Lent Devotion for March 13
"If Any Man Thirst"
Reader: “Anyone who believes in me…”
Response: “…may come and drink.”
SCRIPTURE: Leviticus 23:36-38
36 For seven days you must present special gifts to the Lord. The eighth day is another holy day on which you present your special gifts to the Lord. This will be a solemn occasion, and no ordinary work may be done that day.37 (“These are the Lord’s appointed festivals. Celebrate them each year as official days for holy assembly by presenting special gifts to the Lord—burnt offerings, grain offerings, sacrifices, and liquid offerings—each on its proper day. 38 These festivals must be observed in addition to the Lord’s regular Sabbath days, and the offerings are in addition to your personal gifts, the offerings you give to fulfill your vows, and the voluntary offerings you present to the Lord.)
SCRIPTURE: John 7:37-43
37 On the last day, the climax of the festival, Jesus stood and shouted to the crowds, “Anyone who is thirsty may come to me! 38 Anyone who believes in me may come and drink! For the Scriptures declare, ‘Rivers of living water will flow from his heart.’” 39 (When he said “living water,” he was speaking of the Spirit, who would be given to everyone believing in him. But the Spirit had not yet been given, because Jesus had not yet entered into his glory.)40 When the crowds heard him say this, some of them declared, “Surely this man is the Prophet we’ve been expecting.” 41 Others said, “He is the Messiah.” Still others said, “But he can’t be! Will the Messiah come from Galilee? 42 For the Scriptures clearly state that the Messiah will be born of the royal line of David, in Bethlehem, the village where King David was born.” 43 So the crowd was divided about him.
Reader: “The word of the Lord.“
Response: “Thanks be to God.”
Some background of the above passages may be helpful. Every fall there was the eight-day celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles, which was the high point of the entire year. It was required that every Jew makes a pilgrimage to Jerusalem to celebrate this feast. There could be several hundred thousand pilgrims present. Sukkot, the Feast of Tabernacles, was a season of great joy for the people, having just come out of Yom Kippur, whose central act was the forgiveness of all sin. Several kinds of offerings were made as part of Sukkot, each signifying different aspects of worship: burnt, grain, various sacrifices, and drink offerings. The Israelites lived in booths for the whole week. On the eighth and final day of the celebration, the Feast culminated with the high priest taking a golden pitcher and filling it with water from the pool of Siloam amidst tens of thousands of revelers. With the waving of palm branches, a grand and joyous procession followed, with the priest majestically carrying the pitcher to the Temple going through the Water Gate. (The belief was that God judged the world for rainfall at this time and that the ceremony invoked God’s blessing for rain in its proper time.) Sukkot also anticipated the coming of the Messiah when all nations would gather in Jerusalem to worship God during the festival. (Zech.14:16) It is in this context that you now want to re-read the above passage in John. Jesus’ claim as Messiah was so clear. You can also see the tension building between Jesus and the religious leaders as Jesus began to reveal himself as the long awaited Messiah.
As we journey with Jesus through the season of Lent, we see the unfolding of God’s careful plan of redemption. Jesus had perfect control, understanding, and authority in every situation. You’ll also note how often He went away alone to talk with His heavenly Father. That is a very good model for all of us as well!
MUSIC: “Shall We Gather at the River" by William Appling Singers
Almighty God, the fountain of all wisdom, who knowest our necessities before we ask, and our ignorance in asking, lighten our darkness, we beseech Thee, and by Thy great mercy defend us; for the love of Thine only Son, our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
—The Book of Common Prayer