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Jesus the water of life | Bible Trek – Jerusalem in the New Testament Series – 01

John’s Gospel records that on the southern steps of the temple, on the final day of the Feast of Tabernacles, Jesus stood up and invited people to come to him, the water of life. In this extraordinary moment, Jesus took the ancient prophecy of Ezekiel about water flowing from the temple, and applied it to himself. 

Quick read

John 7.37–39 

In a nutshell

Jesus stood up and said in a loud voice, ‘Whoever is thirsty should come to me, and whoever believes in me should drink.’ John 7.37–38 (GNB)

The Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot in Hebrew) commemorates the people of Israel living in ‘temporary accommodation’, after their escape from slavery in Egypt and before they entered the Promised Land. 

Jesus used the context of priests pouring water on the altar during Sukkot to refer to himself: ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink.’ And he alluded to the Old Testament prophet Ezekiel, who had spoken of water streaming from the Temple all the way to the Dead Sea, turning its salt water into fresh water (47.1–12). 

Ezekiel lived six centuries before Jesus, when Jewish people were exiled in Babylon. He prophesied that the exile would end and that the Kavod – the presence of God – would return to Jerusalem. Jesus applied Ezekiel’s prophecy and the symbolism of the Feast of Tabernacles to himself: those who believed in him would receive the Holy Spirit, who would be like streams of life-giving water. 

’Every vaccine gives hope‘ has been the powerful message central to the NHS Covid vaccination campaign. Its power lies in its appeal to the deepest part of us. As humans we need hope. It keeps us going when life gets difficult. 

Still, life is uncertain at best. For every struggle, another awaits around the corner. The vaccine will make us Covid-proof, but history and our human experience remind us we can never be crisis-proof.  

This is why we need hope. This is why Israel would have re-enacted the vision of Ezekiel 47 at the Festival of Tabernacles. This is why we need the words of Jesus: 

Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.’

Just as an anchor for the soul in life’s worst storms, so is Jesus’ hope for the thirsty. You’ve been invited into hope so that you might overflow. So come and drink. Come to Jesus and let his hope fill you and spill out of you to heal a hurting world. 

Read on, to find out more about Ezekiel’s vision and Jesus’ words about himself. 

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