As you may have read the other day, Jesus said a lot of things that we may now take for granted having heard them spoken in church for years, but if you put them in the context of the time and culture and you realise that Jesus said some pretty crazy things!
On the last and most important day of the feat Jesus stood up and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. If anyone believes in me, rivers of living water will flow out from that person’s heart, as the Scripture says.”
John 7:37-38 (NCV)
I don’t know about you, but if I were to take that literally, I’m not sure I’d take Jesus up on his offer. What would rivers of living water flowing from my heart look like? Would the water spew from my mouth or would it just burst from my chest? How would I stay alive either way?
In addition to this being an odd thing to say, Jesus was actually taking advantage of tradition to show that he was going to make changes. It is important that the end of the feast is mentioned. At the end of the seven day Feast of Tabernacles, it was tradition to tack on an eighth day to the festivities for a closing assembly. This assembly included a procession from the temple to the Pool of Siloam (which is another story in itself). Once at the pool, a priest would draw water to be poured out as an offering on the altar back at the temple. What could possibly be the most important part of this entire tradition is the scripture recitation that accompanied it.
With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.
Isaiah 12:3 (ESV)
No wonder the religious leaders were incensed! Jesus stood up and loudly proclaimed to be able to replace and improve upon a very important part of the Jewish tradition – and the Jews loved their tradition like Thor loves his hammer.
So what does this mean for us? Aside from the incredible gift of salvation that Jesus offers, it gives us a glimpse of what Jesus came to do. He didn’t come only to save the world, but he came to change the world. At every turn, Jesus took the opportunity to turn Jewish tradition on end. Not because it was necessarily bad, but because he had a better replacement.
What do you think Jesus wants to replace in your life? You are free to keep doing things the way you’ve always done them, but what if Jesus wants to take those things and change them into something better? What if he wants to take your stale old traditions and allow something life-giving and refreshing to flow from them? Instead of joining the procession to the pool for salvation, you can be the source of it.
Daily Bible reading: 1 Chronicles 1-2; John 7:32-53