Who’s ready to party? The next stop on our global tour is the “biggest show on earth,” Rio de Janeiro’s Carnival! Prepare yourself for crazy costumes, amazing floats, and revelry like you can’t even imagine. And the best part is the massive person of Jesus with His arms outstretched over the entire scene. If you’re in the mood to celebrate, get off the bus; we’re here!
John 7 is set in Jerusalem at the Feast of Booths, the most popular Jewish holiday all year, and the jubilation is so thick you can almost taste it. At the height of the festivities, Jesus seizes His moment and causes quite a stir. Family drama, an old friend, political intrigue, bamboozled bouncers—this chapter has it all.
Scripture writing: I absolutely loved copying out verses 45-46 in The Message:
That’s when the Temple police reported back to the high priests and Pharisees, who demanded, “Why didn’t you bring Him with you?” The police answered, “Have you heard the way He talks? We’ve never heard anyone speak like this Man.”
Though the powers that be try their darnedest to shut Him up, the truth of Christ stands firm and does its work. What hope this provides in a world so hostile to the things of the kingdom! The message of Jesus is still making waves wherever it goes.
Studying: Verse 37 is accompanied by a note in The Gospel Transformation Study Bible that clarifies why Jesus’ words and timing had such a divisive effect on the crowd.
Two symbols—water and light—played a significant role in this high feast. During the course of the week, water was drawn from Siloam and poured upon the altar in commemoration of the refreshing stream that had come forth miraculously out of the rock at Meribah. Jesus’ loud invitation to the thirsty was a startling, even scandalous, declaration. He was claiming to be the rock that Moses struck in the wilderness—the rock from which life-sustaining water flowed.
A million glimpses of grace are strewn about the Old Testament, just waiting for this scandalous Savior to step onto the stage of history and reveal how they each pointed to Him all along.
Commentaries: Although the Puritan preacher wrote way back in 1706, Matthew Henry turns everything I’ve ever heard about productivity upside down in his explanation of verse 6:
Those who are made the servants of God, as all men are, and who have made themselves the servants of all, as all useful men have, must not expect nor covet to be masters of their own time.
Seeing my schedule as my schedule creates several issues: a major entitlement problem, panic or moodiness over interruptions, an inability to notice opportunities to love, insignificance in the scope of eternity, frustrated purposes… But moving into each day with open eyes and ready heart to receive God’s agenda rather than my own? Ah, there’s the sweet spot. No fancy planning strategy or groundbreaking productivity technique can yield better results than that.
The cultural context in D.A. Carson’s commentary on verse 46 was also thought-provoking:
[The guards’] problem lay partly in the fact that they were not brutal thugs, mercenaries trained to perform any barbarous act provided the pay was right. They were themselves drawn from the Levites; they were religiously trained, and could feel themselves torn apart at the deepest level of their being by the same deeds and words of Jesus that were tearing apart the population at large.
I’d created flat characters in my mind, two-dimensional beings without brains or hearts. But these men show deep uncertainty and ultimately return to the “bad guys” empty-handed. It’s nice to remember that John writes about real people.
Sermons: In “The Glorious Gospel Invitation,” John MacArthur makes a key observation about Jesus’ offer to give the Spirit like rivers of living water welling up from within all who come to Him.
We’re not buckets—we’re rivers; it doesn’t end in us—it flows through us.
This idea flouts any scarcity mindsets embedded in my backstory, wiring, family, or culture. No more hoarding! I’ve freely received, so I can freely give. My job isn’t to stuff myself full but to empty myself out in order to be a better conduit; the world is in desperate need of the life-giving Spirit I have in abundant supply.
Per usual, Mark Driscoll drops some fantastic truth in “Jesus Comes with Controversy:”
If you love people, you’re willing to enter into conflict with them so that you can have relationship with them.
An allergic reaction occurs when I encounter conflict—my insides break out in hives, and I freeze (if I don’t outright run away). In the past, I’ve been silent from fear or pride when I should have spoken the truth in love. It’s easy to slap a verse about overlooking an offense on a situation when the thought of engaging in that situation is scary. Pastor Mark’s point about the example Christ set calls me to more than safe but stunted relationships.
Journaling: In verse 11, the religious authorities are busy hunting for Jesus at the feast. They ask around and keep their eyes peeled. It occurred to me that I seldom look for the presence of Jesus as keenly as His enemies did. There is so much of Him to be found in the nooks and crannies of my life, but I’m often oblivious to His movement.
Meditation: John 7:38 in The Passion Translation puts Christ’s invitation to all who thirst beautifully.
“Believe in Me so that rivers of living water will burst out from within you, flowing from your innermost being, just like the Scripture says!”
Two things struck me about this passage. First, it’s so important to know Scripture because Jesus uses it to give us hope in its promises. How many times have I missed out on deep comfort because I’ve not familiarized myself with what the Word says? Second, if this water comes from my innermost being, then the truest version of me is Kassie-in-the-Spirit; Kassie-in-the-flesh is a lie I can live, but it’s an exhausting lie. I’m most myself when I’m most like my King.
Jesus’ arrival on the scene is worth pulling out all the stops for in celebration, and I hope you’ve enjoyed the excitement of Rio. Now let’s all pile back onto the tour bus and get some road behind us as we continue traveling through this stunning book of good news.
*Following the study schedule right along, my binder is thickening up with doodles, prayers, and tons of background information on the text. This summary is just the condensed version, the highlights of each approach—you can find my full binder notes for John 7 here.