another to confront this question. It is crucial that we answer it. The day will come when we will stand before the judgment throne of God and our answer to whether we have believed in Jesus will determine our eternal destiny.
It recognising this we need to acknowledge that we are just as divided over what we think about Jesus as the people of Jerusalem were. Some do not what to talk about Him at all. Others see Him as a prophet, a good moral example, or as an imposter. Some of us have recognised in the LORD Jesus Christ the Incarnate Son of the living God who has come in fulfillment of the Scriptures in order to redeem us. In any case we are divided and are being brought by life to the point where we must decide who we think that He is.
The only way that we can answer this question is by following the evidence which the Apostle John presents here. He tells us that this evidence is primarily Scriptural. Jesus was always pointing to the Words of the Father which He was passing on to His hearers. Here Jesus says, “As the Scripture has said.” What Jesus is telling the people of Jerusalem is that the teaching He is giving during the greatest day of the feast is in fact Biblical teaching.
There were several key texts which were part of the celebrations at the Feast of Tabernacles which we can look at for evidence regarding the message Jesus was giving to His hearers on that day.
The first is found in Psalms 78:15-16, “He split the rocks in the desert and gave them water as abundant as the seas; He brought streams out of a rocky crag and made water flow down like rivers.” Then there is Isaiah 12:3, “with joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.” Finally there are two sections from the fourteenth chapter of Zechariah. In verse 8 we read, “On that day living water will flow out from Jerusalem, half to the eastern sea and half to the western sea, in summer and in winter.” Then in a section which balances verse eight we read in verses sixteen through nineteen. “Then the survivors from all the nations that have attacked Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King, the Lord Almighty, and to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. If any of the peoples of the earth do not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord Almighty, they will have no rain. If the Egyptian people do not go up and take part they will have no rain. The Lord will bring on them the plague He inflicts on the nations that do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. This will be the punishment of Egypt and the punishment of the nations that do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles.” It seems that the issue is one of genuine worship, the acknowledgement of the LORD Almighty as the King whose reign is being celebrated in the Feast of Tabernacles. We, along with the people of Jerusalem are being brought to the point of decision. Who do we really believe the LORD Jesus Christ is?