bible blog 823

This blog provides a meditation on the Episcopal daily readings along with a headline from world news:

Romney says ” I am the hope”


John 7:37-52

Rivers of Living Water

37 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,38and 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.” ’39Now 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 –>

Division among the People

40 When they heard these words, some in the crowd said, ‘This is really the prophet.’41Others said, ‘This is the Messiah.’* But some asked, ‘Surely the Messiah* does not come from Galilee, does he?42Has not the scripture said that the Messiah* is descended from David and comes from Bethlehem, the village where David lived?’43So there was a division in the crowd because of him.44Some of them wanted to arrest him, but no one laid hands on him.

The Unbelief of Those in Authority

45 Then the temple police went back to the chief priests and Pharisees, who asked them, ‘Why did you not arrest him?’46The police answered, ‘Never has anyone spoken like this!’47Then the Pharisees replied, ‘Surely you have not been deceived too, have you?48Has any one of the authorities or of the Pharisees believed in him?49But this crowd, which does not know the law—they are accursed.’50Nicodemus, 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?’52They replied, ‘Surely you are not also from Galilee, are you? Search and you will see that no prophet is to arise from Galilee.’

Living waters

The Feast of Tents celebrated Israel’s time in the desrt, living in tents. In particular it remembered the water struck from the rock and the pillar of fire by which they were guided. John shows Jesus to be both the water of Life and the Light of the world. Jesus’ words remind the reader of Isaiah chapter 55 in which God invites his thirsty people to “come to the waters”. In context these words refer to God’s gift of justice and goodness. John means Jesus’ words to be shocking, that is, to claim likeness to God. “No one has ever spoken like this, ” the police say, recognising the authority of the speaker.

John however also reports Jesus as quoting as scripture the promise that living water will also flow from the believer’s heart. Isaiah 44/3 does have words about God pouring out water where there is drought, but no words about believers, so either Jesus or John has interpreted these words as referring to believers. It’s an important addition to the concept of the water  of life. It comes from God, through Jesus, yes, but it continues to flow out to the world through the hearts of those who believe. John gives a kind of footnote that he understood Jesus to be referring to the gift of the Spirit. The mechanism, however, is less important than the promise: that God’s eternal life will flow into the world through those who trust in Jesus.

Can that be true of me? And if it’s not true, is that because I’ve haven’t allowed it to flow to others, or because I haven’t allowed it to flow into me in the first place? The older I get the more conscious I become of the dryness of my soul and of my need to drink daily from the fountain of living waters. The daily lectionary on which this blog is based, is one way in which I can do that.

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