Evangelical Community Chapel at Liberal: a Molalla, Oregon Church

Molalla, Oregon

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Sermons


Living Water

September 6th, 2009 by Vic

John 7

Chapter 1 beginnings; Chapter 2 wedding and temple cleansing; Chapter 3 Nicky D & Jonnie B; Chapter 4 Well; Chapter 5 porticos; Chapter 6 Fed by Bread.  Chapter 7 focuses on water and 8 looks at light.

Jesus was on a hit list.  I have been in some scary situations but not like Jesus was in.  I remember the trail at Suicide Point in Hell’s Canyon.  I remember the glacier at Cook City pass in Yellowstone.  I remember snorkeling in the Caribbean with a sting ray swimming between me and the bottom.  I remember having bottles thrown at me in Puerto Rico.

I was on staff at Nampa College Church with Jonathan Salgado.  He did Spanish ministry and I was doing youth ministry.  He was on the government hit list in Guatemala.  He was happy to be in Nampa.

Jesus had been on the Jews hit list for over a year.   It was safer to be in Galilee.  But 3 times a year all Jewish males were expected to go to Jerusalem for the pilgrim feasts:  Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles.  His brothers told him he should go and do some more miracles so the disciples that just left his organization would be convinced to come back and join with them again.

Do you know what he did?  He trusted God.  He did not go with his brothers for the start of the ceremonies but Jesus goes into the enemy camp in His time.  He makes an announcement.  He goes to the office headquarters of those plotting to kill Him and He offers them a drink.  He offers them spiritual life. “He stood up and said in a loud voice, “Let me buy you all a drink.  The drinks are on me.” (7:37)

Remember in chapter 6, after feeding the 5,000 Jesus compared himself to daily bread.  He was more than just bread to satisfy one generation.  He was the bread of heaven that was greater than the O.T. manna.  He was not offering physical satisfaction and comfort, because his kingdom was not of this world.  He was offering the bread of eternal life, a heart satisfaction.

Here in chapter 7, John tells us that in God’s time Jesus went to Jerusalem.  During the middle of the week He started teaching and on the morning of the last day of the feast, he went into the public temple area and compares Himself to water.  In chapter 8 we will hear that later that same day Jesus compares Himself to light.

This feast of Tabernacles is also called the feast of booths, the feast of ingathering or Sukkot.  It is the Jewish family camp.  Jerusalem became a tent city.  Shelters were built on rooftops, in the streets, and on the surrounding fields and hills.  At night the camp fires dotted the fields and countryside.  This celebration was a reminder of God’s provision during the 40 years in the wilderness.  It was during this feast that Solomon had dedicated this temple to the Lord.

This feast was celebrated just after the solemn feast of Atonement, the end of September or first of October when all the crops had been harvested and gathered.  It marked the change of seasons and the fall rains were about to begin.  The anticipation of rain is seen throughout the week.  Most of our camp grounds also have a focus on the water.  The gift of rain was linked to the future Messiah who would dig living water from the well of the Torah, the well of God.

This week was a reminder of the Exodus through water and God’s protection and provisions in the wilderness.  It was (1) a celebration of God’s blessings and (2) a prayer for the sending of rain.  It was a thanksgiving celebration.  It marked the beginning of the rainy season.  The focus of this feast is on the water and the campfire like the pillar of cloud and pillar of fire.

The feasts of repentance, forgiveness, and atonement were over.

The crops were in.  The work was done.  It was time to celebrate.  Like my grandpa used to say, “If you can finish hoeing this patch of berries by 2:00 p.m. we’ll go swimming.”  The focus was on the water.  We looked forward to celebrating in the water.

This was a 7-day holiday plus a Sabbath.  It occurred during the 7th month, and all the sacrifices were divisible by 7.  More animals were sacrificed during this feast than any other.

From Sabbath to Sabbath, each day they sacrificed 1 goat, 14 lambs, 2 rams, and 13-6 bulls.  Shortly before dawn the priests would watch the sunrise, turn their backs on the sun and face the sanctuary, declare their rejection of all false gods and sing songs from Psalms 113-118.  Other priests were preparing for the daily sacrifices.  The high priest would go back through the temple area, get a golden pitcher about the size of a quart jar and proceed south to the pool of Siloam.  Many worshippers would walk with him, singing the Psalms and waving palm branches.  He ceremoniously dipped the pitcher in the pool and returned to the Temple through the water gate.  Ezekiel saw a river flowing out of this gate (47:1-11) and prophesied “everything will live where the river goes.”  As he entered the Temple area, 3 silver trumpets announced his arrival and the priests repeated Isaiah 12:3, “Therefore with joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.”

The high priest proceeded up the steps of the altar, raised the golden pitcher and poured the water in a basin with holes while a drink offering of wine was poured simultaneously in another basin (Jn 19:34).  3 blasts from the silver trumpets immediately followed and signaled the start of music.  The Levites sang Psalm 113-118.  At the proper time the people waved their palm, willow, and myrtle branches and joined in singing 118:25, “Hosanna, save now, I Pray, O Lord; O Lord, I pray, send now prosperity.”  It was the sound like a mighty rushing wind.  Psalm 118 was viewed as a messianic psalm.

On the final day of the feast, the anticipation of rain was at its annual high.  Water was the focus.  On this day, the trumpets gave 3 sets of 7 blasts.  On the other days the priests walked around the altar once before pouring the water and wine.  This day they walked around the altar 7 times.  As they walked around the altar they sang Psalm 118:25 and the people waved palm branches.  Some called this the day of Hosanna.

Some think that on the eighth day, the early morning water ceremony was omitted.  That is when Jesus made His announcement?

7:1-5  Jesus’ brothers did not really know Jesus.  They assumed Jesus would become known through His works alone.  They thought Jesus came to be known, but Jesus did not come to be known, but to make God known.  His brothers did not understand.  I wonder if Mary talked to them.

Jesus had a different world view and His time was different.  I think in some ways it is like your relationship with your dog.  He does not see the world like you do.  He does not value the things you value.  He does not think about the future like you do.  But he loves you and wants to please you.  So he does some things for you that he does not understand.  He hangs around you and fits into your habits and patterns.

There is a lot about God we will never understand.  He knows we have a limited world view.  He only asks us to love Him and follow Him around so we can find ways to please Him and know the joy of receiving gifts and love from Him.  God wants us to see the world more like He sees the world.

7:12-13  In contrast to the plans of the brothers, Jesus goes up to the feast in private.  They can’t find Him for a couple days.  Then Jesus walks into their church headquarters and begins to teach.  The people were confused.  (the common Jews)

7:15  The Jews (the leaders) knew about Jesus’ miracles, but couldn’t find His teacher.  If He did not have an earned doctorate from one of their schools, His teaching is not worth hearing.  Do you see what they were asking about him?   “Why is he so smart?”  “Where did he learn so much?  We know his folks.  He didn’t even go to high school.  His dad taught him a trade.  He sounds like he has studied at our best schools, but He has not studied with any of our accredited scholars.  Jesus was not fitting any of their logical boxes so He could not be for real.  When we label someone with our labels, then we become selective in our listening to their words.

7:16-18 Jesus answered, “There are 2 ways to verify any teaching.”

1.  Beliefs determine motives – 7:17

If you are walking with God, you can hear God speak and He’ll tell you what is true.  Truth can be experienced if you choose to listen to God and do His will.  Only Christians can know the Truth in Christ.  If you choose to do God’s will, you can know who’s telling the truth.  Every Christian has a gift of discernment.  If you choose to do God’s will and desire to do God’s will you can know the truth and the truth will set you free (8:32).

2.  Motives determine action – 7:18

Pay attention to the character of the one speaking.  Does he seek his own glory or the one he represents?  Is he speaking the word of God to entertain you, impress you with his speaking skills, or is he speaking because God told him to speak.  Performer vs. prophet.

Next Jesus asks them to focus on the facts.  It is not about accepting Jesus, but accepting their traditional God, now revealed as the Father of Jesus.  “Who’s really breaking the law here?”

Read  7:19, 51

Jesus states the facts to show their inconsistency again.  The Law says, “Do not murder” yet you seek to kill me?

7:21  –  They wanted to kill him because Jesus healed a man on the Sabbath (5:1-16).  Jesus said I’m not habitually breaking the Sabbath.  You are.  You say that a matter of life-giving importance overrides the Law so you can circumcise on the Sabbath and break the Law.  You do that frequently.

7:22  –  The Jews circumcise boys whose eighth day of life falls on the Sabbath.  It was OK to circumcise a boy on the Sabbath, but not heal a cripple?  How stupid is that?

Jesus concludes, if circumcision is allowed on the Sabbath, how much more it should be permissible to heal the whole body.  Who is the real law-breaker?  When you label someone a bigot or idiot, you don’t have to listen to what he says.  The Jews accused Jesus of being possessed and now call him a law breaker.  Put a negative label on Him, then we do not have to listen.

The 7th of 13 questions in this chapter is, “Who is this Jesus?” (7:25)

Controversy was mounting.  The tension was stretched to the limit.  (7:32)  Jesus was in a very dangerous situation.  There was tension in the Temple.

While all this was going on, many were having a good time.  This was a church holiday, a big reunion, the annual family camp.  There were a lot of campfire sing-a-longs.  This was a week of joy and celebration.

READ 7:37  The 8th day of the feast was a Sabbath.  The water ceremonies were over yesterday.  There would be no lights tonight.  It was still a Sabbath day of great rejoicing.  Many psalms were sung.  It is this day when Jesus chooses to shout out His announcement.  In the midst of hostility, death plots, selfishness, anger, jealousy, controversy and questions, Jesus stood and said…  What is he saying?  Why is he shouting?  Do I believe what he is saying?  Do I want lasting satisfaction?  Do I have a spiritual thirst?  The celebration in your heart does not have to stop.  We do not need the daily water rituals to be happy.  Take the joy home with you.

Do you believe that Jesus can satisfy your soul?  Come and drink.  In 6:35 Jesus said if you are hungry come to Him and eat.  Here He says if you are thirsty, believe and drink.  Earlier in his teaching Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.” (Matt 5:6)  In addition to being filled you can have rivers of life flowing out from within.  You can be a blessing to many.  Everything will live where the river flows.  Jesus is the source of life giving water.  The Spirit in you is a source of life for others.

On this very same feast day, in this same building, in this same room 600 years earlier, the prophet Haggai spoke 2:6-9   His announcement is for all nations.  That includes us.

Jesus’ announcement implies a need.  In the midst of the good life of a festival, holiday, cruise, vacation, or camp out, Jesus offers himself.  The soul of man is thirsty.  The celebrations don’t provide lasting satisfaction.  When you take time to think about your life, what do you really want?  A Caribbean cruise gives no lasting joy.  All our vacations come to an end.  When our party is over, Jesus offers satisfaction.

Jesus is the only source of this satisfaction for the soul.  Nothing else can satisfy.  You don’t need a water vacation because you owe it to yourself.  You don’t need a camp out because you deserve a break today.  God made you so you need living water.  Unless your spiritual Bios is compatible with your operating system, life will not satisfy.

Spiritual thirst can only be satisfied by believing.  “Whoever believes.”  Your thirst is satisfied by faithing.  By growing from faith to faith.  By growing from obedience to obedience; from grace to grace; from love to love.  God can’t steer a parked car.  Do what you know you ought to do right now and God will direct your next step.

All who believe have the Spirit of Jesus living in them.  Water has symbolized the Spirit of God often in Scripture.

Like the woman at the well (4:13-14), Jesus offers us life in Him.  What was just a spring in John 4 is now a flowing river.

Water maintains life and causes it to grow.  Without the water, you are spiritually dead.  Believe on Jesus and live.  Jesus is offering life, eternal life, abundant life, not as the world gives.

It is interesting that the reactions to Jesus in both chapter 6 and 7 have to do with the events with Moses.  Jesus reminded them of Moses.  He offers bread from heaven and water from the rock.  The Jews expected the Messiah would return with the same gifts.  The Messiah was supposed to provide daily manna and cause water to flow from the rock at Mt Zion.  Jesus offers the bread of life and living water as He stands on Mt. Zion.

People did not all respond the same.  Jesus offers all of us life.  He offers his enemies life.  The invitation is universal.  God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whosoever believes in him shall not perish as they deserve, but have eternal life.  All men were created thirsty.  We were created with a spiritual dimension that only God can fill.

The majesty of this truth is not seen by a world that lives only for today and takes no thought of eternity.  If when you die you just fall asleep and that’s all, then this truth has no value.  You might as well eat, drink and be merry.  But if Jesus did rise from the dead, then there is a resurrection for us and life after death.  If there is life after death, then the decisions we make in this life must have an effect on the quality of our life after death.  If this life has an effect on eternal life, then we had better find the instruction manual and start following directions.

At the climax of this final Jewish feast, they were asking God for the winter rains and Jesus offers abundant water.  This dramatic announcement demanded a decision.  What will you do with Jesus?  Will you confess, commit, and continue in him?  Come and drink?  Repent and believe.  Come and drink.  Choose Jesus.  Is he really the Son of God?  These are written that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God and that believing you might have life in Him.

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