Living, Refreshing Water

Written by Mark C. Pederson, Pastor, Trinity Lutheran Church

Theme Background

I’m really enjoying this series in the Gospel of John.  I’ve never said that before.  I’m starting to see patterns in the Gospel, that I hadn’t seen before.  Today’s reading is a great example.  Jesus is in Jerusalem for the 3rd time, and of course the reason he is there is a feast.  (John portrays Jesus as really liking feasts).  At first Jesus isn’t going to go because the Jewish officials are after him.  Then, he decides to go, but privately, undercover so to speak.  Then, in today’s reading, he comes out into the temple and begins to teach.

There is a sense of déjà vu as you read this text.  Jesus goes up to Jerusalem.  The last time he was there he healed the man at the pool of Bethesda.  There were waters that became stirred up at the pool and that water was said to have healing powers for those who were sick.  Jesus now states that living water flows through HIM.   He also states that it will flow through the believers as well (that would be us!)

The story also reminds me of the woman at the well.  He also told the woman there that he was God’s living water.  She had a sketchy background, but proved an effective evangelist.  Guess what is going to happen next in the Gospel of John?  Jesus is going to meet the woman caught in adultery!  Party, living water, healing, grace–these seem to be the patterns of the community of John, who are writing this Gospel.

Finally there is the whole idea of the prophet not coming from Galilee?  What is up with that?  Courtney shared a book with me titled “Zealot”.  It is a very thought provoking book which frames Jesus’ life and ministry in a very different way.   There were a number of freedom fighters who had Galilee as their home base.  They had caused a great deal of problems for both Rome and the Roman protected portion of the Jewish religion.  The writer of the book claims that Jesus is also one of these freedom fighters.  Think about the first time he enters the temple.  He destroys the profit producing center of the worship area.  That is a powerful repudiation of the established Jewish authority.  All of this might help us to understand a bit better why the people, and especially the Jewish authorities are riled up about Jesus being from this little, backwater village in the middle of nowhere.

I’m captivated by Jesus promise that out of his believers would flow “rivers of living water.”  That’s a lot of living water.  What does this water look like?  How does it provide life?  (I’m not suppose to ask these questions until the end, but I can’t help myself!)  Who are the thirsty among us?  Jesus has called us water-bearers.  Just how do we live that out in our everyday lives?

Quotes for the Week

Would that I were a dry well, and that the people tossed stones into me, for that would be easier than to be a spring of flowing water that the thirsty pass by, and from which they avoid drinking.       Khalil Gibran

The finest workers in stone are not copper or steel tools, but the gentle touches of air and water working at their leisure with a liberal allowance of time.
Henry David Thoreau

For true love is inexhaustible; the more you give, the more you have. And if you go to draw at the true fountainhead, the more water you draw, the more abundant is its flow.
Antoine de Saint-Exupery

My books are like water; those of the great geniuses are wine. (Fortunately) everybody drinks water.

Mark Twain

Lesson: John 7: 37-52 (NRSV)

On the last day of the festival, the great day, while Jesus was standing there, he cried out, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me, 38 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.'” 39 Now he said this about the Spirit, which believers in him were to receive; for as yet there was no Spirit, because Jesus was not yet glorified. 40 When they heard these words, some in the crowd said, “This is really the prophet.” 41 Others said, “This is the Messiah.” But some asked, “Surely the Messiah does not come from Galilee, does he? 42 Has not the scripture said that the Messiah is descended from David and comes from Bethlehem, the village where David lived?” 43 So there was a division in the crowd because of him. 44 Some of them wanted to arrest him, but no one laid hands on him. 45 Then the temple police went back to the chief priests and Pharisees, who asked them, “Why did you not arrest him?” 46 The police answered, “Never has anyone spoken like this!” 47 Then the Pharisees replied, “Surely you have not been deceived too, have you? 48 Has any one of the authorities or of the Pharisees believed in him? 49 But this crowd, which does not know the law– they are accursed.” 50 Nicodemus, who had gone to Jesus before, and who was one of them, asked, 51 “Our law does not judge people without first giving them a hearing to find out what they are doing, does it?” 52 They replied, “Surely you are not also from Galilee, are you? Search and you will see that no prophet is to arise from Galilee.”

Questions for the Week (See end of devotional!)

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