John 7:1-10,37-39 Exploring the Passage

Below are some preliminary questions to assist in the study of this passage. For a comprehensive study of the passage, download the Study Guide (PDF download).

1. What religious feast were the Jews celebrating? See John 7:2 (printed below) What was the significance of this particular feast? Note Leviticus 23:34,39,42-43 (printed below)

Now the Jewish feast, the Feast of Tabernacles, was about to take place (John 7:2)

On the fifteenth day of the seventh month Jehovah’s Feast of Tabernacles begins, and it lasts for seven days …(39) So beginning with the fifteenth day of the seventh month, after you have gathered the crops of the land, celebrate the festival to Jehovah for seven days; the first day is a day of rest, and the eighth day also is a day of rest…(42) Live in booths for seven days. All native-born Israelites are to live in booths (43) so your descendants will know that I had the Israelites live in booths when I brought them out of Egypt. I am Jehovah your God. (Leviticus 23:34,39,42-43)

As we enter the 7th chapter of John, we find that it is the occasion of the Feast of Tabernacles—the culminating feast of the Jewish year. The Feast of Tabernacles was the great feast of harvest, held at the time when the people of Israel had gathered in the fruits of the land (note Leviticus 23:34,39). The unique feature of this feast was the fact that the people were instructed to take leafy branches from the trees, and from these branches they were to construct thatched huts (or, booths) to dwell in during the week of celebration. The significance of this feast was to graphically remind the people that the Lord is the great Provider for His people. According to Leviticus 23:42-43, the people were to construct leafy, thatched huts so that they might know that the Lord made the Israelites to dwell in booths when He brought them out of Egypt—i.e.; even in the midst of the wilderness the Lord provided for His people shade and abundant fruit: He abundantly provided for them (note Psalm 78:14-16,23-25).

2. What does Jesus do on the last day of this feast? See John 7:37 (printed below)

Now on the last day, the great day of the Feast, Jesus stood and cried out, If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. (John 7:37)

Jesus uses this occasion—the great day of this great feast—to issue His great invitation: “Jesus stood and cried out, If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink.” Note: Later in Israel’s history, another element was added to this Feast of Tabernacles. On the last day of the feast a procession of worshipers would accompany a priest down to the Pool of Siloam (located within the city of Jerusalem). There the priest would fill a golden goblet with water drawn from the pool. The procession would then make its way back to the temple where the priest would be joined by a second priest carrying a cup of wine. The two priests then ascended the steps of the altar and poured out the water and the wine at the base of the altar; symbolizing God’s gracious provisions in the wilderness and praying for His continued provisions in the future (The Gospel of John, Leon Morris, pp.417-421; The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, Alfred Edersheim, pp.156-163). By making His great invitation at the climax of this feast, Jesus wants us to see that He Himself is the fulfillment of all that the Jewish feasts represented—they all find their meaning and fulfillment in Him and the spiritual life He provides.

3. To whom does Jesus extend His invitation recorded in verse 37 (printed above under question #2?)

Jesus cries out, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me, and drink!” Jesus’ invitation is extended to whomever is spiritually thirsty—thirsty for God.

4. What does Jesus counsel spiritually thirsty people to do? See, again, John 7:37

Jesus counsels spiritually thirsty people to come directly to Him. We are not counseled to join a church, or perform certain religious rituals, or make a confession to a priest or minister, or look within ourselves, or get in harmony with nature, or seek to make ourselves acceptable to God. We are counseled, invited, and urged to come immediately and directly to Jesus, and entrust ourselves to Him.

5. What promise does Jesus make to all those who accept His invitation and come to Him? See John 7:38-39 (printed below)

Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, From within him shall flow rivers of living water. (39) Now he was referring to the Holy Spirit, whom they who believed in him were to receive; for the Spirit had not yet been given; because Jesus had not yet been glorified. (John 7:38-39)

It is important to understand that Jesus’ promise is made exclusively to the person who trusts in Him: “Whoever believes in me, as the scripture has said, From within him shall flow rivers of living water” (verse 38). Verse 39 explains that Jesus is speaking about the Holy Spirit and His presence in the Christian’s life. It is the Holy Spirit who communicates to the Christian the spiritual life. When you entrust your life to the Lord Jesus Christ, He enters into your soul and takes up His residence in your heart by the Person of His Holy Spirit (note Romans 8:10-11). As you trust in Christ on a daily basis—relying upon Him, yielding yourself to Him, resting in Him—the Holy Spirit will increasingly cause the spiritual life to flow out of your heart and through your life like rivers of living water.