In this story, the Nation of Israel is in the middle of a seven-day Fall harvest called the Feast of Tabernacles. Not only did people travel from all over to Jerusalem to enjoy the joyous celebration but, they would bring with them a tithe (10%) of all their harvest to be given for Temple Worship (Leviticus 23).
The story switches between the perspectives of Jesus’ disciples, the people, and the leaders as they discuss who they think Jesus is. Some believe he is the one promised in Hebrew scriptures and others think He is a fraud. Jesus first secretly attends the festival, then begins to teach in the temple challenging their ideas about what they believed about him.
On the last day of this Feast, prayers would be made for rain, the priest would pour water out of the stone altar in the inner court of the temple, the Levites would sing Psalm 113-118, and the people would wave palm branches. At that moment, Jesus stands up and declares himself as the real water they were praying for. He says:
“Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.” – John 7:37-38
Jesus’ presence in our lives stands in stark contrast to the popular notions of our culture and our own values and beliefs about who He is and the heart and desire of God for us. He is not looking for our mental assent that He is real. He wants us to go to Him, for the Holy Spirit that He offers, to experience the reality for ourselves.
The Holy Spirit that, like fresh water, can turn our desire into fulfillment and our potential into fruitfulness. The Holy Spirit is not weird, mystical, ethereal, and hard to grasp. The Holy Spirit is real, can speak to us, can lead us, can empower us, can change us from the inside out, and can help us fulfill our potential. We experience this as we pray this simple prayer, “Come Holy Spirit, change me, flow out of me.”
• What is Jesus working on in you?