Valuable Lessons: Essential Truths

Gospel of John #20: An exposition of John 7:1-38. This message by Pastor Rod Harris was delivered at Trinity Baptist Church on Sunday morning, April 3, 2011.

It was a time of great joy and celebration.  The city was teeming with people.  It is late September or early October.  It is the “Festival of Booths,” the most popular of the three mandatory feasts of the Jews.  It was a celebration of the grape and olive harvest and a way of commemorating God’s miraculous provision for His people during their wilderness wandering.  All Jewish males living within a 15 mile radius of Jerusalem were required to attend the 7 day celebration.  While attending they lived in “booths” or “tabernacles” built with branches.  The local residents even built shelters on their rooftops or courtyards as a means of joining the festival.  At the center of this celebration was a daily ritual.  Each morning the priest, accompanied by the celebrants, would make his way to the Pool of Siloam from which he drew water with a golden pitcher.  As the people followed, they carried a piece of fruit in their left hand (a reminder that God led them to a fruitful land) and branches from a palm tree, a willow and a myrtle (emblematic of the stages of their wilderness journey) in their right.  The crowd followed the priest waving their branches and chanting various Psalms as they journeyed.  As the priest dipped the pitcher into the waters of the Pool they recited Isaiah 12:3, “With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation!”  Then the parade marched back to Jerusalem, through the Water Gate to the blast of trumpets.  The priest circled the altar once and then ascended the altar and poured the water into the silver basin beside the altar to the cheers of the crowd as they shouted their praise to God.

This ritual was repeated every day with increasing excitement and drama.  On the final day emotions ran high.  On the 7th and final day the priest circled the altar 7 times.  The shouts of the people grew more intense with each round.  Finally he ascended the altar and lifted the golden pitcher.  The crowd shouted, “Higher!”  He lifted it higher.  As he turned the pitcher to pour out the water – a man steps out from the crowd and shouts, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink.  Whoever believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’”

A bold, dramatic, unmistakable declaration by the Lord Jesus.  It begins His march to the cross and it is found in the 7th chapter of John’s Gospel.

Text: John 7:1-38

This marks a turning point in John’s Gospel.
Jesus moves his base of operations from Galilee to Judea.
The conflict and hostility intensifies.
Within 6 months He will be nailed to the cross.

We are going to look at three scenes from this chapter, each teaching us something essential about the Lord Jesus.  I find it very common that people around here “believe in Jesus.”  That’s great but the real question is, “Which Jesus?”  When you say you believe in Jesus are you believing in the Jesus who reveals himself in Scripture?  Are you believing in the Jesus of the Gospels or a Jesus of your own making?

In a day of “easy believism” and shallow, moralistic theology, we desperately need to recover these basic truths about the Jesus of the Gospels.

I want to call your attention to 3 facts from our text.

  • Fact #1 – You cannot manipulate God to serve your purpose.  (7:1-9)
  • Fact #2 – You cannot remain neutral toward the person of Christ.  (7:10-36)
  • Fact #3 – Abundant, vibrant life is found in Christ and Christ alone!  (7:37-38)
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