An Urgent Invitation – John 7:32-52
– Reverend Kyle McClellan, Pastor, Grace Presbyterian Church
Jesus denies their request to go to Jerusalem for a bigger stage of popularity that the people want to follow.
The pharisees hand has been forced to act before they are fully ready with their case against Jesus.
The Big Idea: Jesus invites us to come to him and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, but this gift comes via relationship and not religion.
Point One: Understand the urgency (vv.32-36).
This is the first time in John’s gospel where Jesus says his time is coming and not going to be with them very much longer. This is in contrast to John 2 where the water turns to wine and his time has not yet come.
Irony is that in vs 35 he is being questioned about his relationship with gentiles. Ironically, eventually he does teach the Greeks and Gentiles but not by himself – the church is commissioned. These Jews are saying that they do not need to be taught, but that christ needs only to teach those Gentiles.
Let’s not be lulled into thinking that the illusion of control that technology and other advances offer for us gives us the ability to not be urgent about Jesus’ urgent words.
Point Two: Are you thirsty? (vv. 37-39).
The feast of booths or tabernacles is a week of camping in a tent to remember Gods faithfulness to previous generations who God freed from slavery in Egypt. The high point of each day was the festival of lights and waters. A priest would go to the pool of Silome with golden bowls and march in a procession back to the extra lit up temple full of lights. This is shown in Isaiah 12:3. This is our OT reading from Ezekiel 47 today of what the temple will fully look like one day. Each of the seven days they would do this. On the eighth day they would all pack up and sing Psalm 113 to Psalm 118 to each other in full hope of what kingdom and temple is coming one day.
This is when Jesus stands up and says do you want this thing we have longed for forever? Do you want this thing that our acting this event out in tents has pointed to for seven days? Then come to me and drink. He does not ask who can recite the torrah, or obey it, or clean themselves up first, but he only asks, ARE YOU THIRSTY?
The fact that blindness is so strong for these hearers in this story is very frightening. It is not indifference that the people present here but hatred. They just lived through an annual seven day festival and missed the entire point of it and settle into hatred instead.
Their response in vs 52 is a misuse of OT scriptures that no prophet comes from Galilee. In fact many have – Hosea and jonah and Elijah etc were all from Galilee.
Point Three: Religion will divide, but religion will not carry water to the thirsty (vv. 40-52).
The Pharisees attitude is that God needs them. They want to be the hero of God’s story. I want to be the hero of my own story, sadly, too. They want to be their own functional saviors. What are our functional saviors?
As GK Chesterton wrote, we would do better to take a smaller role in our own story.
Jesus experienced cosmic thirst when he died on the cross and said, I am thirsty. He experienced longing for and rejection of his own father for us, experienced ultimate thirst, so that we would never thirst again. Come and drink freely of Christ. Find your deepest longings satisfied in Him!
The passage: 32The Pharisees heard the crowd muttering these things about him, and the chief priests and Pharisees sent officers to arrest him. 33Jesus then said, “I will be with you a little longer, and then I am going to him who sent me. 34You will seek me and you will not find me. Where I am you cannot come.” 35The Jews said to one another, “Where does this man intend to go that we will not find him? Does he intend to go to the Dispersion among the Greeks and teach the Greeks? 36What does he mean by saying, ‘You will seek me and you will not find me,’ and, ‘Where I am you cannot come’?”
37On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. 38Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” 39Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.
40When they heard these words, some of the people said, “This really is the Prophet.” 41Others said, “This is the Christ.” But some said, “Is the Christ to come from Galilee? 42Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the offspring of David, and comes from Bethlehem, the village where David was?” 43So there was a division among the people over him. 44Some of them wanted to arrest him, but no one laid hands on him.
45The officers then came to the chief priests and Pharisees, who said to them, “Why did you not bring him?” 46The officers answered, “No one ever spoke like this man!”
(Johns readers would see and remember John chapter one which ways, no, this is not just an ordinary man. he is the very word and son of God).
47The Pharisees answered them, “Have you also been deceived? 48Have any of the authorities or the Pharisees believed in him? 49But this crowd that does not know the law is accursed.” 50Nicodemus, who had gone to him before, and who was one of them, said to them, 51“Does our law judge a man without first giving him a hearing and learning what he does?” 52They replied, “Are you from Galilee too? Search and see that no prophet arises from Galilee.”