On the last day, the climax of the festival, Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! (John 7:37)
Relate: Every day during the Feast of the Tabernacles a group of priests would lead a procession down to the pool of Siloam to draw water. While the choir sang Psalms 113-118 the procession would circle around the altar and then pour out the water as a libation to God. This wasn’t the kick off but the climax to an all night party that would take place through the twilight hours right up to this moment. In fact, that nightly party was famous enough that one writer said, “He that never has seen the joy of the Beth he-She’ubah has never in his life seen joy”. It is also this ceremony that Isaiah is referring to when he writes Isaiah 12 which includes: “With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.”
On the seventh and final day of the festival, instead of circling around the altar once, the priests would circle around the altar seven times. At the final moment of the final day of the festival, as the waters of salvation were being poured out, this year Jesus added a slight twist. While the water poured down, His voice raised out: “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.’ ” There had already been chatter among the celebrants for the entire length of the ceremony. All week long, a running debate had been going about who exactly this guy was. Where is He from? What is He all about? Jesus could not have possibly picked a more dramatic moment to weigh in on the subject. In fact, I would venture that God had designed the entire ceremony, all its culture and history, all its rich tradition just as it was specifically so that Jesus could shout out this vital truth at this very specific moment.
React: With His declaration, what exactly was Jesus saying? He repeats God’s offer that anyone who is thirsty may come to Him and drink. (Isaiah 55:1) He names Himself the answer to David’s desire when he wrote, “O God, you are my God; I earnestly search for you. My soul thirsts for you; my whole body longs for you in this parched and weary land where there is no water.” (Psalm 63:1) A similar more famous line was written by the sons of Korah, “As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God. I thirst for God, the living God.” (Psalm 42:1-2) Twice Jeremiah also refers to God as the fountain of living water. Jesus was making it plain for all to hear that He is God and that He is the fulfillment of their deepest longing.
That longing still exists within us today. Each and every one of us has a God sized hole in our heart that only Jesus can fill. He is the answer, the only answer to that thirst deep down within us. Will we come to Him and drink? The offer still stands today.
God, I come to You. You have all that I need. You are all I want. Jesus, You are my everything.