“On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, ‘Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.’” John 7:37-38
I think this scene is akin to a homeless person coming into St. John’s on one of our holiest festival days – perhaps Easter Sunday – and interrupting the 11 a.m. service to rail against the finery displayed in the church and the power, status, and comforts enjoyed by many of its members.
Who wouldn’t be aghast at the nerve of this person? Who wouldn’t be uncomfortable with his message if his words hit home – if he spoke with the authority we hear in John 7:46, “No one ever spoke the way this man does.”
Jesus was a social gadfly from the wrong side of the tracks (Galilee) – an outspoken zealot with only one thing on his mind. This scripture poses uncomfortable questions: If we witnessed this scene, would we believe this guy, or would we dismiss him as a radical? If we only heard about it from someone else, is he less credible – or more?
Have you ever played the telephone game? You know, the one in which the players form a line, and the first person in the line whispers something to the second; the second repeats it to the third; the third to the fourth, and so on, until the last person ends up with a rather different story – one that has been subjected to some sensationalism, insinuation, creativity, and elaboration?
It’s not hard to imagine that lots of people didn’t know what to believe about Jesus – in His time or now in our time. So, what do we believe? To whom do we listen?
Appointed readings for today: Isaiah 43:16-21, Psalm 126, John 7:37-38