On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and proclaimed, “If any one thirst, let him come to me and drink. He who believes in me, as the scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water.’”– John 7:37-38
The seventh chapter of John’s gospel is set during the Feast of Tabernacles, which is sometimes called the Feast of Booths or Sukkot. This week-long festival serves as a reminder of the journey of the Israelites from captivity to freedom through the wilderness. John tells of the events that surrounded Jesus in Jerusalem at the feast in ways that are reminiscent of the account of the actual account of the Israelites from the book of Exodus. In particular, John mentions twice in the account that the people were “muttering” about Jesus. In the account of the wanderings of the Israelites in Exodus, we read nine times that the people were “murmuring” against Moses.
The people murmured against Moses because they did not have enough food. In response to the murmurings, Moses intervened and God provided manna and quail for them to eat. When they murmured again it was because there was not enough fresh water. In response to the murmurings, Moses followed God’s instructions to strike a rock with his staff. When Moses obeyed God, fresh water burst forth from the rock to form a river, which is called Ain Musa, Stream of Moses.
In like manner, John writes that at the Feast of Tabernacles the people’s muttering culminated in Jesus’ teaching, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink…out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water.” Life is often dry and difficult along this pilgrim way, and the temptation is to join multitudes in murmuring or muttering complaints. Jesus offers assurance in that even before we ask, God offers his people his own life-giving spirit.
Lord Jesus, forgive my fickle faith and grant me an absolute assurance of God’s goodness and love. Amen.
A Bible study devotional blog by Gorman Houston