Now the Jews’ Feast of Booths was at hand.
On 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. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” Now 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. John 7:2, 37-39 ESV
Then he brought me back to the door of the temple, and behold, water was issuing from below the threshold of the temple toward the east (for the temple faced east). The water was flowing down from below the south end of the threshold of the temple, south of the altar. Then he brought me out by way of the north gate and led me around on the outside to the outer gate that faces toward the east; and behold, the water was trickling out on the south side.
As I went back, I saw on the bank of the river very many trees on the one side and on the other. And he said to me, “This water flows toward the eastern region and goes down into the Arabah, and enters the sea; when the water flows into the sea, the water will become fresh. And wherever the river goes, every living creature that swarms will live, and there will be very many fish. For this water goes there, that the waters of the sea may become fresh; so everything will live where the river goes. Fishermen will stand beside the sea. From Engedi to Eneglaim it will be a place for the spreading of nets. Its fish will be of very many kinds, like the fish of the Great Sea. But its swamps and marshes will not become fresh; they are to be left for salt. And on the banks, on both sides of the river, there will grow all kinds of trees for food. Their leaves will not wither, nor their fruit fail, but they will bear fresh fruit every month, because the water for them flows from the sanctuary. Their fruit will be for food, and their leaves for healing. Ezekiel 47:1-3, 7-12 ESV
During the time when the second temple was standing, there was a special ceremony, called the water libation ceremony, that took place during the Feast of Booths. Every day of the festival, at dawn, a priest would go down from the temple to a spring called Shiloach, while all the celebrating people followed him. The priest would carry a special golden decanter and fill it with water, then he would carry this container of water back up to the temple. The people would follow him back up to the temple and watch as he poured the water over the altar where the burnt offerings and other sacrifices were made. There was a special hole in the altar for the water to be poured into, and it would drain down through that hole.
Jesus went to Jerusalem and celebrated the Feast of Booths, and he would have seen the water libation ceremony take place and rejoiced with the other people there. On the last day of the feast he called out that if anyone was thirsty, that person could come to him and drink. He talked about the living water that would flow out of that person’s heart, which was a picture of the Holy Spirit he would give to everyone who believed in him. The people who heard Jesus say this would have been thinking about the water libation ceremony, and they might have remembered the vision the prophet Ezekiel had about the river that flowed from the temple and brought life and healing everywhere it flowed. Jesus was saying that his people would become temples of God, and the Holy Spirit would live in them and bring healing and life to their hearts.
We who believe in Jesus have the precious gift of the Holy Spirit living in our hearts. He gives us the life and healing that Jesus won for us on the cross when he washed our sins away and made us his people. The joy and comfort of the Holy Spirit is like living water that gives us new life and healing, and it flows from our hearts to other people around us whenever we share the good news of the love of Jesus.
Dear Jesus, thank you for washing away our sins and giving us the gift of your Holy Spirit. Help us to share your love with others. Amen.