John 7 Part 4

Resumed from part 3

Judaism saw the water ceremony on several levels. On the one hand, it was a plea to God to send rain, the latter rain. It was also a source of symbolism. After all, where did God get water in the wilderness? What’s one of the most dramatic moments? They got water from the rock. Paul later tells the Corinthians that the rock is Christ. That’s why; remember Moses was told to strike the rock. The second time, Moses was told not to strike but to speak to the rock because only one sacrifice is needful. Here, water was flowing from the sacrificial altar of the Temple and the imagery from Zachariah and Ezekiel would be water going out from the Temple and forming a river. We have this imagery here that you’ve got to keep in mind.
Ezekiel describes a temple in the kingdom of God and it’s a different temple than the ones we had in the first and second temples and even the third temple, in my view this is the fourth temple. There’s a wall outside and it measures the temple. In fact, the details are so great in Ezekiel 40-48 that you can actually do an architectural rendering of this. But if you look at chapter 47 there is water flowing from under the threshold of the house toward the east- this is the Temple- the house faced the east and water was flowing down from under the right side of the house from the south of the altar. Similar is the idea of the water being poured on the altar.
Ezekiel 47:2-5, “He brought me out by way of the north gate and led me around on the outside to the outer gate by way of the gate that faces east. And behold, water was trickling from the south side. When the man went out toward the east with a line in his hand, he measured a thousand cubits, and he led me through the water, water reaching the ankles. Again he measured a thousand and led me through the water, water reaching the knees. Again he measured a thousand and led me through the water, water reaching the loins. Again he measured a thousand; and it was a river that I could not ford, for the water had risen, enough water to swim in, a river that could not be forded.”
You have this picture of this bank of the river in Ezekiel 47:7, “Now when I had returned, behold, on the bank of the river there were very many trees on the one side and on the other.” Does that sound familiar to you? It ought to because if you go ahead it goes on to describe it one more time. Ezekiel 47:12, “By the river on its bank, on one side and on the other, will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither and their fruit will not fail. They will bear every month because their water flows from the sanctuary, and their fruit will be for food and their leaves for healing.” Now turn to the last chapter of the bible. Revelation 22:1-2, “Then he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb, in the middle of its street. On either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.” See how that is taken directly from that imagery in Ezekiel 47 and it’s also related to the imagery of what they’d do at Tabernacles.
Here’s the point. When the final day takes place, as the seven water processions are taking place and as they’re pouring the water at the foot of the Temple to symbolize all of this, Jesus makes His proclamation, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink.” This is no accident.
John 7:38, “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, “From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.” The image of water coming from the throne is water that’s alive. In fact, it turns the Dead Sea into a freshwater body of water so that now fish can be there. People can actually fish there. You sure can’t do it now. This imagery of living water is like an artesian well. It keeps bubbling up and moving. Living water is water that keeps moving and is not stagnant. So He’s saying from his innermost being will flow rivers of living water. But that water is used of the Spirit.
John 7:39,” But this He spoke of the Spirit, whom those who believed in Him were to receive; for the Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.” The Spirit would be given after Jesus was glorified having ascended to the Father after His death, burial, and resurrection. Then it was needful for Him to ascend to the Father and then 10 days later what would happen? Pentecost. So then fifty days after Passover, Pentecost would take place. The gift of the Holy Spirit would be sent and it was necessary for Christ to ascend to the Father so the Spirit could come thus fulfilling the symbolism in these feasts. Do you see this beautiful picture of how from the very innermost being this water will come?
John 7:40-41a, “Some of the people therefore, when they heard these words, were saying, “This certainly is the Prophet.” Others were saying, “This is the Christ.” Those are on the positive side. On the negative side- John 7:41b, “Still others were saying, “Surely the Christ is not going to come from Galilee, is He?” That’s based on a misunderstanding. The supposition is that the Messiah was going to come from Bethlehem and because it was Jesus of Nazareth they didn’t understand or were not aware of the fact that He actually was born in Bethlehem. We have this picture here of how He really does fulfill it but they didn’t understand it.
John 7:42-43, “Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the descendants of David, and from Bethlehem, the village where David was?” So a division occurred in the crowd because of Him.” That division was based in part because of their ignorance.
John 7:44-47, “Some of them wanted to seize Him, but no one laid hands on Him. The officers then came to the chief priests and Pharisees, and they said to them, “Why did you not bring Him?” The officers answered, “Never has a man spoken the way this man speaks.” The Pharisees then answered them, “You have not also been led astray, have you?”
John 7:48, “No one of the rulers or Pharisees has believed in Him, has he?” There’s arrogance here. If they were really educated and knowledgeable, they would understand. These people are just a bunch of country bumpkins!
John 7:49-52, “But this crowd which does not know the Law is accursed.” Nicodemus (he who came to Him before, being one of them) said to them. “Our Law does not judge a man unless it first hears from him and knows what he is doing does it?” They answered him, “You are not also from Galilee, are you? Search and see that no prophet arises out of Galilee.”
Actually, it turns out that prophets did arrive out of Galilee. There were two- Jonah and Naaum. They did come from Galilee. The search should’ve been on their part.
It reminds me of Jesus when He says, “You search the scriptures (in chapter 5) and you think you have eternal life.” What you hear in these verses is the argument that important people did not believe in Him which is the same pressure today. The desire for social, academic and religious respectability causes many to stumble. Matthew makes it very clear.
One of my very favorite texts in all the Bible is Matthew 11:25-27, “At that time Jesus said, “I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants. Yes, Father, for this way was well-pleasing in Your sight. All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him.” This is exactly what Jesus was saying in John 6 where He was saying, look, if my Father has called you, you will come to Me, but you cannot come to Me unless My Father draws you.” There’s this understanding that you do not have the power to come to the Father unless the Father first draws you. Similarly here, unless you come to Him as a little child and that only if it’s been granted then. No one can know the Father except the Son and anyone whom the Son wills to reveal Him. Now you have this two-sided coin, which we cannot fully grasp- namely, on the one hand, it’s needful for us to be responsive and open and humble before Him but on the other hand, we also must be drawn. There is a mystery of how those go together.
Then Jesus says these great words. Matthew 11:28, “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.” In other words, the person who comes to the understanding of their desperate need and know of their need for rest and of healing- then they will take His yoke upon them and learn from Him and discover the rest for their souls.
As this text concludes then we see that the rejection was one where they overlooked the claims of this One who is right before them. It’s so easy for this to happen. You can have this reality of people rejecting the very One who comes to them, even the religious leaders. I wonder in our own churches-it’d be interesting to see the degree to which we’d be more abiding by our traditions and our experiences than we would if Jesus came and challenged us again. It’s easy for us to judge at a distance. But you wonder- if Jesus really came, you know He’d be radical- you know He’d be different from what you’re accustomed to. We have a way of wanting to reduce Him down to categories. I’m simply saying this- it’s needful in our own lives as we respond to His movements in our life to be walking in humility, child-like openness, and basic trust and to be willing to do His will because as we walk in obedience to Him then the way of knowing Him is enhanced.
There’s a bit of a danger- I’ve actually seen people witness out of pride. Some people witness out of guilt. But some people want to have more spiritual notches on their bible. There’s a danger here in thinking that they’re doing it. All we do is show up and we participate in a mysterious process. We are totally impotent to make any outcome unless the Spirit of God is at work. We can witness. We can communicate. We can share. But it is God who must do the work. Our arguments won’t work either. Our life should be a consistent life and it should be consistent with the message. At the end of it all, I’ve got to depend on God.

 

Continued in part 5

 

 

 

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