The events of John chapter seven take place during the festival of the tabernacles. Jesus’ half-brothers told Him to go up and make himself known to the people. The invitation was not one from a position of belief in Jesus being the Messiah but one of sarcasm. Jesus declined their offer and later went up in secret. Halfway through the festival Jesus went up and taught in the temple complex. His teachings amazed the people and many believed that He is the Messiah. Still, others did not believe, and among them were the Jewish spiritual leaders that looked for a chance to arrest Him. In the end, Jesus avoided arrest because the temple police were so amazed by His teachings that they refused to arrest Him. The climax of the events of John chapter seven takes place on the last day of the festivals.
We must understand the history behind the festival of the tabernacles to fully understand what Jesus was saying on the last day. The festival of the tabernacles was celebrated in remembrance of God’s provisions during the time the Jews spent wandering in the wilderness. During this festival, there would be seven days of the water festival.
“On each of the seven days before the final day (the added day), priests drew water from the Pool of Siloam and carried a golden pitcher full of the water to the temple and then around the altar with the high priest leading the way. As the priests neared the water gate, the shofar was blown, and then the psalms of praise and thanksgiving were sung to God for the harvest (Pss 113–118)” (John 1–11 (NAC))
It was during this day when Jesus stood and announced:
“On the last and most important day of the festival, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone is thirsty, he should come to Me and drink! The one who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, will have streams of living water flow from deep within him.”
John 7:37-38 HCSB ( https://www.bible.com/72/jhn.7.37-38.hcsb )
Once again we see that Jesus is the best contextual preacher that has ever lived. He waited until the appropriate time to make His announcement. The people were remembering and praising God for the water He provided for them while in the wilderness and Jesus stands up and says I am the water provided to you by the Father. This would not have been lost on the Jews. It should also be noted that “In our Lord’s day the festival had also become a time of expectation and hope that the Messiah would appear and rescue the people from their Roman conquerors.” (John 1-11 (NAC)). Which gives Jesus’ words even more meaning to the Jews of that time.
It is plain to see that Jesus is saying that I am the Messiah, the Son of God, The Living Water, and the One you have been waiting for all this time. This caused the Jewish leaders to want to kill Him all the more, while others started to believe. Jesus is the dividing point of history. You either believe that Jesus is the Son of God, the Messiah, becoming a child of God. Or you reject Jesus as just a prophet/ good teacher being condemned by your disbelief (John 3).
God never forces Himself on anyone. To believe or not to believe is your free choice. Not only is it a free choice it is a personal choice. Jesus said, “The one who believes in Me...” meaning that we all have to take personal responsibility for our choice. It’s not the choice of your nation. It’s not the choice of your ethnic group. It’s not the choice of your community. It’s not the choice of your family or your parents. It’s your choice and your responsibility to drink the living water.
Questions for reflection:
How would you answer someone who says “Jesus never claimed to be God”?
Have you drunk of the living water? If not, what is holding you back?