Does Living Water wash or wash away?
We left Jesus preaching at the Temple during the Feast of Tabernacles last week. This week's study continues from there, with the authorities beginning to get annoyed, as one might expect. (After all, how annoyed do we get when someone appears to contradict authority in our churches?)
(54) Streams of Living Water
The Feast of Tabernacles is a 7-day event in September/October at the end of the grape harvest. According to John’s Gospel, Jesus reaches Jerusalem in the second half of the feast (John 7:2,14), and starts teaching, apparently unopposed (John 7:26). But the authorities won’t let this go one forever. Read John 7:32-36
1. Read John 7:32-34. Do you think the officers captured Jesus, or did they just threaten him? Read John 7:45 So who is Jesus’ audience at this point?
2. The authorities found Jesus again at Passover. When did they seek him and not find him?
3. Read John 7:35-36 Why might the people think Jesus is going to preach to the Greeks? Is it a logical guess? How do we react when we don’t understand what God is saying or doing? Do common-sense human explanations help?
4. Read John 7:37-38 When did Jesus first mention living water? Read John 4:14. How does this fit with Luke 24:47 or, say, Romans 1:16?
5. Read Zechariah 14:8-9, Ezekiel 47:1-2 These were known as end-times prophecies. They would have been read in the Temple during the Feast of Tabernacles, so Jesus’ listeners have heard them recently. And priests carried water from the Pool of Siloam to the base of the altar in the Temple (with souvenir jars were sold in the streets!), so water was on their minds. Moving, flowing water (sometimes called living water) was required for many rituals. How might this have affected how people interpreted Jesus’ words?
6. Read John 7:39, Isaiah 44:3, Ezekiel 36:25-27. John sees that living water refers to the spirit. Do you think any of the listeners might have caught the reference? How important is the Spirit to you?
7. Read John 7:40-44. Are they talking about the Messiah being born in Bethlehem, or starting his ministry there? Was the fact that he would be born in Bethlehem even common knowledge, or something to be studied and debated? How easily are we persuaded to debate and argue about the wrong things when we search the scriptures?
8. Read John 7:45-46 The officers are clearly impressed. What impresses you most about the scene?
9. Read John 7:47-49 Throughout history, groups of Christians have become convinced that other groups were “deceived” and “accursed.” What’s the difference between judging a group and choosing not to join a group?
10. How important is unity in or between churches?
11. Read John 7:50-53 Is it true that no prophet ever came from Galilee? Read 1 Kings 17:1, 2 Kings 14:25, Micah 1:1 – Jonah is the one we’re surest of; Micah & Elijah are debatable; some say Nahum & Hosea were Galileans too. Is it true that seriously studying the Bible, as the priests clearly did, will protect us from misinterpreting it?
12. How can we be protected from misinterpreting the right things or focusing on the wrong things?