Wednesday 15 July 2020

Bible Book:

'Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, and let the one who believes in me drink. As the scripture has said, “Out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water.”’ Now he said this about the Spirit, which believers in him were to receive. (vs. 37-39)

John 7:37-52 Wednesday 15 July 2020

Psalm: Psalm 75:1-7


The Festival of Booths lasted a week and both water and candlelight (which Jesus will take up in 8:12) were given significant symbolic use within it. Jesus offers himself as a source of life-giving water, as he had done to the woman at the well in John 4:7-15. Whether the translation of verse 38 means “out of the believer’s heart” or “out of his heart”, referring to Jesus himself, is a matter of punctuation, but 4:14 makes clear that Jesus offers believers an inner source of living water even if that is not unambiguously stated here.

There is no single scripture that matches what verse 38 claims that the scripture has said. Rather it is a composite idea from putting together several Old Testament passages. These might include Exodus 17:6 where Moses strikes water from the rock, Isaiah 44:3 where water and God’s spirit are parallel terms, Ezekiel 47:1-12 with its rivers of the water of life, and the similar imagery of Zechariah 14:8 which was already linked to the Festival of Booths (Zechariah 14:19).

“As yet there was no Spirit” (v. 39) is not meant absolutely since we have already been told that Jesus possesses the Spirit (1:33; 3:34), but it was only after his resurrection that the Spirit became widely available (20:22).

This passage then has a more extended account than the passing reference earlier in the chapter of where Jesus came from, with the Pharisees adamant that no prophet, let alone the Messiah, could come from Galilee. Quite apart from the irony that Jesus was in fact born in Bethlehem, Messiah’s birthplace, and not in Galilee, the Pharisees are wrong in their claim, and careless in their own Bible study, since Jonah was from Galilee (2 Kings 14:25) and one significant Messianic prophecy (Isaiah 9:1-2) certainly did concern Galilee.

Nicodemus (verse 30), a leading Pharisee who had first visited Jesus by night (John 3:1), but who is still described as “one of them”, argues that Jesus legally should be afforded a fair hearing based on proper investigation and not prejudice.


To Ponder:

  •  Why might water be considered a good image to describe the Holy Spirit?
  • Do you think a quotation introduced with, “As the scripture has said:” (as in verse 38) carries more weight when it copies an exact text rather than drawing together ideas from several places? How did you arrive at your opinion?
  • Many rejected Jesus because they considered Galilee too insignificant a place. In what ways might we make similar wrong judgements about somebody today?
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