Jesus was in Jerusalem during the last fall and the last winter of His life. He attended both the Feast of Tabernacles and the Feast of Dedication. During the Feast of the Tabernacles the Jewish leaders questioned Jesus. Approximately two months later the Jewish leaders question Jesus again, this time during the Feast of Dedication.
John 7:2 NKJV
“Now the Jews’ Feast of Tabernacles was at hand.”
John 7:10 NKJV
“But when His brothers had gone up, then He also went up to the feast, not openly, but as it were in secret.”
John 10:22-23 NKJV
“Now it was the Feast of Dedication in Jerusalem, and it was winter. And Jesus walked in the temple, in Solomon’s porch.”
We can learn several things from the words that Jesus spoke during both of these feasts. He desires for us to come to Him, repent, and follow Him.
I. “Come to Me”
The seventh day, Hoshanah (The Festival of Willows, The Great Hosanna) was technically the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot).On this day the people would go to the synagogue and take a bundle of willows and some palm branches with them. The Hoshanot, The Psalms that begin with the word hoshana, were recited each of the seven days of the Feast of Tabernacles. It is from the word hoshana that the word ‘hosanna’ comes from, which means ‘save us’. In the center of the synagogue the elders would march around the ark that held their Torah scrolls. The people would march around the ark waving the palm branches seven times, crying, “Hoshana.” After the seventh time, the palm branches are laid down and the willows are beaten. This symbolized the casting away of sin.
An eighth day, Shemini Atzert, was added to the Feast of the Tabernacles during the time of Ezra. This day became known as the “Great Day of the Feast”. On this day the High Priest would pour water from the pool of Siloam into a basin at the foot of the altar. The water was a symbol of God’s Spirit. During the temple times the custom was to draw water from the Siloam spring as a libation to accompany the offerings. This was done with great rejoicing and expressions of thanksgiving.
It was on the eighth day that Jesus told the people if they were thirsty to come to Him and drink. Jesus declared Himself to be the source of the spring – that He was the source of living water.
John 7:37-38 NKJV
“On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ ”
Jesus told the people that were gathered, as the High Priest poured water from the pool of Siloam into the basin, that if they believed in Him rivers of living water would flow out of them. By this Jesus was referring to the Holy Spirit. The water the High Priest would pour out was just a symbol of God’s Spirit but Jesus offered them the real thing, the Holy Spirit (rivers of living water).
In the natural realm when a person is thirsty they have a desire or need for drink. They have a strong desire to quench their thirst. The same is true in the spiritual realm. When we are spiritually thirsty we have a need for living water. Jesus invites every person that is thirsty to go to Him, the only one that can truly satisfy their thirst.
II. “Go and sin no more”
The day after Shemini Atzert is referred to as Simhat Torah. It is a time that that the Jewish people rejoice in the gift of God’s Word and in His promise to write His law on their hearts and in their minds. They focused on the first five books of the Bible known as the Law of Moses or the Pentateuch.
The day after the Feast of Tabernacles Jesus went to the temple early in the morning. He sat down and began to teach the people that came to Him there. As Jesus was teaching a group of scribes and Pharisees brought a woman to Him whom they said was caught in adultery. These men knew what the Law of Moses stated concerning adultery, but they were hoping to trap Jesus into saying something that was contrary to the Law.
John 7:53-8:1-11 NKJV
“And everyone went to his own house. But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. Now early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people came to Him; and He sat down and taught them. Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst, they said to Him, ‘Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?’ This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear. So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, ‘He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first.’ And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, ‘Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?’ She said, ‘No one, Lord.’ And Jesus said to her, ‘Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.’ ”
True repentance is turning from your sin and going the opposite way, to make a conscience decision to turn away from sin. True repentance is to ‘Go and sin no more.’
III. “Follow Me”
In 167 B.C., the temple in Jerusalem was desecrated by Antiochus Epiphanes. After the desecration the Maccabeans lead a group of people in the restoration and purification of the temple. In commemoration of the restoration and the miracle that occurred, the Feast of Dedication was instituted. Today it is also called the Feast of Lights or Hanukkah.
During the last Feast of Dedication of His life Jesus was at the temple. As Jesus was walking in Solomon’s porch the Jewish leaders came to Him. They questioned Jesus again concerning His identity.
John 10:22-24 NKJV
“Now it was the Feast of Dedication in Jerusalem, and it was winter. And Jesus walked in the temple, in Solomon’s porch. Then the Jews surrounded Him and said to Him, ‘How long do You keep us in doubt? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly.’ ”
Jesus reminded the leaders of what He had already told them. On several occasions during His ministry He had referred to Himself as the Messiah, but the leaders refused to believe Him.
John 10:25-30 NKJV
“Jesus answered them, ‘I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in My Father’s name, they bear witness of Me. But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. I and My Father are one.’ ”
Jesus told the leaders that they did not believe Him because they were not His sheep. Earlier, during the Feast of Tabernacles, Jesus told them the same thing.
John 8:42-47 NKJV
“Jesus said to them, ‘If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and came from God; nor have I come of Myself, but He sent Me. Why do you not understand My speech? You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is liar and the father of it. But because I tell the truth, you do not believe Mw. Which of you convicts Me of Sin? And if I tell the truth, why do you not believe in Me? He who is of God hears God’s words; therefore you do not hear, because you are not of God.’ ”
If we are Jesus’ sheep we will hear His voice and we will follow Him.
John 10:27 NKJV
“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me”
I thank You for the rivers of living water that flow out of me, thank-you for Your precious Holy Spirit. Jesus truly is the only One that can satisfy the thirsting in my spirit. Thank-you for Your Word and Your promise to write it on my heart and mind. Help me by the power of Your Holy Spirit to keep a repented heart and to live a repented lifestyle. I make a conscience decision to turn away from sin. I do desire to ‘Go and sin no more.’ Help me to always hear Your voice and follow it. Don’t allow me to stray away from You, O Lord.
In Jesus name, Amen