The Spirit

Jesus said, “I am with you for only a short time, and then I go to the one who sent me. You will look for me, but you will not find me; and where I am, you cannot come.”

The Jews said to one another, “Where does this man intend to go that we cannot find him? Will he go where our people live scattered among the Greeks, and teach the Greeks? What did he mean when he said, ‘You will look for me, but you will not find me,’ and ‘Where I am, you cannot come’?”

On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.

On hearing his words, some of the people said, “Surely this man is the Prophet.”

Others said, “He is the Christ.” (John 7:33–41)

To close out the Feast of Tabernacles, the priest took a gold vessel full of water from the stream of Shiloah that flowed under the temple mountain. As he poured it on the altar, he quoted Isaiah 12:3 (NIV): “With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.”

That closing ceremony served as the springboard for Jesus’ proclamation that anyone who was thirsty could come to him. During his speech, Jesus alluded to a group of scriptures. There were Isaiah’s words about streams of living water flowing from within (Isaiah 44:3 and 58:11). Isaiah identified that living water as the Spirit of God (Isaiah 44:3). Jeremiah also spoke about living water flowing from God (Jeremiah 2:13, 7:13. And Zechariah 14:8 spoke of living water pouring from Jerusalem when the Messiah came. That’s why people who heard Jesus speaking that day were willing to identify him as the Messiah.

The people of Israel were intimately familiar with the words of scripture. They had heard and studied them their whole lives. When they heard Jesus speak, they heard those same words. They recognized them and understood their implications when Jesus applied them to their circumstances. The more we read and study the Bible, the more it will start to make sense to us—and the greater our depth of comprehension will be.

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About R.P. Nettelhorst

I'm married with three daughters. I live in southern California and I'm a deacon at Quartz Hill Community Church. I spent a couple of summers while I was in college working on a kibbutz in Israel. In 2004, I was a volunteer with the Ansari X-Prize at the winning launches of SpaceShipOne. Member of Society of Biblical Literature, American Academy of Religion, and The Authors Guild
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