Study Notes

John 7:37-53


Remember that for the last two weeks, we've seen Jesus at the Feast of Tabernacles, or Feast of Booths.

We first read about this Feast in Leviticus 23, which we just happen to be studying this Thursday night. God tells Moses,

Lev. 23:40 'Now on the first day you shall take for yourselves the foliage of beautiful trees, palm branches and boughs of leafy trees and willows of the brook; and you shall rejoice before the LORD your God for seven days.

The Israelites were instructed to make shelters, or lean-to's that they covered with the branches they'd collected. They were told,

Lev. 23:42-43 "You shall live in booths for seven days; all the native-born in Israel shall live in booths, so that your generations may know that I had the sons of Israel live in booths when I brought them out from the land of Egypt.."

It was a reminder of God delivering the Israelites out of Egypt and into the wilderness, when they lived in tents for 40 years.

Tabernacles was one of three major Jewish feasts that the Law commanded all able-bodied Jewish males to attend in Jerusalem:

Exod. 23:17 "Three times a year all your males shall appear before the Lord GOD."

The Jewish historian Josephus says that approximately two and a half million Israelites gathered in Jerusalem for this feast during Jesus' day.

It lasted for a week: seven days, plus a final eighth day. It began on the 15th day of the 7th month. On our calendar this year, that means October 5th at sundown.

During the feast, the Israelites would remember and recall how God supernaturally sustained their ancestors in the wilderness by miraculous provision. Not the least of which included water from the rock. You remember the story: in Exodus 17, the people, camped at Rephidim, had no water to drink. They quarreled with Moses and tested the Lord. They grumbled and said, "Why did you bring us up out of Egypt just to die in the wilderness?"

Exod. 17:4-6 So Moses cried out to the LORD, saying, "What shall I do to this people? A little more and they will stone me." Then the LORD said to Moses, "Pass before the people and take with you some of the elders of Israel; and take in your hand your staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. Behold, I will stand before you there on the rock at Horeb; and you shall strike the rock, and water will come out of it, that the people may drink."...

So Moses struck the rock, and the water gushed out.

To commemorate this event, on each of the first seven days, the priests would draw water from the pool of Siloam. As the Levite singers sang the Hallel psalms, the priests would carry their pitchers of water in procession about 1/3 of a mile north up to the temple mount. Then, as the vast multitudes watched, they would pour the water out upon the pavement of the courtyard. This was a very visual reminder of how the Lord had supernaturally given their ancestors in the wilderness water from the rock.

But on the eighth day of Tabernacles, the procession was silent. When the priests returned and tipped their pitchers, they were empty. God had promised in Deuteronomy 8 that He was...

Deut. 8:7 ...bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, flowing forth in valleys and hills

He had done as He promised - the promised land was well-watered. So the symbolism was obvious - no longer in the wilderness, the Israelites had no need for God's supernatural provision of water from the rock. As the priests tipped their empty pitchers, it would be an introspective moment for all the observers. And at that very second, we read...

7:37-39 The Last Day Of The Feast

As each of the Israelites watched the empty pitchers turned, Jesus said,

John 7:37 ..."If any man is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink."

Their ancestors had relied on God's supernatural provision to sustain them. But now, they had it all together - aqueducts, cisterns, wells. No more need of God intervening in their everyday lives to care for them and provide for them.

But there was an internal thirst. An inward dryness. As the psalmist wrote,

Ps. 42:1-2 As the deer pants for the water brooks, So my soul pants for Thee, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God...

Everyone has this thirst inside - it is a dryness that only God can satisfy. But for some reason we try to slake our thirst on everything except God. People turn to drugs and alcohol, relationships and sex, entertainment and vacations. Trying to satisfy their spiritual thirst through emotional and physical activities.

As many had that spiritual thirst, Jesus was offering to them supernatural, living water to spring from his or her innermost being. He was saying, "If you have a spiritual thirst to know God, believe in Me - I'll satisfy that thirst."

The Spirit

Now John tells us parenthetically that the water that Jesus spoke of was the Holy Spirit. You know, there have been a lot of misunderstandings about the work of the Holy Spirit. Before we look at them, I want to ask you: Do you feel torrents of living water gushing out of you? Or do you feel like there's maybe something that you're missing? Let's understand the working of the Holy Spirit to understand why that is.

The Bible tells us that there are three different relationships that the Holy Spirit has with the believer. They are described using three different Greek prepositions: "para," "en," and "epi."

In chapter 14, we'll see Jesus tell the disciples about the Spirit,

John 14:17 ...He abides with (para) you, and will be in (en) you.

He was with the disciples - walking next to them, as it were. Drawing them into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. The same is true in every believer's life. The Holy Spirit used to be "para" - He was with us, next to us, convicting us of sin, and drawing us to Jesus.

But then when we believed, He became "en." He came to live inside of our hearts. The Scripture tells us,

2Cor. 1:22 who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge.

Eph. 1:13 In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation - having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise

But there is a third work - when the Spirit is "epi." It is when the Spirit comes upon us - empowering us, filling us to overflowing. Jesus said in Acts 1:8,

Acts 1:8 but you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth."

That power, that boldness to be a witness, that torrent of living water, comes from the Holy Spirit "epi," coming upon you, baptizing you, filling you to an overflowing life.

But you may say, "I've already believed! God has given me the Holy Spirit!" And so He has. But remember the believers in Ephesus. They had come to faith in Christ, but were missing that gushing of living water. Paul asked them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?" He knew they were believers and had been sealed by the Spirit, but wanted to know if they'd been filled, "epi'd" by the Spirit. When they said no,

Acts 19:6 And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on (epi) them, and they began speaking with tongues and prophesying.

Torrents of living water gushed forth from them! How can you receive the Holy Spirit in that way? There's no magic formula. Just in the book of Acts, we see the Spirit coming upon believers during a prayer meeting, during a Bible study, at a baptism, and at the laying on of hands. The one important thing is that you ask. Jesus said,

Luke 11:9-13 "And I say to you, ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it shall be opened. Now suppose one of you fathers is asked by his son for a fish; he will not give him a snake instead of a fish, will he? Or {if} he is asked for an egg, he will not give him a scorpion, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall {your} heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?"

Simply ask your heavenly Father to fill you with His Spirit.

"But I was filled with the Spirit back in 1984!" But that's not what's going to be gushing living water from you today. Remember what we saw in the book of Acts,

Acts 13:52 And the disciples were continually filled with joy and with the Holy Spirit.

Ask again.

7:40-43 The Prophet

People were saying, "This is the Prophet!" What prophet? The one that the Lord had promised Moses back in Deuteronomy 18:

Deut. 18:18-19 "I will raise up a prophet from among their countrymen like you, and I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. And it shall come about that whoever will not listen to My words which he shall speak in My name, I Myself will require {it} of him."

Until that time, they had been eagerly awaiting this Prophet. Surely this Jesus guy had to be Him!

The Christ

But others were saying, "No way, man! He's not the Prophet! He's the Christ! He's the Messiah! The Deliverer! He's the one that's going to restore the kingdom to Israel and sit on David's throne forever!"

But others disagreed, saying, "He can't be! This guy comes from Galilee, and the Christ is supposed to come from Bethlehem! It says so in the book of the prophet Malachi!" Right Scriptures, wrong information. Of course, WE all know the story of Jesus' birth. How Joseph and Mary had to travel during her pregnancy to the city of Bethlehem to register for the census, being of the house of David. Of how Jesus was born there, the family fled to Egypt, and then moved up to Nazareth in Galilee.

A Division

Throughout history, people have been divided because of Jesus. Jesus promised this would happen:

Luke 12:51-53 "Do you suppose that I came to grant peace on earth? I tell you, no, but rather division; for from now on five {members} in one household will be divided, three against two, and two against three. They will be divided, father against son, and son against father; mother against daughter, and daughter against mother; mother-in-law against daughter-in-law, and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law."

People will always be divided over Jesus Christ. Divided into two groups: believers and unbelievers.

7:44-49 Believing Pharisees

This is the most heinous form of peer pressure:

John 7:47-48 ..."You have not also been led astray, have you? No one of the rulers or Pharisees has believed in Him, has he?"

Don't be duped into following the crowd - that's a sure way to wind up in hell. Jesus said,

Matt. 7:13-14 "Enter by the narrow gate; for the gate is wide, and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and many are those who enter by it. For the gate is small, and the way is narrow that leads to life, and few are those who find it."

Now the sad thing is that there were those of the rulers and Pharisees that had believed in Jesus - but they were keeping quiet about it.

7:50-53 Nicodemus

Nicodemus was one that had become a secret disciple of Jesus. Here he takes a daring stand and says, "Hey, guys. Let's not judge this Jesus guy to quickly. Maybe He's got something here." Nicodemus will get much bolder in about 6 months.

How about you? Where are you in the Lord today? Have you been enjoying the torrents of living water gushing forth from you? Do you need to be filled with the Spirit? Have you been given the wrong information about Jesus, and now need to change your thinking about Him?

Have you made a bold stand for Christ, or are you being an undercover disciple?

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