37 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.
Jesus offered an invitation to believe on Him. He wanted His audience to come to grips with who He was. Reactions to this offer ranged from conviction of the truth to complete rejection.
This is one of the most dramatic statements Jesus ever made.
37 On the last day, that great day of the feast,
The reference here is to the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles. A ritual performed during the festival was a solemn procession every day from the temple to the Gihon Spring. It was a ceremony to pray for rain and give thanks to God for sending it. After bringing the water back to the temple, the priest would then pour water on the altar as an offering to God. This ritual was a reminder of the water pouring out from the rock in the wilderness (Nu 20:8-11).
Jesus stood and cried out, saying,
“Cried out” is a solemn announcement. Here is an offer of salvation (Jn 4:14; 6:53-56). No intimidation by religious authorities kept Jesus from proclaiming the truth. Relying on nothing but God’s sovereign providence, He boldly proclaimed truth in the face of imminent danger.
At the culmination of the great Feast of Tabernacles, Jesus made a climactic statement about what He offered. He revealed the significance of why He came as the Messiah.
Early in the morning of each of seven days of celebration, the high priest would lead a parade from the Pool of Siloam to the temple. Another priest filled a golden ewer with the water and carried it from the Pool to the Water Gate on the south of the temple courtyard. There he poured ceremoniously the water into a silver basin on the west side of the altar. The water would flow to the base of the altar. Some chanted Isaiah 12:3 and 55:1. All this symbolized God’s provision during Israel’s wandering in the wilderness. This was a celebration of God’s provision in the harvest each year. Jesus claimed to personally fulfill this water ceremony.
“If anyone thirsts,
Against the background of the water ceremony during the Feast of Tabernacles, Jesus offered another kind of water to those with positive volition. Before anyone can partake of the water that Jesus offers, they must recognize that they have a thirst for eternal things (Is 55:1; Mt 5:6). People need to recognize their spiritual need before they can accept Jesus’ offer to meet that need.
let him come to Me and drink.
This is a submission of salvation. Jesus’ offer was spiritual, not physical, water. “Drink” connotes appropriation of Jesus’ offer of water by faith. He was claiming to be the fulfillment of water celebrated on Tabernacles.
Recognition of spiritual need is the starting point of becoming a Christian.
Jesus offers eternal life to anyone who recognizes their spiritual need. The first step of becoming a Christian is the ownership of how we have violated an absolute God (Ro 3:10, 23). We do not have to deal with our sin but just admit it. Jesus dealt with our sin by paying for it on the cross. The Father accepted that payment as sufficient to pay for our sin.