Short Meditations in John 7: 37. Declaration
Jn 7:37 On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink.
So move away from the wonderings of the people and move on a day or so to what is described by John as “the last and greatest day of the festival”. This is the Feast of Tabernacles or Booths (7:2 and see Num 29:12-40), the third of the three annual feasts that all male Jews who lived within 12 miles of Jerusalem were required to attend, (Passover, Pentecost & Tabernacles Ex 23:15,16a,16b), roughly October.
It was a feast that lasted seven days (Num 29:12), starting on a Sabbath and finishing on a Sabbath (Lev 23:39), with offerings being presented each day, which included water being poured out, on the ‘last day’ as a reminder of the water coming out of the rock (Ex 17:1-7). During this time the people lived in temporary shelters or booths (see Lev 23:42) as a reminder of how the people lived during the Exodus (Lev 23:43). It also occurred at harvest and so was also known as the Feast of Ingathering and so was a special celebration of God’s provision. This continued until on the eighth day when there was a culminating ceremony (Num 29:35) with a limited number of offerings.
Now whether this ‘last day’ was the seventh day of the feast proper, or the eighth finalising day, has always been a point of conjecture, but whichever it is, it is a significant day and one that Jesus waits for to make this major declaration.
Remember, water is being poured out, a reminder of God’s provision through Moses at a rock in the wilderness during the Exodus. A priest used to take a bucket down to the Pool of Siloam and bring back the water to the Temple to be poured out. No doubt if you were there in the heat of the day, as you saw the water being poured out, you might have been thinking, “Wow, I could do with some of that water, I need a drink!” Thirst indicates human need.
It was into this context that Jesus cried out, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink.” There is more to come, but even with this single sentence there is immense significance. Water is one of the three things we need to maintain life (air, food & water). There is an immense provision of water on this globe and it is essential to every human being and animal to maintain life. Jesus is not spelling this out here, just making this amazing offer. No doubt some turned towards him expecting him to be a water carrier, but he has no literal water. But we all get thirsty, every day, in the absence of water. We all have this most basic of needs and for those who might think about it, Jesus is saying, “If you recognise your most basic of needs, come to me and I can satisfy them – needs far more basic that mere water.”