By Stephen W. Hiemstra
And the LORD will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail (Isaiah 58:11 ESV).
Laconic—not! The trickle of detail found in most of scripture is replaced with a flood in John’s Gospel. In life, God showers us with Niagara Falls of blessings. The Holy Spirits washes through us to everyone we meet (Ezekiel 47:1-9).
The context of Jesus’ revelation is the seventh day of Feast of Tabernacles (or booths) in the temple in Jerusalem. It is the last of three pilgrimage feasts in the Jewish calendar: “the Feast of Unleavened Bread, at the Feast of Weeks, and at the Feast of Booths” (Deuteronomy 16:16).
On the first seven days, a priest drew water from the Gihon Spring, processed up the hill to the temple, and poured the water on temple altar1. At this point: Jesus stood up and cried out, If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water (vv 37-38). His words could not have had a more dramatic context. The water ceremony commemorated the time when Moses struck the rock a Meribah in the desert and the rock yielded a flood of water (Numbers 20:11).
However, God instructed Moses to tell the rock to yield water. Because Moses disobeyed God in striking the rock with his staff, God punished Moses saying that he would not live to enter the Promised Land (Numbers 20:8, 12). Thus, Jesus’ declaration and sinless life testify to his exceeding the blessings God bestowed on Israel through the ministry of Moses.
Leading up the Feast of the Tabernacles, we get a glimpse into Jesus’ private life. Jesus’ brothers invite him to attend the feast with them and encourage him to make a big splash (v 4). Jesus refuses. After his brothers leave, he quietly travels late to the feast and begins teaching in the temple (v 10). Why? Because Jesus was not trying to draw attention to himself, but he preferred to wait on God’s timing (vv 8, 16).
Jesus told his brothers: My time has not yet come, but your time is always here (v 6).